Teens Wept: Sidekick Phones Lose Data, Contacts

T-Mobile's popular phone was the victim of a remote server #Fail...

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What will the thumbs of millions do?

T-Mobile's Sidekick phones have been the victim of a digital tragedy: A remote server failure which lead to the deletion of many contacts and phone numbers held. From the AP:

The incident is a huge blow to the reputation of the Sidekick and is a reminder of the dangers of trusting a single provider to safeguard information.

The phones are made by a Microsoft Corp. subsidiary and sold by T-Mobile USA, which say many Sidekick owners' information is "almost certainly" gone. T-Mobile gave customers a $20 refund to cover the cost of one month of data usage on the phone. It also will give certain customers who experienced a "significant and permanent" loss of personal data a $100 customer appreciation card to be used toward T-Mobile products and services, or their phone bill. T-Mobile said it will contact those customers in the next 14 days.

Microsoft spokeswoman Debbie Anderson said Monday that there was a still a chance some of the lost user data could be restored from a backup system. Engineers were working at it in the Microsoft data center where the failure occurred, she said.

The phones were troubled by a data outage a week ago. Service was intermittent last week, and then users started reporting that their Sidekicks were wiped of all personal information.

"This has been a terrible experience," said Mary Boyle, of Silver Spring, Maryland. She lost more than 500 contacts, 100 pictures, a to-do list and dozens of Web site passwords. She also spent about eight hours on the phone with T-Mobile's technical support last week, trying to deal with the outage, she said.

On Saturday, T-Mobile and Microsoft warned customers not to restart their phones, remove the batteries or let the phones run down their batteries. Boyle said she did none of those things, yet her data disappeared anyway. She switched to a BlackBerry from Verizon Wireless on Monday, and said she had no intention of paying T-Mobile for quitting her contract early.

"As far as I'm concerned, they very much broke their contract with me before I broke theirs," she said.