Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nirvanix comment

Prior to the new Unofficial Nirvanix Users blog opening Nirvanix was specifically invited to comment on media reports that it was a Nirvanix employee that deleted millions of users files, but in its reply, did not do so. Today it has emailed alleging the TechCrunch article that reproduced a comment apparently from Charlie Jackson is 'inaccurate and libelous'.

Comments on this blog may refer to these allegations, so please see Nirvanix's response, linking to a longer article on its blog, at:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Unofficial Nirvanix users blog

If you are concerned that Nirvanix has your data and you would like it back, see:

To my mind, Nirvanix should show a little more concern for users. If it was a company warehousing house contents I doubt it would be able to dump everything in the incinerator simply because an agent had mislaid some keys and their filing cabinet had fallen over and the index cards had become mixed up. Particularly if the warehousing company was part of the same enterprise when entrusted with the items.

Friday, July 11, 2008

We are stuffed - message from Nirvanix

I have received the following response from Nirvanix. I think those who suggest this has all been a process designed by Streamload to rid itself of historic customers - many of whom had high data volumes - have a point.

---Message from Nirvanix to Luzo Orbit
Dear Mr Orbit,

theLinkUp (TLU) built their applications using Nirvanix as a back end storage platform, connecting their application to our service through an API. Without the TLU application, and its database which maps users to their files Nirvanix cannot decipher which files belong to each user. The same is true for any application interaction with back end storage and is not unique to TLU.

As has been noted by many TLU users, many cannot either find their files or have found that other TLU files are in their accounts. This isn't a physical storage issue but rather TLU has somehow corrupted their database in the build or deployment of the TLU application. Unfortunately, as we are completely separate companies, Nirvanix has had no control over the build, deployment or management of the TLU application nor will we when it is shut down on August 8th, 2008.

For the benefit of TLU customers, Nirvanix has agreed to extend its data services to TLU, at no cost, so that files that are in TLU system can be retrieved during the period stated on their site. After the TLU application ceases, there will be no way to access the files.
Best Regards,

---message ends

This was the request I sent:

From: Luzo Orbit [mailto:luzoorbit@hotmail.co.uk]
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 2:50 PM
Subject: Valuable data held on your servers

Dear Nirvanix,

I understand from John Hood of Mediamax/The Linkup that customer files are stored on your servers.

As The Linkup is shortly to close its service, I ask you to preserve customer files on your servers until such time as customers have been able to download these files.

As you are no doubt aware, The Link Up aimed to transfer files held under the previous Mediamax system, but many files (45%) did not arrive in people’s accounts. They are unable to download these from the Link Up user interface and their only hope of recovering these files is directly from Nirvanix.

This data has value and I hope that Nirvanix will respect this and ensure nothing is destroyed without checking with the owners of the data.

I would be grateful if you could provide a statement and guidance on how people can recover their data for the blogs I maintain for Mediamax and The Linkup users.

Best wishes,

Luzo Orbit.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nirvanix has our data

John Hood posted a message on yesterday's blog entry: in which he said: "I think the only time we intentionally lied was when we denied being a customer of Nirvanix.... And yes, your files are at Nirvanix. It's now up to them to decide if they want to give you access to MediaMax." (The full message is below).

So they lied.

The Linkup is going offline on the 8 August. We have been told to download files before then. But they will still be on the servers of Nirvanix.

John said that there was a failure rate of 45% in transferring files from Mediamax to The Linkup. The files that have not been transferred are still there on the Nirvanix servers.

Perhaps those servers still have the millions of files that were deleted last year due to operator error.

John said previously: "Nirvanix and Mediamax (parent company of The Linkup) are separate companies that spun out of Streamload. Different investors, different employees, different management. There is no connection."

Well aside from it being a deliberate lie that there is no connection, it strikes me that those who signed up to Streamload have a strong case to require Nirvanix to give them access to their files.

Those that signed up to Mediamax also have a claim, I would imagine because our data is an asset and it surely cannot be held or destroyed by a third party without our permission. The fact that it was entrusted to Nirvanix by Mediamax should not change this fact. Legal advice on this point would be very useful.

It also occurs to me that data protection legislation may help. Under UK legislation you have a right to all data held by a third party in electronic form that relates to you. When I have used this act in the UK, I have been sent copies of materials that refer to me or have been sent to the organisation by me. Would it be possible to use the US Act to require Nirvanix to provide a copy of all data held in our accounts?

I don't have much data on Mediamax - I used it for hosting files for streaming, rather than for archiving or backup. But those with large amounts of data they want back might like to consider getting legal advice on the legal obligations of Nirvanix to return the data. Time is short because possibly they will destroy it after the 8 August deadline proposed by The Linkup expires.

