T-Mobile and Microsoft Danger backup fiasco causes personal data loss

The Microsoft-owned mobile technology provider Danger Inc. has caused massive inconvenience to owners of the T-Mobile branded Sidekick handset. In a recent data loss disaster, all personal data, including calendars, contact information and notes has been completely destroyed. Because Microsoft did not back up any of the data they have been forced to release a statement admitting that most of the lost data is irrecoverable.

Sidekick operates largely using cloud computing whereby much of the user’s information is not stored locally on their own device. This is why the malfunction of Microsoft Danger’s Storage Area Network (SAN) has resulted in such comprehensive and catastrophic data loss.

Sidekick users first experienced service issues on October 1st and as such an official account of the events which led to the data loss has yet to surface. There are many rumours from various sources, but one particular version of events has been widely publicised. According to various sources including Hiptop and Techcrunch, Microsoft commissioned Hitachi to perform an upgrade or modification of the Sidekick’s SAN. During the process an error – the nature of which has yet to be identified – occurred, resulting in the destruction of personal data for all users.

What many find baffling is the fact that Microsoft and by association T-Mobile, did not have an emergency backup system to protect all of their customer data. It should certainly have been a key consideration for both parties during the SAN upgrade process. The apparent incompetence or forgetfulness of some of the largest corporations in the world has left hundreds of thousands of customers stranded with millions of important items of data destroyed.

Microsoft Danger and T-Mobile have offered a slim ray of hope, but only for those Sidekick users who had more foresight than the companies themselves. If a user has not switched off their Sidekick then the data will still be stored locally on their device. As such, synchronising with the restored SAN will back up the data remotely once more. However, the complete lack of a suitable emergency backup system has already destroyed customer confidence. This will have ramifications not just amongst the Sidekick user base but also for users of any handset running the Windows Mobile platform as the competence of Microsoft is called into question.

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