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Microsoft Communications The Internet

Hotmail Loses Customer Files 388

Rick Zeman writes "News.com is reporting that Microsoft's Hotmail service has lost customers' files 'due to 'system events.' The particular user cited, of course, has no recourse because of the broad disclaimers companies such as Microsoft hide behind; however, you are getting what you pay for. The scariest part of the article, however, is when a spokesman for iBackup, an Internet-based backup company, disclaims,'We do not provide a 100 percent guarantee that the backup will take place' of customers' data being stored with them for a fee."
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Hotmail Loses Customer Files

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  • Oh no! (Score:4, Funny)

    by blowdart ( 31458 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:10AM (#9333457) Homepage
    I lost all those megabytes of increase my penis size email!
    • Re:Oh no! (Score:4, Funny)

      by Nobody You Know ( 750014 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:12AM (#9333468)
      And whatever is that poor Nigerian businessman going to do now that I've lost his e-mail address?
      • Re:Oh no! (Score:5, Funny)

        by D-Cypell ( 446534 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:31AM (#9333592)
        Hahahaha... excellent!! I had the foresight not to use a hotmail address to conduct my business dealings, now those Nigerian millions are all mine!!!

        Fancy conducting multi-million business deals using hotmail! Im glad im not as big a fool as you!
    • Re:Oh no! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BabyDave ( 575083 )

      GET BIGGER, LONGER LASTING ... e-mail storage.

      Seriously though, if you RTFA, it's just one customer in this case, although the summary implies it was more - presumably because the article states that similar incidents have occurred in the past..

      • Re:Oh no! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gmack ( 197796 ) <[gmack] [at] [innerfire.net]> on Friday June 04, 2004 @12:15PM (#9335728) Homepage Journal
        When is the last time a system problem like this affected just one user?

        Let me fill you in on something.. Tech support will tell you that you are the only person facing a certain problem even if all of their other customers are having the same problem. They will do that as long as they are sure you can't prove otherwise.

        I've my ISP say that even though my whole block was down. I've had a cell phone provider (Rogers') say that even though they sold me a phone with a very high return rate. As well as countless other examples.

        It's marketing.. they want to make the problem seem smaller thatn it is.

    • Re:Oh no! (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 04, 2004 @12:38PM (#9335975)
      Laugh all you want, but I put my money where my mouth was, and tried every penis extender I got spam for, and now it's the size of a louisville slugger!

      But- I can no longer wear pants, and every time I get excited...I pass out.

      (Is there such a thing as anti-viagra?)
  • by jjohn ( 2991 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:11AM (#9333462) Homepage Journal

    Events happen.

    I didn't want all that spam that had accumulated in my hotmail account anyway.

  • by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:11AM (#9333463) Journal
    No matter how big, or how small, there's only one way to make sure your data is safe ....

    Back it up yourself.

    Like everything else - if you want it done right, do it yourself!

    Seriously, if you're using a service such as Yahoo! or Hotmail for important matters (whether they be family, personal, or business), make sure you make a copy of it somewhere that's in your control .......
    • by TeraCo ( 410407 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:21AM (#9333525) Homepage
      I don't see how that will guarantee it.. accidents still happen. Tape drives fail. Hard disks get dropped into tubs of jelly, etc.

      The only way to truely secure your data is to hire a team of tibetan monks to each remember 1/5th of it. THen they can sing it back to you.
      If you can't bear the idea of something being lost, it's YOUR JOB to do what's necessary to save it.

      Alexandria Felton logged on to her Hotmail account last month and was shocked to find that all of her saved files were gone.
      At stake was years' worth of personal and business correspondence, photos and the itinerary for a recently purchased trip...

      Alexandria is a moron. It's a *free* service, you get what you pay for. No backup medium is 100% reliable, but most reasonable people would consider
      • by ThePilgrim ( 456341 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:57AM (#9333733) Homepage
        The problem is that for most people Hotmail is NOT a stupid place to keep important info.

        Its backed by Microsoft so oviously its secure.

        Just remember that most people who use Hotmail are not Geeks and they do beleave the hype.
        • People like 'things that work' and are disintered in disclaimers, security, back-ups and other 'technical stuff.' So as long as things are pretty and seem to do what people want, they're happy. If something happens that people are warned about, they are angry and incredulous. Such is life in technology. If you ever want to hide sensitive information but widely desciminate it, print it in a manual or a disclaimer.
      • poor != moron (Score:5, Insightful)

        by br3itain ( 748352 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:13AM (#9333845)
        A little wake-up call to the self-satisfied middle class types out there who can't fathom not owning a computer - there are a *lot* of people who can't afford their own PC, let alone subscribe to an ISP. They depend on free access in public libraries for their email (and free internet email accounts like Hotmail). It's pretty hard to back up your emails in that case (many libraries ban the use of floppy disks outright).

