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Xmarks Calling it Quits



A service that I’ve come to rely on to keep all of my browsers on all my machines in sync is throwing in the towel. Xmarks, a bookmark synching service that was originally called Foxmarks, couldn’t find a way to monetize its popular service and a potential buyout fell through. Xmarks users can expect an email shortly, letting them know that the service will be winding down within the next 90 days.

I’ve installed Xmarks on every machine that I’ve unboxed and I’m sad to see the service go away. But this incident’s got me thinking about free cloud services again. As Xmarks co-founder Todd Agulnick explained in a blog update, popularity does not equal sustainability. It’s also a good reminder that nothing in this world is free. Every service and line of code out there cost somebody time, money or both. I’m willing to pay for services that I use a lot and I think a lot of others are too. If a service is good enough, developers should charge for it, or risk following in Xmark’s unfortunate footsteps.

I will be replacing Xmarks with other services, such as Chrome’s built-in sync feature, but it’s not quite the same. Chrome requires a Gmail account and it only syncs bookmarks to other computers running Chrome. Google doesn’t exactly have an incentive to make it easier to use IE or Safari. I really liked being able to use any browser on any device and feeling at home thanks to Xmarks. Farewell Xmarks…

Which free or low-cost services do you take for granted that you’d miss dearly if they went up in smoke tomorrow?



  1. Sarbjit Singh

    09/28/2010 at 2:02 am

    XMarks was really easy to use and made it easy to sync bookmarks across browsers. It is sad to see them go.

    However, I feel that you should stick to a single browser. Using chrome on all my machines makes me think that I can live without XMarks :)

  2. helt

    09/28/2010 at 2:50 am

    Im using Firefox sync. Its synching bookmarks, history(!) and other stuff by saving it (afaik) encrypted in a cloud. its an official mozilla addon.

    • Mike

      09/28/2010 at 8:43 am

      Yes – but you realize that “cloud” does not exist right and is just a term for networked services more or less.

      It is on a server (on more than one hopefully) someplace and somebody is paying to keep that server running.

  3. Steven

    09/28/2010 at 3:15 am

    I would be lost without Roboform.

  4. Djblois

    09/28/2010 at 4:18 am

    Roboform has a paid version.

  5. tivoboy

    09/28/2010 at 6:22 am

    Wow, definitely didn’t see that one coming. Been using it about five years now, across all platforms and browsers so changing will be a pain. Never used the password sync, so maybe the FF add-on but then it won’t work with chrome and safari. :-(

    maybe someone will just buy them up in the deadpool

  6. aftermath

    09/28/2010 at 6:38 am

    Just a reminder: Backing up your data means backing up ALL of YOUR data.

    Not every service shuts down gracefully or keeps their users and the public informed about changes that will affect them BEFORE those changes occur. Even several larger service have simply evaporate overnight in the interest of massive and immediate cost savings. Others spontaneously erect a paywall in front of your account if you’d like to proceed further.

    I am not a fan of RELYING on free services in general. As a logical corollary, I’m not a fan of even USING free services if I can’t import/export my data because, in that case, you’re relying on the availability of the tool itself as your unique interface to your data.

    If you’re making use of any sort of service like this, make sure that you’re regularly exporting and backing up your data. Fortunately, with a service like XMarks which is really built with syncing in mind, this isn’t that big of a deal. However, much in the same way still being alive does not imply that you’re immortal, just because you haven’t been burned yet by the volatility of a free service or your access to it doesn’t mean that you won’t.

  7. Mike

    09/28/2010 at 8:35 am

    Crap !
    Not only do I use it but I also have it set up for a few non-geek friends.

    • Mike

      09/28/2010 at 8:36 am

      You know – if I was a little more motivated..
      I am sure you could pretty easily write up a little app which would store the data in a google docs file (spreadsheet) and update, retrieve it etc…

  8. DannyC

    10/01/2010 at 4:40 am

    I’m afraid I’m not familiar with X Marks, but the service I have been using to collect and access bookmarks across platforms is Check it out. It has worked wonders for me and I used across all platforms including my mobile devices.

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