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HP's new online backup service is off to a rough start.
HP Upline was unveiled two weeks ago, just as Google was rolling out its latest online service.
Its maiden voyage apparently didn't last too long, as the service reportedly was knocked offline April 17 and hasn't been back since. An HP spokesperson said the service is expected to return later this week.
"We chose to temporarily suspend the Upline service to investigate what we believe is an isolated technical issue," said HP's Sheila Watson. "We anticipate that the Upline service will again be available to users this week."
Watson characterized the issue as "an isolated issue with one account."
Visitors to the site were told the service was unavailable when they tried to log in, and HP took the site itself offline today, with just a note on its home page that read, "The HP Upline Service is temporarily unavailable." By evening, the site was restored, but the service itself remained unavailable.
One blogger reported that HP sent a message to users saying the suspension "will be temporary and short in duration."
The note reminded users that the service is for U.S. residents only and added that "our filtering tools did not adequately screen for subscribers residing outside of the United States."
For non-U.S. users, "we will be discontinuing your current subscription. After we notify you that the Upline Service is operational again, you will have a limited period of time to access and download files that you have uploaded onto the HP Upline Service servers. After that time period, you will no longer have access to your present HP Upline Service account."
EMC wasted no time in trying to capitalize on its rival's stumble. A text ad for its Mozy service appeared on Google searches for "HP Upline" today, asking searchers if they were "Shafted by Upline?"
Analysts said the outage is an unfortunate one for an industry that is trying to convince users that online backup services are the way to protect data.
"It is certainly a setback for backup as a service offerings," said Brian Babineau, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "When a brand name and a technology leader experiences such issues, customers can become disgruntled and, worse, potential users hear about it and think about alternative methods to protect their data."
Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO, said outages at the likes of HP and Amazon S3 aren't so much a reason not to use online services, but to keep a local copy of data.
"Whenever you send a copy of your data elsewhere, regardless of whether it's online or via removable media, have an extra copy of your data around or in another accessible place," he said. "While it's great that online and other services can preserve your data, you also need to be able to get at and access your data when you need it, lest a small incident cascades into a rolling disaster scenario."