Palm Pre users suffer cloud computing data loss

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Palm is investigating why its Palm Pre users are suffering data loss after resetting or replacing their WebOS phones and attempting to restore their personal data from the company's online cloud backup service.



Pre contacts, calendar items, memos and tasks are supposed to be backed up by automatic sync to Palm's cloud servers, enabling users to swap out faulty hardware without any need to back up their data to their own local computer. Palm refers to this online data backup as a Profile, but the system isn't working for an increasing number of users who report losing all or most of their information, according to a report by PreCentral.



The problem recalls the data catastrophe suffered by Microsoft's Danger group, which resulted in a widespread loss of personal information for T-Mobile Sidekick users. Microsoft was able to recover some of the data after Sun and Oracle experts stepped in to help recover the information, but the salvaged data took over a month to restore because the company didn't have adequate backups.



Earlier this year, Nokia also experienced a cloud services failure with Ovi, its mobile online service then operating in a public beta, after a server accident resulted in database problems. Despite having "regular backups," the company said "we were not able to set it right" and had to revert to an older database performed three weeks earlier at its previous hosting center.



"We?re sorry for the lost contacts in your phonebooks," Nokia's Ovi Contacts project manager Kristian Luoma posted to the company's blog. "We?re sorry that the profile pictures you love, and we love too are gone. Nothing can make this right, we know, but we?re hoping that you can forgive us and give another chance to give you good service."



Like Microsoft's Danger/Sidekick platform, Palm's new WebOS devices are not designed to sync with a desktop PC, so users can't back up their own phones without buying third party software to do so. Apple has suffered similar data loss issues in its rollout of MobileMe, its own cloud backup and push sync data service, but iPhone and iPod touch users are able to sync their devices to iTunes locally, enabling them to backup and restore their personal data independently of any problems that many occur in the cloud.



The Cloud or Bust



Despite the widespread troubles plaguing devices that are only designed to sync with the cloud (and which make it complicated, difficult or even impossible for users to perform their own backups locally), vendors are still working to push mobile devices tied to cloud-only sync services.



Last year, Android's Product Marketing Director Marc Vanlerberghe, wrote, "We envisioned a world where your various computers and phones would always be in sync without needing discipline, USB cables, Bluetooth, and synchronization software." The result was that Google's Android is designed to sync user data automatically to Google's cloud service in the background.



If Google were to lose any Android data on its end (Google's Gmail and other services have gone offline and/or lost users' messages several times before) Android phones would dutifully sync the loss back to the handset without the user even realizing it happened until the data was gone, with no way for the user to subsequently restore the data.



Microsoft recently released its own My Phone service for Windows Mobile to similarly back up users' entire phone to the company's cloud servers rather than to the their own PC. Most Windows Mobile phones are designed to sync with a local Exchange Server, which many of Microsoft's remaining users might prefer over the company's own cloud service, given its track record with Danger.



Unlike the iPhone 3GS, the Verizon/Motorola Droid doesn't support the default minimum security policy required by Exchange Server, resulting in many companies refusing to support Android phone sync with their corporate email systems.



With every major phone vendor having experienced serious and significant cloud service failures, more companies might begin recognizing that support for local data sync and backup through a user application like iTunes is not just a good idea, but an essential feature for consumers increasingly wary of trusting their information to a central server on the cloud, particularly services that offer to maintain users' data for free, and which subsequently can't be expected to care that much about restoring lost information once it occurs.







Daniel Eran Dilger is the author of "Snow Leopard Server (Developer Reference)," a new book from Wiley available now.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    This isn't good. "Cloud Computing" is supposed to be the future of computers and smart mobiles. If they can't get this reliable, people aren't going to trust the system.



    To think that Google's Chrome OS will have ALL your content stored in the Cloud is a little disconcerting right now...
  • Reply 2 of 55
    I don't see how anything could wrong with me storing all my personal and confidential data on a cloud owned by a for-profit corp. Nope...none at all.
  • Reply 3 of 55
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPedro View Post


    This isn't good. "Cloud Computing" is supposed to be the future of computers and smart mobiles. If they can't get this reliable, people aren't going to trust the system.



