Server snafu sidelines Sidekick

Loss of personal data calls cloud computing into question.

T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, said on Monday that its customers who have such data stored locally on their Sidekick devices will "almost certainly" have lost the data.

It also advised customers against resetting a Sidekick by removing the battery or letting the battery drain as this would still result in the loss of any personal content stored on the device made by Danger, a company Microsoft bought in 2008.

When operating normally, the Sidekick retrieves data from Microsoft servers after an event such as a phone reset.

"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," a Microsoft unit, the company said.

Microsoft said that the recovery process has been "incredibly complex" because it suffered a confluence of errors from a server failure that hurt its main and backup databases supporting Sidekick users.

The glitch comes as technology companies are increasingly looking to convince customers to use remote storage services and so called 'cloud computing' to back up their data.

Because Sidekick runs on a proprietary Danger operating system, Microsoft said that its other computing services were totally separate and not relying on Danger's technology.

T-Mobile USA said that while its workers were seeking a way to recover the information, "the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low."

The operator, which has been losing customers, said it is currently focused on looking for a way to restore data and is also considering additional measures for customers who have lost data.

A further statement late on Monday in the US said T-Mobile might be able to recover some data, and offered a $100 'customer appreciation card' to  customers experiencing "a significant and permanent loss of personal content".

All Sidekick phones were "temporarily out of stock" on T-Mobile USA's website on Tuesday.

- Reuters

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