Lessons from Microsoft/Danger and T-Mobile’s Sidekick Fiasco

Lessons from Microsoft/Danger and T-Mobile’s Sidekick Fiasco

You may have already heard about the colossal failure of Microsoft and Danger’s “cloud” system, resulting in the loss of roughly 800,000 T-Mobile users’ cell phone data. The unique method T-mobile employed to manage their customers data experienced a catastrophic failure on October 5th and while questions still loom as to how this could have occurred the take home lesson for all computer users is plain as day: always backup your data properly.

Sidekick data was not stored long term on the phone itself, unlike other cell phone models. Instead, data was uploaded to Microsoft/Danger‘s cloud: a cluster of many computers sharing the load of data storage and computing power. Systems like this aren’t all that unusual, if you use gmail or flickr you’ve already got data stored in a cloud. When one computer in the cloud fails, usually there is minimal to no data loss. If many computers fail, or if the software connecting the computers has a problem, all the data could be lost forever.

Thankfully Microsoft had some backups of the Sidekick data and finally began restoring it to customer phones on October 20th, fifteen days after the initial loss of data. In the interim, literally thousands of blog posts, news articles and RSS feeds flooded the internet with bad press about T-Mobile and Microsoft. The criticism was completely justified as well, due to early concerns within Microsoft that the backup data had somehow been damaged or lost in the same incident that took down the cloud. The idea that a company with the kind of resources and expertise as Microsoft could have made such a rookie mistake of creating backups that were relying on the same resources or software as the cloud is unthinkable to tech pros.

The cost of this catastrophe is more than just data loss and bad press, the financial toll is still growing. Between users terminating contracts early (without the customary fee), $100 T-Mobile gift cards being offered to users whose data was lost, and pulling Sidekicks from shelves and online stores, the final cost could be somewhere in the millions.

Data recovery is a complicated and expensive process, and it’s not always successful. To keep your information safe, whether it’s tax records or photos of your children, you should always keep a secure backup. It’s a simple, inexpensive, and reliable step that can help prevent multi-million dollar disasters and private heartbreaks, but it must be done properly. Geek Choice techs are trained professionals who can help make sure that your backup solution is safe, even if your system fails. If you haven’t already, take the time to call about backing up your data today.

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