    To think that Google's Chrome OS will have ALL your content stored in the Cloud is a little disconcerting right now...



    Yeah - if they can't get it right at the very beginning, how will they ever get it right later?!?
  • Reply 4 of 55
    This is why Palm wanted to sync with iTunes!



    No, but seriously, I really like my Pre. It's not as fast or refined as the iPhone, but I really didn't want to switch to AT&T. Hopefully I won't ever have to deal with the backup/restore issue... \
  • Reply 5 of 55
    More proof that Palm is a godawful mess. From one fumble to another.
  • Reply 6 of 55
    kp*kp* Posts: 13member
    I don't see how anybody thinks cloud-only computing is a good idea. I love syncing through the cloud with my iPhone and MobileMe, but when something goes wrong on the cloud, I still have two or more local copies I can refer to, and if those got destroyed by the corrupted data from the cloud, I have backups of my local system because I'm a responsible computer user.



    The idea that the only copy of your data is on somebody else's servers, in a format of their chosing, that you can only reach when you have internet access, is scary as hell. It might be useful for some things -- if Facebook crashed and burned and disappeared from existence overnight, I wouldn't cry. But we're talking about email, phone numbers, addresses, calendars, identification and banking data, application data -- the things that have become essential to our productivity and survival as a technological civilization. What person, that determines the course of a major company like Microsoft or Google, thinks that keeping everyone's data only on the cloud is a safe idea, to the point where they make it impossible or impractical for a person to have a local backup?
  • Reply 7 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    More proof that Palm is a godawful mess. From one fumble to another.



    It's not just Palm. Apple had issues when they launched MobileMe, Microsoft had it recently. GMail was offline and had a scare just a few weeks ago.



    They need to get this right or nobody's gonna trust having their info stored in the Cloud and not locally. As a photographer, there's no way I'd trust my life's work to be somewhere in the ether. I keep a copy on my Mac, a copy on my Time Capsule and a copy in on an HDD stored in a safety deposit box at my bank.
  • Reply 8 of 55
    davidtdavidt Posts: 112member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPedro View Post


    This isn't good. "Cloud Computing" is supposed to be the future of computers and smart mobiles. If they can't get this reliable, people aren't going to trust the system.



    which is a good thing, or? people shouldn't trust any "system". healthy distrust is a very good thing
  • Reply 9 of 55
    I had a recent experience where a software install hosed my address book. I was able to quickly restore from the "cloud" (google address book) but also had a local backup as well. The cloud was quicker in this instance but having one or many local backups is always a smart way to go.



    For me, the cloud as a backup to my local backup won't be changing anytime soon.
  • Reply 10 of 55
    When a plane crashes there are news stories around the world. But every single day many more people are killed on the roads. They just don't make the headlines.



    Cloud computing failures can be similarly high profile events. However, the reality is that most people do not back up local data and many more people have lost documents or contacts because of a HDD failure or their phone died than have lost data due to cloud computing failures.



    The more duplication of data across more locations (local + remote) the less likely you are suffer data loss; however for the average consumer, just moving to the cloud would put them in a better position than they are now.
  • Reply 11 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Orlando View Post


    When a plane crashes there are news stories around the world. But every single day many more people are killed on the roads. They just don't make the headlines.



    Cloud computing failures can be similarly high profile events. However, the reality is that most people do not back up local data and many more people have lost documents or contacts because of a HDD failure or their phone died than have lost data due to cloud computing failures.



    The more duplication of data across more locations (local + remote) the less likely you are suffer data loss; however for the average consumer, just moving to the cloud would put them in a better position than they are now.



