When it comes to archives, paper still wins out over digital. Paper doesn't require a power supply, the tech doesn't go obsolete, it can be stored in a Western Union office for delivery 70 years later, and, as LongAccess just showed us, with paper you don't have to worry about the archival service shutting down.
Founded in 2013 with the goal of offering an archival service with a 30-year guarantee, LongAccess was intended to be a place where the founder could store his daughter's first videos and photos and be sure she would find them no matter what, when she is old enough to care.
Sadly, that's not going to happen. LongAccess founder Panayotis Vryonis announced on the site's blog on Thursday that the service would shortly be closing its doors. Apparently not enough people were interested in paying in advance for 30 years worth of digital storage from a new company with no track record:
So here we are today. We have about 1,500 registered users, and only 40 paying users, very little cash in the bank, and no sign we could raise additional funds. In short, we have to shut longaccess.com down.
The service is shutting down, but Panayotis plans to keep the promise he made to his customers. He'll continue to fund the online storage of the files archived with LongAccess, even if he has to pay out of his own pocket.
But will his heirs feel the same way? That's a different matter.
The only real surprise here is not that the service failed, but that it took so long to fail and that it had any paying customers at all.
This was a niche service that was intended to serve strictly as long term storage. It's not your average cloud storage service, and it was built to fill a need which few people have even considered that they might need. Furthermore, all of LongAccess's potential customers have been burned before.
The folks who are most likely to need or use such a service are also the ones who have been hurt at one point or another when a service shut down, taking our files with it. Tthat has made techies understandably cautious about trusting any one service for the long term.
Just in the ebook market alone, over the past four years we've lost four platforms (eReader, Mobipocket, MSReader, eBookwise) and two and a half ebook retailers (Sony, Fictionwise, Nook).
Is it any wonder that no one wanted to risk investing their time in LongAccess?
image by Jasoon