Yahoo closes Geocities web hosting

BEIJING, October 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Yahoo's web hosting service, GeoCities, has closed after 15 years of offering people the ability to set up their own website. GeoCities once boasted millions of users but has fallen out of fashion in recent years. Free blogging services such as Blogger, Wordpress and Typepad as well as social networking sites have left GeoCities with fewer users.

Yahoo acquired the site for 3.57 billion U.S. dollars in 1999 at the height of the dotcom boom, though the site had been operating since 1994 after being established by David Bohnett and John Rezner as the Beverly Hills Internet. Yahoo said sites would no longer be accessible from 26th October, however some pages will still be accessible via the nonprofit Internet Archive project. The giant digital library, which has been archiving the public web since 1996, has set up a special project to archive GeoCities before it is lost forever. "We've collected a lot of GeoCities sites over the years - but might not have every site and every page," the Internet Archive said.

It had also asked GeoCities users to check whether their site has been archived before Yahoo pulls the plug. "GeoCities has been an important outlet for personal expression on the web for almost 15 years," it said. Several companies, including Yahoo, have also tried to entice GeoCities users to move their pages to paid-for hosting services. In a written statement, a spokeswoman said that Yahoo decided "after careful consideration" to shut down the site. "We have enjoyed hosting Web sites created by Yahoo! users all over the world, and we're proud of the community that has been built," the statement said. "Yahoo! discontinued GeoCities on October 26, 2009, as part of our ongoing effort to prioritize our portfolio of products and services in order to deliver the best products to consumers." The statement noted that other Yahoo features, including Yahoo! 360, My Web and Yahoo! Briefcase, have also been closed recently.

In April this year, Yahoo said that it was closing the site and would now focus on helping "customers build new relationships online". When Yahoo announced the end of the GeoCities, Rupert Goodwins, editor of the ZDNet technology website, said it was the end of an era. "I think GeoCities was the first proof that you could have something really popular and still not make any money on the internet. It was a fascinating experiment in the pre-industrial era of the internet."

For those that have failed to download or move their pages, it is now too late to act. According to Yahoo users who do not download files and images before October 26, 2009 will no longer be able to access the data. "After October 26, your GeoCities files will be deleted from our servers, and will not be recoverable," a statement on their website reads.