Web hosting service TextDrive was founded in 2004 with a novel idea: providing lifetime web hosting for an up-front fee of $199. Unfortunately for many of the early TextDrive customers who hoped to never pay for hosting again, however, TextDrive is shutting down March 14, 2014.
In a message to customers, TextDrive founder and CEO Dean Allen said that recent efforts to revive the service were ultimately unsuccessful.
“It is disappointing to report that after a year and a half of uphill battles and unimagined setbacks, after several costly efforts to regroup and find another way, options to keep TextDrive growing have run out, and we will cease operations on the 14th of March, 2014,” wrote Allen. “For those who wish to know, details of what went wrong will be made available once shutdown operations have completed. Sorry to have let you down.”
Ugh, our hosting is going down and we have 10 days to migrate all of our sites. So much for the lifetime hosting we paid for.
— Jessie Mihalik (@jessiemihalik) March 4, 2014
Pls spread urgent word: TextDrive is going dead on Mar 14th. Owner has been AWOL for most of 2013. Now closing shop w/o notifying customers.
— Carina C. Zona (@cczona) March 7, 2014
Many customers were upset that TextDrive chose to break the news on its website less than two weeks before the service would close, rather than sending customers an email message earlier. Many are scrambling to backup their data and find alternative hosting services before their TextDrive storage is wiped.
Many in the TextDrive community don’t feel particularly bitter, given that they got essentially a decade of hosting for around $200. However, as TextDrive user David Foltz told Wired, TextDrive’s owner Joyent could have refunded customers their money when it seemed that it would be impossible to continue the service. TextDrive might have been able to treat this as the repayment of an initial investment – as though they were “mini-VCs”.
But as service continued to decline, many users felt slighted. As Bill Turner notes on his blog, there have been reports that over the last few months, TextDrive sites have gone down, support tickets have not been addressed, and that at least one employee was not getting paid.
The community of TextDrive customers, however, has quickly helped spread the word of the shutdown, and are providing ideas on what they should do next. For instance, a script has been shared for helping people backup their TextDrive data to StrongSpace.
A former TextDrive employee has also created an alternative to TextDrive called Kaizen Garden. Albeit, users have to pay between $25 and $100 per month. If this service gets enough support, Kaizen Garden hopes to hire another former employee to handle support tickets.
While TextDrive’s lifetime is ending, the TextDrive community may live on in one form or another.