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Memset gives customers less than 1 month's notice of SquirrelSave shutdown

Chris Middleton Profile picture for user cmiddleton July 18, 2017
Memset has given its customers less than a month’s notice. The SME has a high profile with government buyers and has been a G-Cloud advocate in the past.

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Memset, the cloud hosting service for business, has told customers that it is shutting down one of its longest-established backup services, at less than one month’s notice.

The SME has a high profile amongst government buyers, having been one of the early advocates for the G-Cloud framework. However, in recent years the company’s co-founder Kate Craig-Wood has warned of government “propaganda” and said that the “dream is dying” for smaller companies getting fair access to public sector contracts.

The soon to be closed service, SquirrelSave, is an encrypted cloud backup facility that offers unlimited storage space for any number of PCs for a flat monthly fee. It is currently marketed as “the UK’s #1 data backup” service.

Memset has written to SquirrelSave customers and informed them that the service will be closed in less than one month’s time.

In the customer email, Memset said:

We regret to inform you that we will be terminating our SquirrelSave service on the 9th of August 2017.

Demand for SquirrelSave has proved to be lower than anticipated; as such it is no longer commercially viable for us to continue providing this as a service. We also wish to focus our efforts on providing Memset's core services such as Cloud VPS, Dedicated Servers, Cloud Storage and Cloud IaaS with the security, speed and support that Memset are known for.

On the 9th of August 2017 at 11 am, we will permanently shut down the SquirrelSave servers and securely delete all data stored on them. At this point your SquirrelSave client will stop working. It is essential that you have recovered all data required using your SquirrelSave client before this time. Any remaining rental period will be refunded to you.

In 2008, SquirrelSave became the first UK-based online backup provider to offer unlimited cloud storage. In an interview at that time, Memset and SquirrelSave co-founder, Kate Craig-Wood, said:

Users will never outgrow their SquirrelSave subscription, no matter how much data they have.

However, Memset – which counts the BBC and the NHS among its users – now appears to have outgrown some of its smaller customers.

The speed of the shutdown – during the high vacation period for many – has angered Memset users. A spokesman for one SME customer told diginomica that his company has been using the service for more than eight years:

It is something I have used for backing up my company’s files for the whole time, so it seems harsh and unprofessional to just dump customers with very little time to source and test an alternate recovery strategy.

Whilst I understand the service was probably no longer cost effective, it seems less than professional just to dump their loyal clients.

The customer told diginomica that he had written to Memset to complain, and had received the following reply:

Unfortunately, the date for decommissioning SquirrelSave is non-negotiable. I can understand your frustration, and I apologise for the situation you have been put in.

“I shall certainly pass your comments along to our management team. It may be worth looking into our dedicated cloud storage solution (MEMSTORE) as this is far quicker and more reliable than SquirrelSave.

Diginomica contacted Memset for comment. Their spokesman said:

We really want to concentrate all our efforts as a company on our core business, which is infrastructure. We know what we’re good at, which is infrastructure, and providing that as a service.

He added:

I don’t know the commercial decisions behind it [the decision to close SquirrelSave].

The SquirrelSave website has not been updated with the shutdown information, and still appears to be accepting new business.

My take

Memset’s actions reveal how swiftly cloud-based solutions can become a problem for customers, with service shutdowns, withdrawals, or technical problems often coming out of the blue – and, as in this case, resulting in the secure wiping of customer data with very little notice.

We hope that Memset makes concerted efforts to contact its customers more than once, to monitor the number of customers who respond to its initial email during the summer holiday period, and to ensure that its users are given much more of an opportunity – and more time – to seek alternatives.

At the very least, Memset should extend the notice period and offer to migrate data to an alternative Memset service, rather than leave its customers to solve all of the problems themselves.

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