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AOL UK Closes Hometown Webspace FTP Service

Posted: 06th Oct, 2008 By: MarkJ
Readers have informed us that AOL UK (Carphone Warehouse) intends to pull the plug on its 'AOL Hometown' service. Hometown provides customers with personal FTP accessible community web space for use in the creation of small websites, among other things.

Effective October 31st 2008, all the files in AOL Hometown/FTP space will be deleted and will no longer be available for download for all AOL members. Customers are being urged to save their content immediately and find an alternative. The following explanation has been offered:

AOL UK Statement: "It's never an easy decision to shut down a feature, especially one like AOL Hometown and FTP that some members have used for a long time. But we have to look carefully at all of AOL's features to make sure we are offering as much value to our members as possible. With many good Web Hosting services now available on the Web, Hometown and FTP aren't as widely used as they once were. So we've decided to focus more on popular free features like e-mail, AIM®, AOL® Radio and AOL® Desktop."

Naturally AOL has apologised for the move, which will affect customers around the world and not just at its UK division. The provider is also keen to stress that no other services will be impacted, only Hometown users.

The move has come as quite a shock to many customers, both in the UK and abroad. They have also been frustrated by the lack of warning, with just a single months notice being given:

ISPreview.co.uk Reader DavidB said: "I run our village website from my ftp space on AOL with webdiversion to it from my domain name registry. I have seen no other mention of this incredible decision anywhere else - this seems amazing. If it’s true it must be the end of AOL. I must certainly migrate to another ISP to keep the village website going."

Customers on AOL UK's message boards have shared in David's surprise at the move. Many have become accustomed to AOLs easy management system and could experience difficulty when moving to a new ISP or dedicated web hosting provider.

The sudden removal will also prevent customers from setting up a permanent redirect to any new web space they may adopt, which could result in a significant loss of visitors. Those seeking a dedicate website host as a replacement should check out our sister site - Host-Review.co.uk for a list of alternatives.

Unfortunately the prevalence of free alternatives and attractiveness of potential cost savings have caused other large UK ISPs to drop free extras, such as web space and sometimes even email, from their package features list. It is becoming a sad but increasingly common practice to do this although there is at least plenty of choice around.
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