October 11, 2009
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DANGER, meet Will Robinson

Apparently, when Microsoft wanted to update the storage servers for their Sidekick mobile phones, they forgot to make backups. And, when something went wrong in the switchover, every user’s data was lost.

Hundreds of thousands of users. Contacts, email, the works. Gone.

Or, to put it a different way: there goes a business for which Microsoft recently paid a half a billion dollars when they bought DANGER last year.

Keep good backups. Things go wrong. You need them.

Keep your own backups. Even professional hosting companies make stupid blunders.

It ought to be a crime. A hundred thousand people lose their contact lists. It’s probably not a disaster for anyone, though there’s always the possibility that some kid somewhere is going to call have to call Uncle Eddy for help next week but Uncle Eddy’s number isn’t Mom’s the cell phone anymore. But forget that: it’s also a few hundred thousand hours of rekeying contacts,. And time standing in line to get new cell phones. And time trying to find out why your phone lost all its contacts. So, whoever forgot to make those backups didn’t simply destroy a business that Microsoft bought for half a billion dollars, they also took about a couple of million dollars of labor and wasted it. Talk about public nuisance.

iPhone has the right architecture. Tethered to your computer. You have backups. You might also have backups in the cloud, which is nice. But if the cloud goes up in smoke, you still have your data. Your data is yours — or it should be.