Two more cloud storage services close: Yahoo's Briefcase, HP's Upline

After the demise of AOL's Xdrive service just a few months ago, Hewlett-Packard's Upline and Yahoo's Briefcase will now bite the dust by the end of March.

Evidently, supply is exceeding demand in at least some segments of the nascent cloud storage market, particularly with users' time, patience and spending budgets increasingly exhausted by the deepening financial crisis.

HP's Upline -- an unlimited storage service garnered through a 2007 buyout of Opelin -- and Yahoo's Briefcase have lost out to rival services such as Box.net and EMC's Mozy, which seem to be doing a better job of meeting the needs of the relatively small numbers of people using such offerings so far. Meanwhile, Google is reportedly planning a service called Gdrive which will also compete in this category.

HP's Upline underwent a highly publicized outage almost immediately after going up last year.

For its part, Yahoo's free Briefcase storage service also appears to have gotten outdone by Yahoo's own mail service. Unlike Briefcase, Yahoo Mail offers unlimited storage. Briefcase could also be somewhat time confusing to use. Users had to click through a few screens in order to upload new files.

Upline and Briefcase will both shut down by March 31. Upline users are already being forbidden to back up new files, although they'll be permitted to access existing stored files via the restore function through the end of this month.

Briefcase has faced plenty of challenges along the way. Frustrated by an initial storage limitation of 30 MB, "some intelligent hackers decided to write a small application, which would go to Yahoo Briefcase, create [a] few thousand accounts and then take large amounts of data, split them into chunks of 30 MB, and spread them across these accounts. So you had free, almost unlimited storage online and this application was using Yahoo Briefcase in the background. These applications were suddenly using up more than 60% of the system resources alloted for Y! Briefcase," wrote Kalyan Varma, in a blog post last month.

Varma and others at Yahoo then used a program called CAPTCHA, first developed at Carnegie-Mellon, to prevent automation of Briefcase accounts.

Last October, AOL made known its own plans to shutter Xdrive -- along with Bluestring and AOL Pictures -- before January 1 of this year. AOL's decision accompanied a strategy shift in its online services, with the company announcing intentions to link AOL.com to a variety of outside services, including the Facebook and MySpace social networks, at about the same time.

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