Even without going for an injunction to prevent this, if people write to Nivanix saying they know they have their data and they expect it to be protected and returned it will strengthen the case should it be destroyed. The email address is info@nirvanix.com

We can also try to get fees back from The Linkup. However, someone has posted to a previous blog a message they say was received from John Hood:

Thanks for writing. I'm sorry to hear that you haven't been able to access your files. I wish I could give you a refund, but we simply have no money. In fact, the company is several hundred thousands of dollars in debt and will soon be filing for bankruptcy. I thnk you only recourse is to join the company's other creditors in bankruptcy court.


John Hood
Director, Customer Support
The Linkup

Here is his message about lying and news that he has left The Linkup:

--- from John Hood
Bash me all you want, but my apology was sincere. I didn't have to do it and I don't work for TLU anymore so I have no ulterior motive. I am not asking for any sympathy. And for the record I've never lied. I simply related what I was told by Engineering. Sometimes they weren't able to live up to their promises but that's true for every tech company. There was nothing nefarious going on. We're guilty of not living up to expectations for the service not of lying. I think the only time we intentionally lied was when we denied being a customer of Nirvanix. That was a Nirvanix demand. But I should also mention here that the companies were entirely separate. I always laughed when I saw Tom Bassett going on about how we were the same company. Not only was that not true, we had a contentious (and that's being polite)relationship with them from Day One.
And yes, your files are at Nirvanix. It's now up to them to decide if they want to give you access to MediaMax.
--- quote ends

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

John Hood post 9 July

John Hood of Mediamax/The Linkup posted the following message on the last blog entry about the closure of the service:

---quote begins
I just wanted to apologize on behalf of our entire team for the demise of The Linkup. We started this company a year ago to prevent the closing of the Streamload service which was the desire of management after the split of Streamload into MediaMax and Nirvanix. If we hadn't the service would have been gone a long time ago. It started off on a bad note because, due to operator eror, while the company was still Streamload millions or files were deleted. Still we perservered. We built what I think is an excellent product. The problem is not the product but transferring files from MM to The Linkup. There was a 45% failure rate as we tried to upload files to the new product. Therefore we felt it was best to end this situation now. We could have pushed forward but felt that continuing out cry over lossed files would dog us forever. This would hamper sales in the future and prevent us from raising more capital. We didn't feel it was right to resume billing customers considering the massive loss of data. (Yes, PayPal was still sending us money for subscriptions but we stopped directly charging credit cards April 26th)
So as much as we'd like to continue present circumstances prevent it.

Again, my apologies, I wish you success in downloading your files.

Best Regards,

John Hood
---quote ends

The file backup service that never was: The Linkup is closing

Those checking back to the official The Link Up blog for an update on the 29 June posting (which said the site was down for maintenance, though it was already back up), will have been shocked at the post today, 9 July 2008: "Mediamax / The Linkup is closing". The full post is included below.

The post states: "It was not possible to satisfactorily complete the move of files from MediaMax to The Linkup as we had expected, and as a result cannot offer a service that meets your expectations and our business requirements. This is a very disappointing outcome for us, and we know it has been a frustrating experience for many of our customers."

I would imagine it is frustrating for all customers who have until 8 August to download any files that have not already been lost by this company or were deleted with little or no notice when the switchover to The Linkup began in April.

So far there is no indication of whether those of us paying annual subscriptions will receive a refund. Personally my last payment was in March 2008 and my hosted links have not worked since the switch over in April. This is despite the fact that Mr. John Hood, communications director, posted here on 4 July in response to me raising this: "His statement about the TLU supporting links is a half truth. Yes, there were issues with existing links but that's because they the files that were in users hosted section were some of the last to migrate. We OBVIOUSLY still support embedded links." My files turned up in The Linkup long ago, but still the hosted links don't work. My podcast has fallen silent (and I've given up on it for now in frustration, thanks John), as have other streams.

I first began a blog on Mediamax because of lack of response from customer support when files went missing en masse. Comments were disabled on the official blog, so the idea was people could leave their comments on the users blog instead. It was called: "Mediamax - we need you!" and was an appeal for the company to engage with customers and address the problems.

For a while there was some productive discussion, or so it seemed. But then the transfer to The Linkup was sprung on us, a system still in beta. Those with free accounts on Mediamax were told with a week's notice or no notice at all that their accounts would be closed and all files deleted.

The transfer was a disaster, with a scheduling tool quickly abandoned and the promise that our files would all be transferred by the company. But for many, files have still not appeared. We were told hosted links would be maintained until December 2008. Mine have never worked, despite John's claim that OBVIOUSLY they are supported.

The only good news was that the official The Linkup blog allowed comments and so this one fell silent as many of us left our reports of system failures and appeals for help there. It felt like we were talking into a void, however. Now the comments there have all been deleted.

