Sidekick Cloud Computing Data Lost, MS to Blame

Dennis Faas's picture

Users of the Sidekick range of smartphones have been warned that technical problems may mean some of the data they stored on the device has been permanently lost. The story follows a period of around a week during which no users of the device were able to access any data services.

The phones are carried by the T-Mobile network in the US, and are produced by Danger, now a subsidiary of Microsoft. One of the key aspects of the devices are that they work on cloud computing, meaning most data is stored remotely at a Microsoft owned server rather than on the device.

In theory this make for a smooth and efficient system as phones are virtually always able to connect to the server. The problem comes when, as appears to have happened, that server fails without a back-up.

Data Disappeared First Week of October

The devices were unable to access data services between October 1st and October 8th, 2009. However, some users found they were still missing data such as contact lists, photos and calendar entries when the service came back online. T-Mobile says this data has "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. However, the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low." (Source:

Do Not Remove Battery

The firm has put together a guide to ways users may be able to recover some of the data. It says the most important point to note is that users should not remove the battery or let it drain completely as this will reset the phone and make any temporary data loss permanent. (Source:

Details of Data Loss Not Clear

The full details behind the data loss aren't yet clear. However, some sites are reporting that the original outage began when Microsoft attempted to upgrade the server which houses Sidekick user data. The permanent loss reportedly came because of problems during the upgrade, with Microsoft having failed to back up the server before starting work. If true, this would be a spectacularly embarrassing situation. (Source:

Some may see this incident as a failing of the entire cloud computing concept. In reality it's a failure in behavior. Individual users may have been silly not to back-up their phone's data, for example to a PC, but Microsoft appears to have been reckless in not backing it up at its end.

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