T-Mobile Sidekick user data lost in Microsoft server crash

tmobile-sidekick-colorT-Mobile Sidekick users are a loyal bunch. Many have likely even taken on a new 2-year contract with Deutsch Telekom-owned T-Mobile USA just so that they could to put a Microsoft/Danger Sidekick in their pockets. Unfortunately for them, Microsoft’s Sidekick servers have recently taken a nose-dive, taking user data (contacts, photos, calendar, etc.) down with the Sidekick-ship. That could leave Sidekick users singing a different tune.

What’s the big deal? Well, Sidekick handsets need to be linked to the Sidekick servers in order to keep data synchronized. When those servers go down, so does the link. That wouldn’t have been a problem if Microsoft had backed-up the data and restored Sidekick servers back to their pre-crash state. But, it seems Microsoft didn’t get those back-ups in place. It’s puzzling that the company known for its crash-prone Windows operating system wasn’t prepared for a server crash.

T-Mobile USA says that Sidekick users with missing data will have “almost certainly” lost that data forever. Microsoft’s Danger division says 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.” We say its a huge embarrassment for the giant software company.

While this server-outage isn’t the first for cloud-based services, it’s arguably the worst of its kind. We’ve seen outages ranging from Google’s Gmail to RIM’s BlackBerry servers to Apple’s MobileMe service causing headaches users in the past, but this Sidekick crash has actually killed data. With the tech space is increasingly moving towards cloud-storage services that keep all personal data stored on remote servers, the reliability of “the cloud” is all the more important. Especially if it’s for business.

There’s also the possibility that this Sidekick crash could leave Microsoft with enough egg on their face to affect sales of the new Windows Mobile 6.5 mobile operating system. The new mobile OS sports a phone-backup service called “My Phone” that keeps phone data (contacts, calendar, photos, etc.) synced with Microsoft’s servers. If those servers go down and you lose your Windows Phone, things could get ugly. On the upside, Microsoft will probably learn from this whole Sidekick fiasco and make the take the proper precautions with My Phone servers.

We’ve contacted Microsoft for an update on the situation.

[Update]
T-Mobile has gotten service restored, but some data has been forever lost. All customers will get a free month of service, and some will be offered “additional” compensation to “reinforce how valuable [they] are as a T-Mobile customer.”

Here’s T-Mobile’s official statement:

Virtually all data services have been restored. Also, T-Mobile voice and text services were not impacted.

A subset of Sidekick customers appear to have lost data. We do not have an exact number, but we believe it is a minority of customers. We recognize the magnitude of this inconvenience. Our primary efforts have been focused on restoring our customers’ personal content.

Sidekick sales are temporarily on hold as Microsoft/Danger continues to work on maintaining platform stability. At this point, virtually all data services are operational.

All impacted Sidekick users will receive credit for one month of Sidekick data service. We recognize the magnitude of this inconvenience. Our primary efforts have been focused on restoring our customers’ personal content. We also are considering additional measures for those who have lost your content to help reinforce how valuable you are as a T-Mobile customer.

[Via: Reuters]

  • cdkeli

    It’s this kind of stuff that really reflects the stupidity and hubris of the human race. Back in the 60′s everyone thought we’d be colonizing Mars and probing the galaxy with our spaceships by now. The reality is far different. The real challenges will always remain far more prosaic and invariably well-trenched here on Earth.

    ps: The really sad thing about this TMobil failure is that nobody really understands why the system crashed. They’ll tolerate this failure because the ecomics of correcting for the problem is outweighed by its perceived low rate of incidence. That’s how the greedy business mind works to undermine competent and responsible engineering.

    • Joe

      Were you even alive in the 60′s or did you base that comment on some vintage sci-fi B films?

      Actually when a server crashes, it leaves a very detailed record of what happened in the logs. If all the hard drives failed simultaneously but were not backed up, then that would be obvious too..

      You can’t stop servers from crashing. You can only provide backups. In this case, that was overlooked.

  • Francisco

    This really screwed me over. Lately The department of veteran affairs gave me a big lumpsum of money to catch up on my bills. The money clip function on my phone stored all my financial information, and it’s all erased now. This will make it hard to explain the department of education funds how I been spending the money they give me.

  • Flake

    I wouldn’t say its soo much of microsofts fault.. More Dangers (the sidekick operating system) microsoft just recently bought danger so I doubt they had time to impliment their backup and secure system. I believe this won’t effect the image of the windows mobile 6.5

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