So The Linkup will soon be no more. Hopefully the warning at the top of this blog suggesting those thinking of signing up to The Linkup wait to see if it resolves its problems will have saved some people their money and the heartbreak many posters here report as family photos and important documents they thought they had backed up are lost forever.

I am sure the closure of The Linkup was not the outcome most people on this blog wanted. We wanted clear communication, a working system and either lost files back or at least an admission that they were gone forever and some form of compensation. Waiving of fees for those of us who have forked out good money for nothing would have been nice.

It seems, however, that it is easier for The Linkup to dump its historic customers.

Perhaps those involved will resurface in another guise promising secure storage and many other things. As it has failed to deliver or honour these commitments in the past, I would be loathe to trust it again. We can have no confidence this team will not be as incompetent in future.

It may not only be the desire to escape historic commitments that has brought about the closure. As has been mentioned in comments here, people were finding the files of strangers turning up in their accounts. While the terms and conditions may protect the company from losing files, breaking the security of personal data is perhaps a more serious issue as it is regulated by legislation in many countries, including, no doubt, the US. Perhaps it is the real risk of customers finding their personal information being abused that has prompted the company to pull the plug.

It is sad to see that the company blames others instead of looking at its own failings. John Hood said he disabled comments on the official blog, not because he didn't want to respond to the comments, but because : "the blog was full of bickering between posters and people spreading half truths. to say there a lot of sharing of information is a joke." See:

In what he billed as his 'last post' just last Friday in a comment on that entry, there was a portent of the imminent closure as he attempted to blame me for running this blog: "My point here is that he's not trying to do anything constructive here. He's just here to try to bring TLU down." He falsely claimed I had never contacted the company. I have the emails to prove it and left comments on the official blog, though John has deleted those.

Mr. Hood wrote: "Don't hide under the pretense that you're trying to provide a forum where people can get information."

Well, it has been no pretense. I hope this blog and its predecessor has provided a useful service. Certainly there has been a lot of information sharing going on. You wouldn't know from the official blog that wayward files have been turning up in other people's accounts, for example. This blog may even help the owners to be found. The Mediamax blog had a series of very useful posting, in my opinion, such as sharing information on file recovery progress.

So farewell to The Linkup. Good luck for whatever your people do next - I sincerely hope it has nothing to do with file storage or customer service. Oh, and please, at the very least, refund our fees.

Here then is the posting from the official blog telling us our files are soon to be deleted forever. See:
a href="http://tlublog.blogspot.com/2008/07/mediamax-linkup-is-closing.html:

MediaMax / The Linkup is closing

We regret to inform you that we will be closing The Linkup service on Friday, August 8 at 5:00 pm PDT.

The Linkup is no longer accepting any uploads or new accounts, and no further charges will be made to your credit card. After August 8, your account will not be accessible, all your personal information will be deleted (username, billing information, history, etc), and your files will be deleted. Please download any files that are in your account that you wish to keep before Friday, August 8 at 5:00 pm PDT.

It was not possible to satisfactorily complete the move of files from MediaMax to The Linkup as we had expected, and as a result cannot offer a service that meets your expectations and our business requirements. This is a very disappointing outcome for us, and we know it has been a frustrating experience for many of our customers.

We are very sorry that we have not been able to rebuild our service as we had envisioned. We sincerely appreciate those of you who stuck by us and held out hope for the return of a great service, and apologize that things did not work out better. And also a special thanks and apology to those developers who have been developing applications on The Linkup API that can no longer be supported.

The Linkup Team

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's YOUR fault John Hood disabled comments on the official blog

John Hood of Streamload/Mediamax/The Linkup has posted the following comment to this blog explaining why he disabled comments on the official blog.

I note that NO explanation has been given on the official blog as to why comments were disabled and deleted.

--John hood johnh@thelinkup.com said...

for the record, i turned off comments because it just a constant negative spiral downward. we aren't even advertising for new users so saying that we're trying to avoid scaring them is ridiculous.
the blog was full of bickering between posters and people spreading half truths. to say there a lot of sharing of information is a joke.
to say that there's now no way to share your views is a joke too. i'm going through the names here and a great many of you have my email address and have written me.
another joke and one particularly offensive to me is that you never hear from support. hogwash. we answer 84% of our emails within 24 hours. to say that i drop in and say everything is rosy is also a joke. i gsve accurate information and took alot of abuse in return. i never said anything that wasn't true or sugar coted the facts. finally to say that we're billing people for our service is the biggest joke. we haven't charged anybody in quite some time.
if you guys change your tone and use the blog to make constructive criticism, stop abusing each other and lose the sarcasm i'll turn the blog comments back on.
finally, yes i realize that this migration has been difficult. i can't believe anyone thinks we're doing this on purpose. we're doing the best we can.

So there you go people. 'Change your tone'. Mr. Hood has spoken.