HP Forced to Back Out on Promise to Back Up Users’ Files

Hewlett-Packard may be one of the world’s largest IT companies, but that doesn’t make it infallible.

The company’s client software HP Upline – a subscription-based online backup service – was temporarily suspended on April 17 due to some technical glitches, causing the company to fall short on its promise to protect the digital world of its users “whether your hardware fails, your computer is lost or catastrophe strikes.”

Mac users likely breathed a collective sigh of relief; they weren’t affected by Upline’s downtime, since the software is designed only to work on PCs.

The service was restored on April 23, preceding an e-mail apology sent out to subscribers. The company has promised to refund the subscriptions of Upline users who weren’t completely satisfied with the service.

That isn’t the end of it. Since the service provider failed to adequately screen the data-storage service for U.S. residents only, it is now forced to discontinue the subscriptions of international users.

“HP has lost me as a customer now permanently,” wrote a Canadian blogger, who was thankful he decided to take advantage of the free limited version as opposed to purchasing the service. “[It] offers a new service, then forgets to filter out Canadians, and then [it] pulls the plug on the service for those [who] did sign up.”

While unlimited storage plans range in price from $4.99 to $8.99 a month, users can test the limited plan free for a year.

HP’s recent acquisition of Opelin, a company that provides online services such as storage, led the IT giant to enter the online storage market by launching HP Upline on April 7.

How It Works
HP Upline offers users their choice of limited or unlimited online storage with backup and file-sharing features.

When users subscribe to the service, it searches their computers for all important documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other files and copies it to HP’s Upline servers, where everything is compressed and digitally encoded for security purposes. This data can then be shared, published or accessed from any PC in the world using a log-in and password.

The service strives to blur international boundaries by allowing U.S. residents traveling anywhere in the world to access any of their files even if their computers are offline.

Coping With the Backlash
Meanwhile, HP’s online storage competitors didn’t waste any time seizing the opportunity to lure data storage users away from Upline.

“Shafted by Upline?” and “Is Upline Jerking You Around?” read Google advertisements for Mozy, an EMC company that specializes in all forms of information backup.

Several HP users also have joined the action via blogs.

“I apologize for trusting HP to deliver on anything,” wrote the author of the Storagezilla blog.

“HP’s Upline sounds like it could be a really amazing service,” wrote Derek Pegritz, another blogger. “[There’s] serious [money] value, but not if the software client you need to get your data up can’t even stay afloat long enough to tally up a single folder’s worth of Microsoft Word documents.”

– Deanna Hartley, dhartley@certmag.com

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