Microsoft has released a recovery tool for T-Mobile Sidekick owners who lost their personal data due to a catastrophic server failure earlier in October. The hardware in question reportedly belonged to Microsoft subsidiary Danger.
Starting Oct. 20, Sidekick users can sign onto the My T-Mobile Website to access a recovery tool that will restore contacts to their smartphone.
"This tool will enable you to view the contacts you had on your device as of Oct. 1," Microsoft wrote in an Oct. 20 message on the T-Mobile Forum. "With a few clicks and a confirmation, you will be able to restore these contacts to your Sidekick. If you have recreated some of the same contacts on your Sidekick since Oct. 1, you can choose to keep both sets of contacts, merge them or just keep the set of contacts now on your device."
Users will be able to edit any partial or complete duplicates after restoration. Microsoft said the next phases of the process will see photographs, notes, to-do lists, marketplace data and high scores ported back onto Sidekicks.
Messages left by Sidekick users on the T-Mobile forums throughout the morning, though, suggest that the contact restoration has not been an entirely smooth process.
"I just restored my contacts and I only have 64 contacts out of the 300 that I had before," wrote one T-Mobile Sidekick user, "and some of the names are blank without numbers."
"It worked for me; however, I noticed that I have a few names but no numbers," wrote another. "I don't know what's up with that. But at least this is a start. Hopefully they won't [magically] disappear like they did before."
"I got 34 of 62 contacts back, including some that are name only," commented a third. "I'm adding them one by one to my SIM card, because I don't trust that they are going to stay on my phone."
Microsoft had previously said in an Oct. 18 statement it would begin restoring personal data to users over the course of the week. The T-Mobile Website continues to list its Sidekick smartphones as "Temporarily Out of Stock," with sales likely being suspended until data service is fully restored. T-Mobile previously offered its Sidekick customers a $100 T-Mobile gift card and a month of free data service in recompense for the trouble, but users on the T-Mobile Forum seem of two minds as to whether those moves are sufficient for days' worth of data loss.
However, the situation seems more reparable than it did on Oct. 10, when T-Mobile issued a statement suggesting that user data had been permanently lost: "Based on Microsoft/Danger's latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device ... almost certainly has been lost as a result of server failure at Microsoft/Danger," it read.
Reuters previously reported that the Sidekick data had been stored on a proprietary system belonging to Danger, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2008. Originally started to provide software and services for mobile handsets, Danger suffered employee loss after the Microsoft acquisition that could have negatively affected the ability to manage that hardware.
The Sidekick situation could affect how Microsoft handles the rollout and maintenance of "Project Pink," its much-rumored branded smartphone predicted to roll out in early 2010. Microsoft itself has refused comment on the scuttlebutt, but sites such as 9to5Mac have alleged that a hybrid Microsoft and Danger team has been developing two smartphones with a form factor similar to that of the Sidekick.