Unseen.is Outage: All Your Eggs In One Basket

A while back I migrated my primary communications through this blog over to Tutanota- a freeware email client that offers an end to end encryption and VPN for other clients on the Tutanota server. I had several ask why I had done that. This is part of the reason why:


About a week ago, Unseen suffered a hardware failure in the Thor data center in Iceland. Four hard drives in a RAID failed. The drives have been replaced and rebuilt and of 8 hypervisors that run the email system, 1 of these failed to restart. We tried restoring from a recent backup, but the back up was corrupted. We are still working to restore the data from the drives, but it’s possible that data is lost. Having four drives fail at once is highly unusual.

Who is affected? Only email is affected, chat is not affected. About 1/8th of our Unseen user’s email is affected, 7/8th of our users have had no effect and see normal service. If you have not been able to access your Unseen email, you might be affected. If you used POP3 or IMAP (which most users do), you already have a complete backup of all your email. If you used web mail only to access your Unseen, if you don’t have a backup, it’s possible your data is lost, though we are going to try to recover it if the drives do not have physical damage. Unseen was designed to be a secure communications system, not a cloud data storage service; please keep your own backup always.

Let the devs know which account(s) you have that are affected and we can restart them so you can begin using your Unseen account. Please tell them both the Unseen.is account name and the recovery email (as a security check).

We’re very sorry for this outage, and apologize to everyone for the inconvenience or any loss of data.

We are now at a crossroads. Email and other centralized communications are easily disrupted. Privacy is not the biggest concern, rather censorship or disruption or interference with communications is becoming a huge issue. The centralized model along with services like email are dying.

Other non-Unseen services operated by our team members have also been targeted, experiencing disruption of advertising revenue, loss of bank accounts (for no good reason), hassling of employees or contractors and so on. For these reasons, we think the only future for a service like Unseen will be using a non-centralized Peer to Peer (P2P) communications system and business model. Over time the centralized services will be completely phased out, including the current centralized chat and email. Everything will become P2P though we don’t know exactly when the new services will be perfected. We will work towards a seamless transfer.

This means the company Unseen, ehf will be shut down and everything will move to a pure opensource and distributed model, similar to how bitcoin operates. Payments will be done between users on the network using crypto only, as the project will not have any centralized team or bank accounts, it will have only peers/nodes. FLASHcoin.io will be the primary payment medium. Premium Unseen users will get special features and some FLASH to use on the network. It will also be possible for individuals or businesses to provide services on the network and charge a fee. If you paid for premium in the past six months and no longer wish to use P2P continue, we can arrange a refund if that’s what you want. You are free to test out the new system and opt out if you don’t like it.

The first version of Unseen P2P will be based on RetroShare’s network technology and it should be available for testing within two weeks. We will send a message to everyone letting them know the specifics. The initial features will be chat and group chat, a contact manager, a type of P2P email for inside the network, file storage, channels and fora (forums for you Americans), and shortly after the initial version is released, we will build a way for Unseen users to migrate all their Unseen contacts over.

We think this is the best and most responsible way to protect our Unseen users and help them move to a bright future.

The Unseen Team

It sound like to me they were losing their rear in server fees and had an ‘accident’. Nothing works great forever. Do one thing for a while, then change it up. Privacy starts with you- don’t set patterns and don’t keep critical information all in one spot. If you don’t your data have multiple external hard drives (shielded and kept in a safe spot), or better yet, printed on paper, then it’s not doing you much good.

It’s not that tutanota is any better or that I have any illusion that it’s not somehow compromised too- it’s that I know email is only an enabler, and not a particularly good one at that if sound methods aren’t being employed. Gotta be ahead of the curve.

3 thoughts on “Unseen.is Outage: All Your Eggs In One Basket

  1. Lol, that’s funny. I manage large production environments for a living and it sounded like they didn’t even try with redundancy or disaster recovery. After doing a lot of research, months ago, I decided to go with Proton Mail. I found that Unseen didn’t even make their own server side software, they used proprietary email server software made in the US. Also, I want my email hosted in a country that doesn’t have a extradition treaty. Granted, it’s still not secure being electronic, but anything to throw a wrench in things. But to be honest, I still used Gmail for most everything, I really need to move everything over. Tutanota is good as well, but since they are in Spain they have an extradition treaty with the US. Either way, any service that is encrypted end-to-end, encrypts storage, does not log use any in identifiable way, and is open source is MUCH more secure than free services where your email is scanned for advertising purposes and handed over to the NSA on a regular basis.

    1. pablo

      Protonmail is very good. They have good 2FA and I also like that their servers are in an almost untouchable location. I use it in tandem with blur for anonymous forwarding.

  2. ConSigCor

    Tried Unseen when it first became the “new thing”. Never could get it to work properly for me. May have been operator error.

    Have used both tutanota and protonmail for several years with zero issues. Plus have other backups ‘just in case’.

    If all else fails, fire up the tubes and light the afterburner. 🙂

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