Microsoft Recovers Sidekick Data, Improves Backup

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said today it has recovered most of the data of T-Mobile Sidekick users lost in a service disruption last week, and the software giant said it’s improving its backup processes and the stability of its Danger service to avoid similar mishaps in the future (see T-Mobile Data Loss a Setback for Clouds?).

While the outcome appears better than the companies first anticipated, it’s nonetheless a setback both for the companies involved and the emerging cloud storage market. T-Mobile has offered affected subscribers a free month of service and a $100 gift card, and at least two customers have already filed lawsuits over the incident.

“We are pleased to report that we have recovered most, if not all, customer data for those Sidekick customers whose data was affected by the recent outage,” said a letter to subscribers from Roz Ho, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Premium Mobile Experiences.

“We plan to begin restoring users’ personal data as soon as possible, starting with personal contacts, after we have validated the data and our restoration plan,” the letter said. “We will then continue to work around the clock to restore data to all affected users, including calendar, notes, tasks, photographs and high scores, as quickly as possible.”

Microsoft said it now believes the data loss affected only a minority of Sidekick users, and the letter said affected users should continue to visit the T-Mobile Sidekick forum for updates and directions.

Microsoft said the outage was caused “by a system failure that created data loss in the core database and the backup. We rebuilt the system component by component, recovering data along the way. This careful process has taken a significant amount of time, but was necessary to preserve the integrity of the data.”

The company said it is “taking immediate steps to help ensure this does not happen again. Specifically, we have made changes to improve the overall stability of the Sidekick service and initiated a more resilient backup process to ensure that the integrity of our database backups is maintained.”

Cloud storage has caught on with individuals and small businesses as an easy way to obtain better data protection and disaster recovery capability, but enterprises so far remain skeptical of such services, and a failure of basic data protection at a big-name company isn’t likely to help (see Why Cloud Storage Use Could Be Limited in Enterprises).

Analysts caution that users of such services should keep a second copy of their data elsewhere in case of service outages.

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Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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