Microsoft recovers Danger data

A round of applause is in order for Microsoft support folks for apparently recovering the data feared lost in a bizarre and as-yet-unexplained server failure that threatened an unknown number of users with loss of their data stored in The Cloud.

Despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth earlier this week when Microsoft subsidiary Danger lost a large amount of T-Mobile Sidekick’s customer data, along with the backups, it now appears that all is not lost. And they’re getting a hundred buck gift token for the suffering they’re had inflicted on them.

While users will be relieved that their information looks likely to be recovered, the episode poses several questions over the competence of Danger’s staff; the technical ability of contractor Hitachi Data Systems; and the inherent stupidity of the Cloud concept.

While we are unlikely ever to be told the full story, it looks very much as if Hitachi’s attempts to upgrade Danger’s Storage Area Network failed big time and that the data was put at risk not by hardware failure, but by good old-fashioned human error.

Industry watchers should look for evidence of this having happened coming in the form of a press release noting that Microsoft has hired another contractor to replace HDS.

We’ve all been in a situation where a straightforward system software upgrade involves a point at which we have to click “are you sure you wish to continue?” and then realize a few seconds after clicking ‘yes’ that perhaps the disk format now in progress wasn’t quite such a good idea after all as several Gigabytes of data haven’t quite been backed up, causing the immortal technical phrase ‘oh, bugger’ to be mouthed.

This has happened a couple of times to this reporter, I’m not afraid to admit, but the only time I couldn’t pretend it hadn’t happened was when I lost all the photographs taken by my ex-wife of her trip of a lifetime up the Amazon.

‘Ex-wife’, you’ll notice.

So the good news is it looks as if the data will be recovered. The bad news isn’t the loss of face for Microsoft – which has, after all seemingly pulled the data back from oblivion – or even HDS which is increasingly looking like the villain (or fumbling buffoon) of the piece, but to the whole daft concept of Cloud Computing itself.

Putting your faith in someone to look after your data for a minimal fee is crass stupidity. Or opportunism – if someone loses your ‘priceless’ data, simply reach for a lawyer and sue for millions. Your data is your responsibility, not some nebulous data center in the sky. You are responsible. Deal with it.

Any number of my friends will attest to the inherent stupidity of giving me a bottle of single malt whisky to look after for them.

Especially when they ask for it back.