Wednesday, July 9, 2008

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:
http://thelinkupusers.blogspot.com/2008/07/john-hood-disabled-comments.html

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.

Sincerely,
The Linkup Team
---

20 comments:

Icy said...

Despite the frustration, of recent times it's a sad day really.

Streamload/Mediamax/TheLinkUp RIP

McB said...

Has anyone received any email notification that they are closing down? I have not, so far.

However, I did actually receive a response from John Hood on July 3 regarding the files that don't belong to me in my account.

Jabash said...

Does anyone have information on who owns this company. What will happen to the servers. Any chance they might be bought by another storage company.

I called them and the line is disconnected.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how any body can be upset about this, these people ripped off paying customers all over the place.

They got what was coming, simple as that.

They are despicable.

Anonymous said...

I'd been a Streamloader since 2002, and I loved the service then despite it's occasional troubles.

I think the writing was on the wall with the disastrous transfer to MediaMax. I'm just surprised (and a little saddened) that it actually took so long to die.

I am sad to see it go, but really, those running the service (or failing to) brought this upon themselves.

I just feel sorry for those people who have lost irreplaceable documents, and for the Archive Keepers who have seen years of work wiped out in one fell swoop.

I was a part of one of those archive sites - although I didn't keep an archive myself I helped to contribute to it - and it's not a good feeling at all when it's all just gone like that.

So Long TLU - you won't be missed, but Streamload always will be.

John Hood said...

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

Tom Bassett said...

Jabash,

I believe I read that the Mediamax/Linkup company uses Nirvanix, which is their spin-off company, as their storage solution. If your files exist anywhere, it may be somewhere in the Nirvanix servers.

Everyone:

It's not the outcome I'd hoped, but some resolution has been achieved. So my blog on the topic will be discontinued. It will remain up for the time being for posterity, however, and may resurface if the company itself resurfaces under another name.

Luzo Orbit:

Thanks for providing 2 great forums for us to air our grievances!

Anonymous said...

John Hood your apology is pathetic and hollow.

You and your associates have lied, deceived and cheated and have never at any stage offered your customer base any clarity or honesty.

You have dragged the whole saga out for years, without once telling us the honest truth about what was going on.

You have got what you deserved.

You won't get any sympathy from me, and I for one will be glad to see the back of the lot of you.

Dave.
http://partyoflife.wordpress.com/

Jabash said...

Why not just restart Mediamax and tell people to download from there.

Was the upload process not tested prior to execution.

Yes, I assume Nirvanix is being used but I do not think they have an ownership interest in tlu. Would it be too much to hope tlu provided some help for people to pursue these to retrieve vital files :(

John Hood said...

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.

Jabash said...

OK, any chance we could get some guidance on who to talk to at Nirvanix.

Katie said...

Yes, we'd love to be able to retrieve our Mediamax files.

John Hood, since you no longer work at TLU, I would be interested in an HONEST reason why the change from Mediamax to TLU. Mediamax did function most of the time (after many months...), so why risk it all (with ultimate failure) by developing TLU? Was it all about money, as I suspect?

I suppose I will not see the $50 owed me for loss of a half-year's subscription.

I don't 'feel sorry' for these people. I feel sorry for us! They are cutting their losses and running away with their tails between their legs, leaving a huge, sorry mess behind. And I think they are scared of lawsuits for what they have done to our data.

Thanks to luzo orbit and WillTRiker for running these blogs for us.

Jabash said...

Yes, it seems like a good thing was run into the ground for nothing without much concern for the customers. Three months and two years of travel photos are good because I trusted them when my portable drive failed.

Anyway, Niranix, at 525 B St.
San Diego, CA 92101-2311 is just down the street from tlu. Anyone willing to go over and talk to them. I will call them soon.

I wonder how much debt tlu has. That would seem to mean Mediamax was loosing money. I can't see the move to tlu as a major investment since it seemed to have much fewer features- not that I ever got to use any.

Jabash said...

Funny, poking around I found a statement from Mediamax that they do not use Niranix..

http://mediamaxusers.blogspot.com/2007/08/finally-bit-of-disclosure.html

Anonymous said...

Didn't you read Hood's post above: I think the only time we intentionally lied was when we denied being a customer of Nirvanix. That was a Nirvanix demand. That's old news and I don't think Nirvanix deals with individuals anyway. It looks like they do mostly big business.

Jabash said...

my bad, forgot about that. I am going to call them though and see what they say.

Anonymous said...

Ah, CLOSURE!

