Google Reader ignores unread items

If you read this with any regularity, you know how I fight with Google Reader about the issue of it tossing aside unread items after some undefined period of time. I’ve ranted about this here and here and here.

Google’s Matt Cutts ran into this issue himself recently, and blogged about it last night. He reads about 100 feeds, and noticed a 30 day cutoff point. I am up around 300 feeds, and am seeing a cutoff between 10 and 14 days. I envy his 30 day window, frankly.

CropperCapture[1]Matt suggests as a workaround switching from “Show Unread Only” to show all items. If you know which feed your missing entries are in, this does work. If you wish to look at all of your feeds to review them, then you need to make some time and clear your decks. The last time I did this, I had to go back through nearly 11,000 posts  (figure 1), which meant that my Reader-only browsing session ballooned up to 345MB of RAM (figure 2). Add to that the fact that one can only load posts 20 at a time, and I figure I pressed page down  nearly 550 times to accomplish this inane task.Task manager reports insane RAM usage to dig back into my feeds to find the ones Google Reader lost 

Now I love Google Reader. It’s a great tool, and the fact that it is free is amazing. But… data loss is still data loss. I think it’s about as bad a thing for a computer system to permit as possible, and I wish that the Google Reader team would change this behavior, or at least clearly define what the thresholds are so you could plan for it and not be surprised like I am currently.

As an aside, my old post about an accidental click on “Mark All As Read” within Google Reader is one of my more consistently read items. From the search terms it is clear that others have had this issue and are trying to find some way to undo their error. No luck, alas.

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