John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Microsoft/Danger. Enough Said.

DANGERSIDEKICKIn the canon of Microsoft cock-ups, this may be the most humiliating: A server failure at the company’s Danger subsidiary has wiped out the personal data of a large number of T-Mobile Sidekick users and despite its best efforts, Microsoft cannot seem to get the information back. You see, the Sidekick stores contacts, calendar entries, and other key data primarily on Danger’s servers, not locally. That’s a fine strategy when the information backed up in multiple redundancy RAID configurations. When it’s not, Microsoft has a recipe for disaster, as this latest communication from T-Mobile to its customers illustrates:

“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.”

Microsoft (MSFT) hasn’t yet said what caused the failure, though some speculate it was a bungled storage area network upgrade performed without backup. Nor has the company said why it doesn’t have a copy of Sidekick user data (I’ve asked Microsoft for comment and will update here if and when one is offered).

There’s likely a reasonable explanation for the service disruption and server failure, but it’s hard to imagine one for unrecoverable data loss. Danger should have had a redundant backups of user data. Clearly, it didn’t, or if it did, they were abysmally unreliable. Either way, this is an ugly embarrassment for Danger and Microsoft and one that will probably cost them the trust of Sidekick users.

Sadly, Danger seems to have lived up to its name.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald