T-Mobile has had great sales success with their Sidekick brand of devices, a handheld computer and cell phone and camera and video player and e-mail device and instant messaging system. Yesterday the online servers that store all the contact names, phone numbers, and more had a failure and apparently no useable backups are available. The T-Mobile web site has a notice this morning that says (in part):
Dear valued T-Mobile Sidekick customers:The full announcement goes on for several more paragraphs. You can read the full announcement at this time at http://www.sidekick.com/ although I suspect it will change before long.
T-Mobile and the Sidekick data services provider, Danger, a subsidiary of Microsoft, are reaching out to express our apologies regarding the recent Sidekick data service disruption. We appreciate your patience as Microsoft/Danger continues to work on maintaining platform stability, and restoring all services for our Sidekick customers.
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 the result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger."
Users are advised to not turn off their phones, reset them, or let the batteries die in them for fear of losing what data remains on the devices. Microsoft/Danger has stated that they cannot recover the data but are still trying.
Let this serve as an example for all of us. Not only do we need to back up data stored on our own computers, but we also need to keep backups of data stored elsewhere on the Internet. Yes, most corporations have great backup systems but how do we know that those backups will work when needed? We don't.
Data that you upload to web sites, to Google Docs, to RootsWeb, to photo sharing sites, or to other online services is stored at the mercy of the owners of those sites. Technical malfunctions will happen. Companies sometimes go bankrupt or are bought out by other corporations, often by companies that have a different set of priorities. Or, as appears to be the case with the T-Mobile Sidekick and Microsoft/Danger, somebody might screw up.
Whatever the reasons, you must always assume that nobody cares as much about your information as you do. Yes, those companies should back up your information but don't count on that. Make your own backup copies as well.