Sidekick Data Service Disruption Shows Dark Side Of Cloud Computing

After a major server outage occurred with Microsoft's Danger servers last Friday, users across the country have reported lost address books, weird text messaging problems, and other forms of data loss. Now, T-Mobile is informing Sidekick users that their personal data and photos "almost certainly has been lost."

While service outages have hit various online services including Google's Gmail, RIM's BlackBerrys, and Apple's MobileMe apps, this particular outage has hit users in the worst possible way since the company has lost nearly all of its users' data and has no alternative backup plan for recovering it.

For T-Mobile's SideKick phone users, this outage shows the dark side of cloud computing.  SideKick phones rely on Danger's online service to supply applications such as contacts, calendars, IM and SMS, media player, and other features of the device, and to store the data associated with those applications.

In a post on T-Mobile's Sidekick forums, Danger, Microsoft, and T-Mobile issued a joint apology for the Sidekick data interruption. The companies are still trying to find a way to recover some of the information. However, there is not a lot of hope for recovering the data. For the lucky customers who haven't lost their data, it's recommended that you do not reset your device or let the battery drain completely.

T-Mobile plans to communicate the status of remaining issues on Monday. The full announcement from T-Mobile's forums is available below.

Sidekick customers, during this service disruption, please DO NOT remove your battery, reset your Sidekick, or allow it to lose power.

Updated: 10/10/2009 12:35 PM PDT


Dear valued T-Mobile Sidekick customers:

T-Mobile and the Sidekick data services provider, Danger, a subsidiary of Microsoft, are reaching out to express our apologies regarding the recent Sidekick data service disruption.

We appreciate your patience as Microsoft/Danger continues to work on maintaining platform stability, and restoring all services for our Sidekick customers.

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. 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. As such, we wanted to share this news with you and offer some tips and suggestions to help you rebuild your personal content. You can find these tips in our Sidekick Contacts FAQ. We encourage you to visit the Forums on a regular basis to access the latest updates as well as FAQs regarding this service disruption.

In addition, we plan to communicate with you on Monday (Oct. 12) the status of the remaining issues caused by the service disruption, including the data recovery efforts and the Download Catalog restoration which we are continuing to resolve. We also will communicate any additional tips or suggestions that may help in restoring your content.

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 of you who have lost your content to help reinforce how valuable you are as a T-Mobile customer.

We continue to advise customers to NOT reset their device by removing the battery or letting their battery drain completely, as any personal content that currently resides on your device will be lost.

Once again, T-Mobile and Microsoft/Danger regret any and all inconvenience this matter has caused.