The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

Digital Railroad Derailed.

Posted by Rod Leland on October 30, 2008

Digital Railroad has officially shut its doors.  The service that operated for four years at the domain digitalrailroad.net went offline a couple days ago.  DRR operated a service for photographers to backup, archive, and sell stock photos online.  The site had 1900 users (and even a few BIG wire services) that stored and archived thousands upon thousands of photos on the site to introduce geographic redundancy into their workflow, and to make money.

Two days ago, the admins of the site sent out an email to their users informing them that they were shutting down and had 24 hours to offload any photos they wished to keep.  This act by the higher-ups at DRR is completely out of line in my mind.  Shutting the doors is one thing, but leaving thousands of people high-and-dry with little to no notice is completely inexcusable. They likely didn’t think things through too much either, as this notice from the admins had users franticly migrating their photos for syndication elsewhere all at the same time, which inevitably crashed the servers.

There were rumblings around the middle of the month when DRR announced major shuffling of management at the company, as well as some layoffs.  It’s clear now, however, that the wheels have completely fallen off.  The phones won’t get picked up at their office. The site leaves only a paltry text-based announcement/apology.

Thankfully, I was personally unaffected by DRR’s failure.  I use a competing service, Photoshelter.  I believe in the people there, the service, the technology behind their servers, and more importantly, Photoshelter is integrated directly into my sorting/ingesting/viewing app, Photo Mechanic. Photoshelter, in yet another great business move, has built a migration tool for DRR users to help them retain their meticulously created keywords and bring the files straight across to the Photoshelter servers.  The guys over at Photoshelter have also offered to honor 3 months worth of DRR subscription, effectively giving most DRR users three free months at Photoshelter.

The final numbers aren’t in yet, but it appears photographers have had mixed results recovering their data.  Remember, because of the space constraints most photographers only keep their best-of, portfolio, crowning, one-of-a-kind shots online.  Hopefully most of the DRR users had the sense to keep their best photos stored elsewhere as well.  The loss of a carefully organized and key-word organized database is quite a loss nonetheless.

R.I.P. Digital Railroad, we barely got to know each other.

-Rod Leland

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