Sidekick users share their horror stories

In the wake of a massive data loss, tales of woe are coming in from those whose devices have suffered a wicked case of amnesia.

Sidekick's LX, the newest model CBSInteractive

After suffering through a weeklong outage , T-Mobile Sidekick users got even worse news on Saturday, when the company advised them that any data not on their phone was likely gone forever due to a hardware failure.

Since then, Sidekick owners have been sharing their stories with me via e-mail. Here are some of those tales. Feel free to add your own in the comments section or e-mail me (ina dot fried at cnet dot com)

Bram Weiser, a sign language interpreter and computer specialist in New York, wrote on Monday:

Since the outage occurred on October 1st, I've not been able to receive (or, I presume, send) email to/from my Sidekick. (All along, though, I've had phone and text message capability.)

On Monday, October 5th, roughly 100 emails seemed to suddenly appear, leading me to think that the outage was FINALLY over, days(!) after it started. However, while I got notification of those new emails (e.g., italicized, boldface sender & subject line information), the actual bodies of those emails was painfully slow in arriving, if they were ever going to do so.

I THOUGHT I saw an advisory at tmobile.com not to try a "hard" reset as an attempt to retrieve data and/or "kickstart" (my word) my Sidekick, so I steered clear of that. So, thinking I saw it written that way (note: I later realized it didn't say "hard," but puzzlingly advised against ANY reset at all), I tried powering my Sidekick on and off, albeit to no avail, and then tried a "soft" reset in good faith by clicking the pinhole on the body of the device. In more "normal" circumstances (read: just about any other time in the years that I've owned a Sidekick and paid for service through T-Mobile), this would usually bring the device back to life with its information intact, because, as we now know, it would download it from the T-Mobile (read: Microsoft/Danger) servers after connecting to the network. Not this time, though...

After doing all of that, and letting my Sidekick power up again, I, as did many thousands of other users, suddenly lost saved emails, device settings in ALL applications, bookmarks for the Web Browser, my entire Address Book (188 or so entries, although three recent entries did reappear later), and all of the nearly 1,000 entries (past, present and future) for my Calendar. To date, all of these remain lost, though I CAN surf the Internet on my own, as well as define settings, add contacts to my Address Book, send/receive instant messages and, I presume, add Calendar entries on my own as well, though I've not tried much of that yet as I await the safe return of my data.

You're absolutely right when you ask how, for instance, a company like Microsoft/Danger (Microsoft!) didn't have sufficient backups of its servers in place, be they daily, weekly or whatever. This is beyond belief in this day and age!

People need to know about this and not give Microsoft a free pass. For us to be without important data that we paid for the privilege of entrusting to Microsoft/Danger for safekeeping only to have this happen 1-1/2 weeks ago, and continuing to this day, to potentially lose it all permanently(!), and (for now at least) to get a credit of only(!) one month's data service (honestly, is that REALLY satisfactory to anyone?!) boggles the mind.

Jeff McGaha, an electrical engineer in Indianapolis wrote that his wife has a Sidekick, was without access to the data network for four to five days, and has now lost all of her contacts:

She's dropping the Sidekick now, something she was on the fence about for a long time. T-Mobile is lucky we're staying with them. They can thank Google and Motorola for that. The Cliq is going to see bigger sales because of this sidekick outage. Long live Android.

Rachel, a veterinary technician in San Francisco who asked that her last name not be used, said that she lost all her data after her Sidekick's battery died.

Unfortunately I was unaware that my phone was at risk during this whole "data service disruption." There were a couple of text messages sent out last week from Tmobile apologizing for any inconvenience during this time period, but not once did it plainly state in a text to NOT POWER DOWN YOUR DEVICE, DO NOT ALLOW THE BATTERY TO RUN OUT and/or DO NOT REMOVE YOUR BATTERY. Instead it advised users to checkout their webpage for more information. At the time I was having no problems with my data and therefore disregarded the "sorry for the inconvenience" text and carried on using my phone as normal, and not bothering to check out the tmobile webpage.

Well, the next day my battery somehow died while I was at work (still unsure how that happened as it was charged the night before as it always has been) and after charging the phone at home my phone powered on easily enough, but without any of my personal information on it any longer. So I turned it off again, pulled out the battery for a few minutes, and then reassembled it all and tried again. Still no luck.....photos, address book (250+ contacts!), events, notes, etc.....all gone. It wasn't until this happened that I started to investigate the problem and found this in huge letters across the top of the main sidekick page (t-mobile.com/sidekick): "Sidekick customers, during this service disruption, please DO NOT remove your battery, reset your Sidekick, or allow it to lose power." Along with a note explaining they were trying to recover the data, etc.

Now it seems that all my information may be lost for good. It's infuriating. Especially when they could have been more precise in their text messages and let us users know what actions may be damaging to the livelihood of our stored data!!

I hope you continue to investigate this issue. And I am keeping my ears open for any legal action being taken against T-mobile/MS/Danger for this horrible oversight.

Kayla Haase, a 17-year-old high school student from Hopewell, N.J., wrote that she lost all her data in what she termed this "Sidekick disaster."

I had 411 contacts, now they are gone. I had 5 email accounts set up on the phone as well which are also gone, address book and all. The only thing that remained were the ringtones I purchased, thankfully. Other than that, I had to set up my emails accounts all over again, and have to start from zero to get all my contacts back, a list that had built up over two years. I am extremely upset not only due to the fact that I lost everything, but also because I pay 20 some dollars a month for THIS?! It's ridiculous. T Mobile is offering a month's free to all sidekick users however this does not make up for my zero contacts or the fact that when I scroll up to emails, it says "no accounts". My brother also has the sidekick. He lost all contacts, and although he doesn't use the emailing service, he still has had no reception for the past week. He can't make calls, text, go on the internet. Basically his phone is an empty shell.
 

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