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Screw you, Streamload / MediaMax / The Linkup!

Of course, we'll NEVER see any of our money refunded - it's already been SPENT, like on Steve Iverson's car:

http://www.914.com/default.aspx

John Hood, you LIED to us, over and over. Mis-truths and half-truths and misleading statements are still LIES. You've got the same attitude as a LOT of high-ups: that the rules are for other people, that you're somehow better than the rest of us. That we are obligated to believe your stories simply because the words came out of your mouth.

"operator eror"?

BAH. I don't believe you.

***

"I simply related what I was told by Engineering."

I guess you really have NO IDEA what goes on at this company, then?

***

"I just wanted to apologize on behalf of our entire team for the demise of The Linkup."

An apology for the DEMISE. NO apology for LYING all this time. NO apology for STEALING our money. NO apology for offering a service that you knew was substandard. NO apology for being such a tiny little man.

I'll bet that your mom is really proud of you.

***

"I am not asking for any sympathy."

You won't get any.

***

"And yes, your files are at Nirvanix. It's now up to them to decide if they want to give you access to MediaMax."

Passing the buck once again. Always someone else's fault, isn't it? I'm SO GLAD to be finally rid of you and your "team"!

***

The BEST thing the rest of us can do is to be aware of any business ventures that involve the members of this "team":

Patrick Harr, Charlie Jackson, John Belden, David Titus, John Hood, Steve Iverson, Marty Wexler, Greg Bohdan, Mike Corrales, Andrea Connelly, Jeff Hooker, Adrian Herrera, Mike Roufa, Gabe Herrera, Thanh Phan, Rob Palumbo, Harvo Jones, Scott Chatley, Al Mateo, Josh Monson, Chaz Bowman, Merry Roberts, Terri-Lee Dayal, Eugene Coffey.

I will be looking for these names. I will not do business with companies that include these people. We "little people", also known as "paying customers", DO have some power.

WE CLOSED DOWN THE LINKUP, DIDN'T WE?!? Three cheers for us, the lowly customers! The king is dead, long live the king!


P.S. John Hood, if you DO ever return to this blog (though I suspect that you won't, having given your "apology", and "no longer working for TLU", and being busy figuring out how to dupe somebody somewhere into hiring you), please learn how to use your SpellCheck. All of those SPELING ERORS MAYK YOO SEAM STOOPID.

Have a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

To this point I've stayed out of all the commotion because I've been long gone from the Streamload/MediaMax/Nirvanix world. I'm a former employee of the company and I'm going to back up John Hood here.

He was both the gate keeper of complaints and messenger of far too many engineering screw ups to count! None were caused by him, as many as he could control were fixed both him and the team that worked for him.

At this point, he has no incentive to apologize and the fact that he did so means he's a better man than many who should be facing public ridicule in this situation.

Streamload/MediaMax/TLU did not go down in flames to punish you or to purposely lose your files. And I can assure you that John was relaying, perhaps naively what he was told.

While I feel your pain in "losing" your files (which you still have several weeks to download if they weren't already lost months ago), I also feel sorry for John and the rest of the people at Streamload/MediaMax/TLU who lost their livelihoods because they relied on another company's inept service. And now they have to listen to you bash them because you can't access your porn, anime or whatever other files you were illicitly trading...

I get being mad, but enough is enough!

Anonymous said...

YES, WELL, I guess that enough is enough, if an anonymous ex-employee thinks that we're giving the ex-"Manager Of Support" too much bashing.

But I believe in calling a spade a spade, and a stinking liar a stinking liar.

Years of poor service and even poorer support brought this on - that company thumbed its nose at us, and just kept on taking money.

John Hood took his pay and ACCEPTED his job. Is it too much to ask that someone in this world DO THEIR JOB?

I certainly don't single out Mr Hood for any bad vibes - there's a whole LIST of people in a higher post who deserve it!

Time for me to get back to my "porn, anime or whatever other files you were illicitly trading"...dude, you DO have a knack for smoothing out the wrinkles. Ever think of getting a job in customer service?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mediamax/The Linkup:
I tried writing but just got the notice so I'm hoping you find this...
"I love the new name and it sounds like it could be a better designed Wixi.com (the simple design look is unlike anything out there and the name which matters a lot to me because I'm poetic like than is way cuter than Carbonite or Mozy) and hope you stay running with the people who want to stay. If it's a money problem increase yearly payments to $200 and I'll pay; I wonder who else will? To the same end, buy the name and move to another server don't worry so much about investors; I believe in you guys."

ninjascout@inbox.com