. Well, I might be being overly pessimistic about this (and I really hope that I'm wrong), but TechCrunch has just posted the following: Was Anyone Still In Doubt Over LiveUniverse’s Demise? They're saying that they've heard from multiple sources that LiveUniverse (the company that owns Pageflakes) has simply run out of money - this would appear to be confirmed by a tweet from a Twitter user who says 'liveuniverse just fired me, they closing it all down people, say good bye. :('
Given the amount of time that Pageflakes has been down I think we can assume that it's folded - the 'migration to new servers' story appears to be just that - a story. Apparently Brad Greenspan (the incompetent who owns the system) has told this tale before, acording to the Techcrunch. To be honest, even if it does actually come back up no-one is going to trust them again. Which is a real shame because the *resource* that is Pageflakes is superb and better than the competition in my opinion, but if the management structure cannot be trusted no-one is going to use it.
UPDATE: You have to laugh don't you. No sooner than I publish this post, but Pageflakes returns. I've been able to log into my account and can confirm that it's up. Not a single word in the forums however, as to what has been going on. Nothing in the blog or the press centre either. My advice is still as above - grab your content and copy it elsewhere.
This does open a huge can of worms of course. I think the most obvious question is the extent to which we can trust our data to the 'cloud' as it were. For a lot of material we can take backups - if you've got data on Google docs for example, you can keep local copies, or if you're using Flickr you can have copies of the data backed up elsewhere. However, if you're using a resource where the information is in part defined by the resource, such as start pages or indeed bookmarking services (and it's worth while mentioning that Magnolia is currently experiencing a lot of problems) it becomes much more difficult. I created a Netvibes backup site some time ago and kept it reasonably up to date, but even so, I've lost huge amounts of data that I'll have to reproduce elsewhere. I know that lots of other Pageflakes users are in exactly the same situation.
This is the first time that I've used a Web 2.0 resource that's just simply died. Having said that though, the warning signs have been around for the last week or so. However, I think it's reasonable to assume that if a resource is going to cease trading as it were they are going to know this in advance and whatever management structure is in place will be honest, competent and ethical enough to let users know in advance. There was absolutely no official warning or comment other than the bogus 'back in a few hours, just moving to a new server' nonsense. Does that mean that we shouldn't trust Web 2.0 products? I don't really think so, since I'd broaden it out to say 'don't trust any products, from the banks on down'. Google threw a wobbly over the weekend. They recently canned five different products as well. The question is less about trust, it's much more about backups. If you're using a system, back up your data as best you can. Accept that if you're using something (even if you're paying for it), it's not 100% reliable. That shouldn't necessarily stop you using something, but as for trust - that's another matter. We all use electricity, and I'll bet that most of us keep candles to hand for the powercuts!
If you're considering where to go in order to create a new home/start page there are a few alternatives. The obvious winner here is Netvibes, with iGoogle being the second choice. However, if you want an off the wall choice, which actually looks very much like Pageflakes you could try WebWag which is quite fun. Alternatively, try my Start Page resource, which lists about 20 different resources. (If you look at the page right now you'll see Pageflakes still listed as my favourite - that's next on the list to change!). Alternatively, try my Web 2.0 applications weblog which also lists start pages and is at http://philbradley.typepad.com/i_want_to/create_a_personalised_start_page/