Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Fail Loses Sidekick Data

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A Microsoft server failure is leaving T-Mobile Sidekick owners in the lurch if their smartphone loses power. Thanks to the failure, Sidekick owners are finding that all of their cloud-based data is lost if the device is reset or if the battery is removed or fully drained.

T-Mobile said in a statement "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."

Danger, the company behind the Sidekick, is owned by Microsoft and its data storage services for users runs on Microsoft-based servers.

One compelling feature for Sidekick owners has been -- at least until a few days ago -- the ability to store their device's data online so it's always available, even if they switch to a different Sidekick. The feature is a perfect example of how cloud computing can work, and now an example of how fragile it can be, too.

Users that chose to store their data just on their Sidekick or were using alternate methods to backup their data should be fine, but a substantial number of customers were relying on Danger and Microsoft to protect their data, and it looks as if Microsoft failed to back up that information.

According to Hiptop 3, Microsoft apparently managed to lose every Sidekick owner's data while upgrading storage servers without a backup in place.

The incident comes at a bad time for Microsoft since there are rumors that it is preparing to jump into the smartphone game with its own products. If true, potential customers may have a hard time trusting the Redmond-based company knowing it lost Sidekick user data.

The Sidekick data loss also is a clear reminder that cloud-based computing -- whether it's handled by Microsoft's Danger, Apple's MobileMe, or Google -- shouldn't be relied on as a single data backup point regardless of which company is managing the system.

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14 Comments Leave Your Own

Lee Dronick

A good reminder that it is again time to printout my address book.

SirDennis

A good reminder that it is again time to printout my address book.

Print out? PRINT OUT? You mean like, on paper? Come on folks, don’t let this article about Microsoft’s backup stupidity cause you to forget it’s your responsibility to back up your files - either via external drive, iDisk, CD/DVD’s or whatever else you want to use to avoid killing all those trees for paper! wink

fultonkbd

Print out? PRINT OUT? You mean like, on paper? Come on folks, don?t let this article about Microsoft?s backup stupidity cause you to forget it?s your responsibility to back up your files - either via external drive, iDisk, CD/DVD?s or whatever else you want to use to avoid killing all those trees for paper!

How about etching them in stone smile

Jeff Gamet

it?s your responsibility to back up your files

You are absolutely correct. Ultimately, everyone is responsible for their own data protection. The sad thing in this situation is that Microsoft and Danger gave Sidekick users the impression that their data was safe, and the less tech-savvy people that don’t get the importance of multiple backups got burned.

SirDennis

on. The sad thing in this situation is that Microsoft and Danger gave Sidekick users the impression that their data was safe

Jeff, you too are correct. It’s certainly sad when the “Big Bad Wolf” is able to convince the “Little Piggy” (no harm intended) to open its door only to get burned. Especially vulnerable are those who folks are not tech-savvy, which may/might/probably make up a good number of T-Mobile Sidekick customers.

Lee Dronick

How about etching them in stone

They are etched into a DVD

Yes, Sir Dennis, I mean paper. Now it is recycled paper, the backs of printouts from my wife’s homework and class projects.

Addresses can be hard to recreate. Also I don’t care about passwords to blogs and such, but for my bank and other really important online accounts I want a physical backup.

geoduck

We use backups to an external drive, but critical stuff like passwords are written in a little hardbound book and locked up away from the computer. Same goes with the master copies of Address Books.

This is an example of why I’m not as enthusiastic about ‘cloud computing’ as some others. My data, my companies data, my private files, my writing, is going to be stored on my systems and backed up to my external drive. Nobody is going to steal it. Nobody is going to claim ‘this million dollar photo was stored on our system so it’s now our property’. If things fail and I lose data then there’s nobody else to try and blame. Sure it’s a pain sometimes, and I can see the cloud would be useful for some things. I just won’t trust some unknown third party with my mission critical stuff.

Lancashire-Witch

In my experience making backups is not the problem. It’s restoring that’s the problem.  The only time I have had reason to restore a file (a spreadsheet) from a backup the restore process failed (Iomega Automatic Backup Pro on a PC).
Now I print my spreadsheet!

I notice every time I connect my iPhone to my Mac iTunes shows a message about backing up the phone; but I don’t see anywhere in itunes where I can restore the phone from that backup (I know about the “factory restore” option).

Lee Dronick

I notice every time I connect my iPhone to my Mac iTunes shows a message about backing up the phone; but I don?t see anywhere in itunes where I can restore the phone from that backup (I know about the ?factory restore? option).

See this Apple Support Document among other things it gives you info about where the file is stored.

deasys

This is an example of why I?m not as enthusiastic about ?cloud computing? as some others

...at least, not if Microsoft runs it, right? I think Microsoft stands alone when it comes to this level of incompetence:

Microsoft?s Sidekick/Pink problems blamed on dogfooding and sabotage

lh

I also keep a written record on my addresses, passwords and application serial numbers.  I backup to external drives however as Lancashire-Witch said, restoring is the problem.

fultonkbd

Every person is responsible for their own data true enough. That includes Microsoft and T-Mobile. They have failed to back up their data.

I would think it’s safe to assume that most users were under the impression that if the server failed that a back up would take its place with a little disruption of service.

And yes, even back ups fail. That’s called back luck.

Angry Customer

Forum.sidekickfail.com has recently been created as an open and neutral place sidekick customers can exchange ideas and vent without the fear of their valuable thoughts, ideas, and opinions being deleted and disrespected as T-Mobile has been doing on their forums.

Laurie Fleming

Addresses can be hard to recreate. Also I don?t care about passwords to blogs and such, but for my bank and other really important online accounts I want a physical backup.

But what about security? I suggest you print it out on paper, encrypt it with AES-128, carve it onto a wooden table and take a photograph (with a black-and-white film camera). Then destroy the paper and table. You should be safe then.

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