The 1 million users of smartphones from Microsoft subsidiary, Danger, Inc. got a nasty surprise over the weekend:
A server meltdown over the weekend wiped out the master copies of personal data — including address books, calendars, to-do lists and photos — accumulated by users of T-Mobile’s formerly popular Sidekick smartphone.
This computing calamity allows Sidekick owners only a faint hope of backing up the information currently on their devices, and none of recovering anything they’d trusted to online storage. And it leaves T-Mobile and the operator of the Sidekick’s data service, a Microsoft subsidiary formerly known as Danger, Inc. — oh, the irony! — with some serious explaining to do.
Glitches in cloud computing services are not overly rare, but this one was rather unique:
But it is one of the few times a cloud-computing vendor didn’t have any backups — even though the Sidekick’s design leaves users without any easy way to copy their data to their own computers, and even though Microsoft and Danger should have known to run a new backup cycle when a bout of service glitches set in the week before Sidekick users’ data vanished down the bit bucket. It’s one thing for a distracted, inexperienced person at home to forget to back up data until it’s too late; it’s another for a company with the resources of Microsoft to make the same mistake.
Presumably, Microsoft is regretting the rumored US$500 million they spent acquiring Danger, Inc. in February 2008, but they should have done their own due diligence both before and after they bought the company. It may also have a deleterious effect on the rumored Microsoft "Pink" phone which is supposedly based on Danger, Inc designs.
Update: T-Mobile is holding out hope that some user data may still be restored and giving $100 credits to users with a significant loss of data. If you lost your business contact list, calendar, to-do list, and photos, would $100 cover your loss? In the meantime, Sidekick users are instructed not to remove the battery or reset their Sidekicks.