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Western Digital buys Upthere to build better cloud storage features

Western Digital has long been the go-to name for physically backing up your files — and a new acquisition means it’s now looking to take on cloud storage, too. The company announced today that it’s purchased Upthere, which offers apps that sync files and photos across devices, and it intends to continue building out the service.

Upthere was founded in 2011 but only went public with its first apps in 2015. It’s been quiet since then, which suggests the company’s apps didn’t catch on. Upthere promised to simplify syncing and later finding your files, but that’s a pretty difficult pitch, especially since Google and Apple have been getting much better at both of those things in the past couple years — and they don’t always charge you for it.

Upthere will continue under Western Digital, and it’s supposed to keep creating new features and products. It’s not clear if any sort of integration with Western Digital’s physical backup drives is being planned — for now, all Western Digital is offering is an exceptionally vague statement about how the acquisition “will enhance [Western Digital]’s consumer products portfolio with new cloud-based offerings.”

The sale of Upthere marks the second time in a week that there’s been a notable shift in the cloud backup ecosystem. Last week, CrashPlan announced that it would be shutting down its consumer offering and only serving business users. The moves speak to just how hard of a market this is for any company that isn’t already in control of the core platform — that is, Apple, Google, or Microsoft. Ultimately, these services need to make backing up files more convenient; and having to switch over to specific apps, or shuttle files from one app to another, isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of convenience.

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