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Unanswered questions loom large in Sidekick fiasco

Microsoft and Danger remain largely silent as to both what led to a massive data loss as well as what it plans to do to try to make things right, not to mention what this will all mean for the future of the device.

So, just what the heck happened?

That's one of many questions that Sidekick owners and the broader tech community are asking after one of the largest data failures in recent memory.

Two days after warning customers that their contacts, calendar, and other information may be gone, Microsoft and T-Mobile spent most of Monday in silent mode as they continued to work to try to recover the data from thousands of Sidekick owners.


Microsoft has said that the hardware failure that caused the problem took out both the primary and backup copies of the database that contained Sidekick users' information. But the question remains, why wasn't there a true independent backup of the data?

T-Mobile has said that it is exploring what to do to try to compensate customers who have lost their data, but as of 4:30 p.m. PDT on Monday had not offered a promised update on where things stood.

For those who don't have their data, there was little to do but vent on various forums and hope that the data recovery efforts bear fruit. (There may be some hope on that front, as some users did report some data re-appearing on their devices on Monday).

Still, those who do have some or all of their information on their device, might want to back that up pronto. Enthusiast site and T-Mobile itself have offered up a few ways to back up contact information, in particular.

And, because it bears repeating, T-Mobile is warning those who do have information on their device not to reset their Sidekick, take out the battery, or let the device fully run out of power.

For the time being, T-Mobile has halted sales of the Sidekick but the long-term future for the current product line, as well as its planned successor (code-named Pink) remain unclear.

Justine Castro, a student at San Francisco's Academy of Art school, had been having problems with her Sidekick, but hadn't heard about the massive outage or data loss issues. She said she had almost reset her device a couple times--a move that probably would have caused her data to disappear. Ina Fried/CNET

What is clear is that both T-Mobile and Microsoft are going to have some serious work to do to regain customers' trust.

Despite all the buzz in technology circles, some Sidekick users weren't even aware of the extent of the issue. Justine Castro, a student at San Francisco's Academy of Art, was tapping away on her gadget when I approached her Monday morning.

Castro said that she was having problems for the last week and had thought about resetting the device but thankfully had yet to do so. Castro said her T-Mobile contract is up and she was already thinking about getting a new phone as soon as she gets the money.

"I don't know what I'd do if all my data got erased," said Castro, who is on her second Sidekick after getting her first one about three years ago.