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Sunday, 11 October 2009 16:56

Sidekick FAIL reveals danger of data in the cloud

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Microsoft subsidiary Danger admits that user data has been lost in the cloud, and is most likely not coming back.

Users of the T-Mobile 'Danger Sidekick' device have been experiencing something of a nightmare vision of the future: a future where your address books, calendars and let's face it pretty much your entire life is kept in the cloud. And then vanishes without trace into the ether.

Things looked grim last week when the owners of those T-Mobile Sidekick devices, using in-the-cloud data services provider Danger, saw those data services go down and take access to their data with them.

The immediate and vocal complaints in support forums moved from concern and dismay to anger and allegation when access to that data was not restored quickly. Now it seems that data will not be restored at all, it has been lost in the cloud for good.

When Microsoft acquired Danger, the company behind the Sidekick smartphone device, last year we reported how it thought the business was a "perfect compliment to our existing software and services" and would strengthen the Microsoft "dedication to improving mobile experiences centered around individuals and what they like".

I cannot imagine many Sidekick users like the feeling of loss that they are experiencing right now, it has to be said.

Who would have thought that a subsidiary of Microsoft, that very high profile supporter of the cloud computing model, would have screwed up so badly. How badly? Well it would appear from reports online that Danger only stored the data on a single server for starters.

In a prepared statement to customers, T-Mobile and Microsoft/Danger say they are "reaching out to express our apologies regarding the recent Sidekick data service disruption" and "appreciate your patience as Microsoft/Danger continues to work on maintaining platform stability, and restoring all services for our Sidekick customers".

Unfortunately, that will be cold comfort for the users whose data has disappeared up the cloudy wazoo as the statement continues "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".

Microsoft Danger insists that technical teams are working around-the-clock in order to try and find some way of recovering the lost data, but has to admit "the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low".

In the meantime, customers are advised not to reset their Sidekick by removing the battery or letting it drain down completely as any data residing on the device itself will then also be lost.

Nice. Welcome to the future...

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