Yahoo Decides to Unpack Briefcase

by Lynnette Nolan | Mar 02, 2009

It looks like yet another "storage in the cloud" service is shuttering — Yahoo Briefcase will be closed down at the end of March, including their paid service, according to an email from Yahoo. This announcement follows close on the heels of AOL's shutdown of xDrive.

Other similar services, even some that have gotten great reviews, appear to be on life support. My take: there is no business model here. While these services are cool, few people find them compelling enough to pay for them. And the advertising thing hasn't worked either: there was some thought that they could scan your backed up files and try to figure out what advertising to target you with. Not a very attractive idea to most folks.

So why are hundreds of thousands of people willing to pay for Carbonite? Simple — we solve a real problem. The cost and pain of having your hard drive crash and losing all your financial records, business documents, wedding photos, and so forth, is so high that people will gladly shell out $50 a year to have the problem go away. Storage in the cloud, like Yahoo Briefcase, is not really a backup system. Yes, if you're willing to work at it, you can store files on Yahoo Briefcase. But they are not encrypted, updates are not automatic, it doesn't just work continuously in the background, there is limited capacity so you're always running out of space, there is no client software to check the integrity of the backup, no visual representation of what is backed up, no way to manage your bandwidth so that the backup doesn't drag your computer to its knees, there is no warning to tell you that your backup failed or is out of date, there is no way to easily restore all your files, no help with migrating from XP to Vista, and on and on. Storage in the cloud is, to some extent, a solution looking for a problem. Look for other similar services to pack it in over the next year.

CEO, Carbonite