Microsoft to Sidekick Users: We Seem to Have Lost Your Data

By  |  Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 12:52 am

Danger SidekickI’ve always admired the Sidekick smartphone–the first one was the first really good pocketable Web device–but found the name of the company behind it, Danger, kinda discordant. Now it appears to be prophetic: As Engadget is reporting, this week’s service disruption appears to be the least of Sidekick users’ worries. The T-Mobile forums have a message from T-Mobile and Danger (which is now part of Microsoft) saying that any data not currently on user’s devices has most likely been lost:

Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger’s latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device – such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos – that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger. That said, our teams continue to work around-the-clock in hopes of discovering some way to recover this information.

Breathtaking. Extended Internet-related service outages are commonplace, but major examples of data loss involving large companies aren’t so common. (This brings to mind Ma.gnolia’s meltdown in January, but that service was run by one guy–not by the largest software company in the world.) It’s going to be fascinating to hear Microsoft’s explanation of what happened, and why it apparently has no usable backup of its customers’ data. And to see just what long-term effect this has on the Danger platform, which is supposedly the basis for Microsoft’s allegedly troubled “Pink” phone project.

My assumption is usually that big Internet-savvy companies are going to do a better job of religiously backing up data than I am, but this is a wake-up call: None of us really have a clue how safe our data is when it’s stored in the cloud. Not to mention a massive embarrassment for Microsoft


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11 Comments For This Post

  1. Mike Cerm Says:

    I’ve never owned a Sidekick, but I’m just curious; how much data do they store EXCLUSIVELY in the cloud? I have a Pre, which backs-up to the cloud (in the form of the Palm Profile), but all the data stays local to the phone. If Palm’s servers go down, I wouldn’t be able to backup/restore anything, but that’s also not something that needs to be done regularly. Is the Sidekick really doing something different that Palm with regands to data storage?

    Though, the more obvious (and rhetorical question): How hard is it to backup important customer data? Storage is so freakin’ cheap that, whether you’re Ma.gnolia or Google, keeping a workable backup should be a drop-in-the-bucket of your total operating cost, and is necessary, because even a small data-loss can kill a service forever in customers’ eyes.

  2. Alan Ralph Says:

    Ouch! They are going to have to come up with a pretty good story to explain how this happened – what’s the betting they’ll palm off the blame onto the people responsible for the servers?

  3. Dave Says:

    One reason to not completely trust “the cloud”.

  4. DaveZatz Says:

    What’s amazing to me is that this is NOT a new device. I had the original way back in like in 2001 or so. You’d think many years later that they’d have a fault tolerant infrastructure in place.

  5. Macsmarts Says:

    They probably •did• have a fault tolerent architecture in place… Then they were bought by Microsoft.

  6. BJ Says:

    Are the Google services any different? Except for the paying Apps customer, I would assume there are no backups being made. About the only service I’ve seen actually talk about backups and fault tolerance is Smugmug. Has anybody seen any of these companies explicitly talk about backups?

  7. Backlin Says:

    Nice one Macsmarts. But not keeping at least one backup of this data somewhere has got to be the dumbest thing I have heard of, should it be proved to be true. I’d backup my data on my computer first, if there’s a utility that allows for that.

  8. Chip Says:

    I hope this isn’t traced to upgrading to Windows7 Server.

  9. Tech Says:

    I wonder how many users have lost all of their data now. It’s hard to trust Microsoft when things like this happen.

  10. Eric Says:

    I have been a sidekick user since December 2004, almost 5 years now. I am literally being held hostage right now by T-Mobile and their announcement they are supposed to make later today. I may found out I’ve literally 5 years worth of lyrics/songs I wrote, over 700 contacts in my phone, any and all calendar dates, any information and settings I had on my phone, my ringtones, autotexts, literally….everything…..

    The reason this happens is that the device holds the information on it locally but only if you keep the battery charged and in the device. If you remove the battery from the devicde or allow the device to fully discharge then all information will be lost. However, on a normal occassion when Microsoft hasn’t epicly FAILED at the #1 most important thing in the business world the information would be back on the phone within 20 minutes.

    I refuse to believe that Microsoft had no backups of any of this data, they have owned this company a year and a half now! I honestly think to be completely honest that Microsoft has done this purposely. They have no interest in the Sidekick, nor having a contract with T-Mobile forcing them to continue making it, and what better way to completely kill the device than to have an “outage” that lasts for over a week followed by the “almost certain” loss of all the customer’s data. If the Sidekick dies, there’s no more Danger/T-Mobile contract. Microsoft gets what they want, as they always do, and in this case they now have the Danger technology that they want so badly for their Windows Mobile platform.

  11. Steve Says:

    I don’t think the danger servers were any implentation of what is called “cloud computing”. Merely hosting a service on the net, such as a database for phones, does not make it a cloud. However ot does bring up concerns of storing data at a provider with no local user copy… Cloud computing or not


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