It was very popular as it offered unlimited storage, instead charging for downloads by volume. Some users had many gigabytes of data stored, even thousands of gigabytes.
Streamload, without any discussion with customers, separated the storage function - the actual servers - from customer liaison - the user interface, billing and customer support.
Storage was handled by a new company, Nirvanix, where most Streamload employees continued to work.
The customer end was called Mediamax and Streamload customers were transferred to it.
During this re-structuring a disaster occurred. An investor, Charlie Jackson, explained in a posting on the Techcrunch website: "Around the time this spin-out was happening, Nirvanix engineers screwed up royally and accidentally deleted half the files. Most were recovered over time, but it took months, and there was never 100% recovery (I never got some of files back)."
[UPDATE 29 July 2008: Although invited to comment specifically on these media reports prior to this blog opening, Nirvanix, in its reply, did not do so. Today it has emailed alleging the Techcrunch article that reproduced a comment alleging it was a Nirvanix employee who deleted the files is 'inaccurate and libelous'].
See the full article quoting this posting at:
Mediamax was slow to explain what happened. It's official blog gave little information and did not allow comments. Customer support was slow to reply and many customers found the information misleading.
An unofficial users blog was set up called 'Mediamax - we need you!'. See:
Eventually Mediamax Communications Director, John Hood, accepted the offer to post information. He was adamant that there was no longer any connection between Mediamax and Nirvanix. A posting on the official blog responded to a Techcrunch article questioning what connection there was as follows, as reported on the users blog at:
---Quote from the Mediamax blog
The consumer online service became "MediaMax" and a second entity, Nirvanix, was founded as a new and separate company. We ("MediaMax") continue to focus on the consumer online storage space (B2C) as we have done for many years. We can't talk about Nirvanix as they are an independent company; however, we can say that we never changed over to Nirvanix, as the article suggested, and are not using their new system now.
Users were correct to distrust this assurance and the claim that the companies were independent. John Hood admitted the truth in July 2008 - see his full post at:
---Quote from John Hood post
I think the only time we intentionally lied was when we denied being a customer of Nirvanix. That was a Nirvanix demand.... And yes, your files are at Nirvanix. It's now up to them to decide if they want to give you access to MediaMax.
So apparently Mediamax lied about where files were hosted at the insistance of Nirvanix.
With millions of files gone, reportedly due to a Nirvanix error, a file recovery process was initiated by Mediamax, but had only limited success. The image of Mediamax bombed. Its awful handling of customer relations was a major contributing factor (see the user blog for examples).
Posters to the Mediamax Users blog tracked the process and some engaged with Mediamax on testing a new file-managing system. To the users surprise this was suddenly launched in April 2008 as a beta project with an annoucement that the Mediamax system would close. The new system had a new name: The Linkup. This was still the Mediamax company, however, and still using Nirvanix for storage.
Mediamax signatories with free accounts had these closed and their data deleted in the re-branding exercise. Some received a week's notice by email, some say they never received any notification at all. Some returned from a week off line to find all their data - not already deleted by the 'Nirvanix screw up' - had gone for ever.
Paying customers were told to schedule the transfer of their files from Mediamax to The Linkup interface. The scheduler didn't work and was discontinued. Mediamax said it would arrange the transfer itself. Apparently 45% of files failed to register under The Linkup's user interface and were lost. Links to hosted files also died, despite a promise to maintain the Mediamax links, at least until December 2008. Stung by criticism that he was wrong when he said problems had been solved, John Hood commented in a post after he had left The Linkup, see:
---Quote from John Hood
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.
So Mediamax customers found themselves to be customers of The Linkup, with more problems than before, and an unoffical forum for users of The Linkup was started at:
In a poll on the blog, 47% (51 votes) said the found The Linkup useless and were leaving. The same number said they lived in hope of being able to access their files. 6% (5 votes) said they found The Linkup service 'Brilliant - much improved'.
One positive development was that The Linkup did allow comments on its official blog and the unofficial blog directed people there. However, The Linkup later turned off comments and deleted those that had been left as many were reporting faults and making complaints. In addition some people found files from strangers in their accounts and were trying to identify who the real owners might be. This careless handling of private data by The Linkup was possibly a breach of data protection law and something it did not want to draw attention to.
Then in July 2008 The Linkup suddenly announced it was closing down and that people had until 8 August to download files, if the files had been registered in The Linkup system.
An indication of the support The Linkup can be expected to provide during this period is shown by the fact the Communications Director has already left the company. A user reports receiving a parting message regarding possible refunds as follows, see:
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.
Director, Customer Support
So what assistance can be expected from Nirvanix, which holds data belonging to others and, according to the report quoted above, was responsible for deleting millions of files, the error that brought down Mediamax. The answer is : none at all. It's message to users of The Linkup is available at:
--Message from Nirvanix to Luzo Orbit
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.
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.
How Nirvanix responds to customers who paid, via Mediamax/The Linkup, for its services will become evident up to the 8 August and beyond.
This case raises important questions for anyone using on-line storage, sharing and hosting services who may think it wise to ask who is actually storing the data and what responsibility they will take for it.
Many people fear they have lost irreplacable and valuable data, though it still exists on Nirvanix servers.
The principles around who is responsible for data in cases such as this may be something that requires investigation by a Congressional or Senate Committee.
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