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Phone users find data is here today, gone tomorrow

10:21 AM Mon, Oct 12, 2009 |
Posted by: Walt Zwirko
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The Internet has a “cloud.” That’s the word tech types use to describe the place where millions of us now store our e-mail, our photos, and other important personal information.

Like a real cloud, the Internet “cloud” is (at least to us) rather ill-defined and ever-changing.

When you use Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo to look at your electronic mail, you don’t know where the computer is that is storing all that information for you. It could be anyplace on Earth; you have just come to expect that typing the correct information into your Web browser will let you read your mail.

Similarly, users of Snapfish, Picasa and Shutterfly entrust their precious photos to these Web sites for sharing and storage.

 That’s why it’s extremely disheartening to learn that users of T-Mobile’s Sidekick cell phone who relied on the “cloud” to store their contacts and other personal data just got some bad news: The data — managed by the Danger subsidiary of Microsoft — is apparently gone.

“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,” said a statement to users posted on T-Mobile’s Web site.

The statement indicated that while engineers are continuing to try and resolve the problem, “the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low.”

One user of the popular messaging phone summed up his feelings this way on a T-Mobile online forum: “I am devastated … I can’t even begin to tell you what I’ve lost.”

The original Sidekick wasn’t sophisticated enough to store all this information in memory contained within the handset, so it transmitted that data to the Microsoft/Danger computers in the “cloud.”

And that’s the danger of the “cloud.”

Unfortunately, because of the Sidekick’s design, owners had limited options for making backup copies of their personal information.

But if you’re using the “cloud” for storing your photos, e-mail, names and numbers using other smartphones or your computer, let this be a warning: Make backup copies of important information on memory cards or USB drives or CDs or DVDs.

It can take some time, and it’s not always convenient, but try to imagine life without your favorite photos, or without that list of 1,000 contacts you’ve carefully cultivated over the past several years.

T-Mobile says it will credit Sidekick users with one month of service “to address any inconvenience.” That’s a small gesture, however, for many loyal customers.

“I just want to give hell to whom is responsible for this,” another user said on the T-Mobile forum.

E-mail askwalt@wfaa.com



5 Comments

I can’t begin to stress how important it is to make backup copies of information. I work in IT and I constantly have to be aware of data backup strategies and contingencies.

For my personal life, I am almost obsessive about backing up my data. I have an external hard drive that runs a backup of my main C drive every morning, then on top of that I back up all of my photos and music onto DVD once a week, so at any given time I have three copies of the same photo/music file – the original on my C drive, the backup on my external drive and the backup on DVD.

Yes it can be annoying to start a “data backup” lifestyle, sometimes necessitating quite a bit of “ramp up” labor, but once you start, it’s easy, and gives me a great deal of peace of mind.

It’s a good idea to store copies of your backups offsite, too. Away from the building that houses your pc, cell phone, etc.

As an IT professional I find it inexcusable that there is no redundancy, backup, or disaster recovery plan. Someone’s head must roll! The rest of us are eating cake!

Your Info Was Very Helpfull.
Tom

This is the Information Technology 101! Oh yes, more than one head should definitely roll at Danger… I think the lesson of this is that the notion of “Cloud Computing” has only clouded thinking at the company. Actually I can’t even comprehend that they don’t have a way to recover back the data. Not only is backup essential, so is redundancy for hardware failure. RAID, server clusters, Imaging of software, Geographical redundancy of hardware…the options are quite large for protecting hardware, software and the underlying data. You actually have to try hard to fail in this category


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