    True, as much as I distrust all those "cloud computing" companies, the simple fact is Apple could release a version of iTunes with a bug that improperly backs up your iphone without you knowing it's screwed up until you have to go and restore. Unless you have your iphone backup backed up (e.g. time machine) using a system that stores generational copies, you'd be just as hosed as all those other folks (and hosed up until the point you upgraded iTunes even with a backup). So this really isn't an issue that is unique to cloud computing, its an issue as old as computing itself, how to do proper backups (and more importantly, verify backups, which almost nobody does).
  • Reply 12 of 55
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,148member
    They can stick their cloud back up their @sses. I'll stick to local backups.
  • Reply 13 of 55
    tofinotofino Posts: 697member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPedro View Post


    It's not just Palm. Apple had issues when they launched MobileMe, Microsoft had it recently. GMail was offline and had a scare just a few weeks ago.



    They need to get this right or nobody's gonna trust having their info stored in the Cloud and not locally. As a photographer, there's no way I'd trust my life's work to be somewhere in the ether. I keep a copy on my Mac, a copy on my Time Capsule and a copy in on an HDD stored in a safety deposit box at my bank.



    i'm curious if you have always done the right thing (backup, backup, backup!) or if you had to learn your lesson the hard way... which seems to be how most people finally arrive at a usable backup strategy....



    unfortunately it seems that most people don't think about the consequences of losing data - be it on their computer or their phone - unless they had to deal with the agony of trying to rebuild their 'lives'.
  • Reply 14 of 55
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPedro View Post


    It's not just Palm. Apple had issues when they launched MobileMe, ...



    The difference with the way Apple does it though is that your data is just synced *through* the cloud, and sometimes backed up to the cloud, but you also have multiple local copies, a local backup, and sometimes a second cloud backup as well.
  • Reply 15 of 55
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    It is always good to have info backed-up locally and on the cloud. I like Apple and RIM's approach. All of my RIM data is stored on a blackberry server in our data center and backed-up to tape nightly.
  • Reply 16 of 55
    brucepbrucep Posts: 2,823member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    More proof that Palm is a godawful mess. From one fumble to another.



    the cracked screens still crack me up



    happy thankgiving dude
  • Reply 17 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by brucep View Post


    the cracked screens still crack me up



    happy thankgiving dude



    Thanks, bruce.



    Even though I'm in Canada and we already had ours, I'll celebrate in spirit with our American friends.



  • Reply 18 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post


    They can stick their cloud back up their @sses. I'll stick to local backups.





    A-fscking-MEN to that.



    My contact information is mine, not Microsoft's, not Apple's, not Google's, not Pre's, not AT&T's, not Verison or Nokia or the NSA, or hackers or anyone else, especially not some smart geek who will download the entire database every chance they get and sell it to my competition.



    When the iPhone came out, I bet the snoops and hackers just leaped with joy as a phone has less protection than a computer, legally and security speaking. And people are just going to put all their data on it like sheep to the slaughterhouse.



    What's funny is they are setting the stage that if your not "in the cloud" and revealing everything about yourself, you must be a terrorist or a secret baby eater or something.



    Screw the cloud. Don't need it or want it.
  • Reply 19 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post


    Screw the cloud. Don't need it or want it.



    As a backup medium it's still better than having nothing at all. It's another redundancy with the added benefit (in MobileMe's case) of allowing the user to work on their files (or whatever they have on the Cloud) from anywhere in tne world, across a range of devices.



    For instance, I work solely off the Cloud, using my iDisk. I automatically have a local backup on my Mac, but my documents folder is actually a shortcut to my iDisk. Even if Apple, by some strange twist of fate, lost all my info on the Cloud, I'll still have it locally, automatically.



    The way I use it at least, there is no downside to the Cloud except for a possible security issue, but even if my most personal files on the Cloud were somehow hacked or violated, there would be no real personal risk to me, unless someone were out to publish my scholarly papers before I did.
  • Reply 20 of 55
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    i use Symantec Netbackup and i'm always getting emails how if you have such and such a configuration then your backups may be failing even though it tells you they were successful. i'm even in the process of writing SQL code to verify the integrity of our backups. latest email came in today how very 6.5.5 which is going to be released December 2nd will skip backing up some databases under certain conditions.



    i was even hit by a bug in netbackup where it deletes records of your backups from it's internal database.



    the most reliable backup system i've seen is backing up to an external hard drive or another computer
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