        Yes, you get what you pay for, but when something like this happens it doesn't necessarily mean the individual is a moron, it means she can't afford anything else.

        • Re:poor != moron (Score:5, Interesting)

          by kotj.mf ( 645325 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:34AM (#9334007)
          Too true. The administration at the large public library where I used to work seemed to view the underpriveledged types who would conduct most of their computing on our Wyse terminals more as unwelcome burdens than as "real" patrons.

          These are people who needed to do simple stuff like type out a resume, write a two page book report for school, or whatever. I spent the better part of a year trying to persuade IS to put OpenOffice on a couple of unused PCs we had sitting around, and their response was, essentially, "Microsoft rulez! OOo droolz!"

          "So are we going to put MS Office on the PCs for the public instead?"

          "No, we can't afford the licenses."

          I actually took my case all the way up to administration, and they as much as told me "We're a library, not a community center. They're lucky we don't block Hotmail."

          Shit, they even locked the floppy drives on the few actual PCs (rather than Winterms) we had available for the public, to keep people from saving anything.

          All this from one of the largest, and supposedly best, public library systems in the country.

          I ended up writing a little PHP script that'll spit out either a preformatted resume or a simple letter-type html page and let you print them out from a browser. Took me an hour, and that was mostly getting the tables right for the resumes. The patrons, my immediate boss, and all of my co-workers were thrilled, but all I got from administration was a warning that I shouldn't have developed the app on company time.


          Hotmail, Yahoo, et al provide valuable services to people who couldn't otherwise get them.

          Yeah, the corporations behind the services are only doing it to make a buck.

          Yeah, they're free, and you get what you pay for.

          Yeah, anybody who should know better, and could afford better, who does *anything* critical with Hotmail is an idiot.

          But for some people, something is better than nothing.
          • Re:poor != moron (Score:3, Interesting)

            That's great that you helped out like that, and really, really sad about the administrations attitude. Who do you they think uses the computers? Maybe kids who are doing papers or something... I don't know.

            A computer is increasingly a requirement if you want to find a job or communicate at a professional level. And in a lot of ways, libraries are community centers - you can often take free classes, get tax advice, there are entertaining things for kids, etc.

            Running a resource hungry MS operating system j
            • Re:poor != moron (Score:3, Insightful)

              by kotj.mf ( 645325 )
              I've kinda got a feeling that the administration's attitude was, at least somewhat, a product of some of the more recalcitrant desk staff.

              You know how there's always some old codger who still bitches about getting rid of the card catalog ten years ago? Well those people also get *jobs* at the library. And since they tend to have worked there for awhile, they're in a better position to influence policy.

              And *they* are the ones who get scared/annoyed/confused when they have to show somebody how to sign up fo
        • Re:poor != moron (Score:5, Insightful)

          by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:42AM (#9334085) Journal
          Bah, sophistry.

          If reliability was an issue, even FREE services can be used to provide a level of redundancy higher than burned media.

          Yahoo Mail
          heck, I think even Marijuana.com offers a free webmail account.

          Poor people aren't morons, but they may have to actually deal with their situation instead of demanding that the world do so for them.

          When I *was* poor and had to rely on the bus or a crappy unreliable car (for example) I simply had to cope with the potential unreliability of my ride by having backup plans. It was a simple fact of my lack of resources, and a good motivator for me to change my condition.
        • Backups (Score:3, Informative)

          by phorm ( 591458 )
          Many internet cafe's will - for a small fee - burn you a CD of your data. Of course, for hotmail you would have to paste your emails into word, notepad, whatever - but many of the less-computer-literate type have mastered the copy+paste functions.

          It's a pain in the butt, but for some better than losing any "important" data.
    • Back it up yourself.

      Funny, I often use my Yahoo! Mail account as a backup resource for small pieces of non-sensitive information. You'd think Microsoft would be maintaining periodic backups of Hotmail data, but what the hey.
      • You'd think Microsoft would be maintaining periodic backups of Hotmail data, but what the hey.
        They probably are. But accidents still happen. Nobody can guarantee 100% reliability with any sort of backup setup. You might be able to get 99.9% reliability, and adding backup backups will get you more nines, but you'll never get 100%. And I don't see Hotmail as bringing in enough money to justify enough redundant backups to get lots and lots of nines in there.
  • by FrivolousPig ( 602133 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:11AM (#9333465)
    = blue screen of death
  • There are plenty of other places people could go to for free email, or they could use their very own ISP for email service. But for some bizzare reason people just want to have a @hotmail.com email address. I dunno, maybe it gives people a fuzzy feeling having an @hotmail.com account rather than @yourisp.com...
    • not a good idea. I switched isps 2 times this year alone, so an independent email service can give you a persistend mail address. I kept my first ever mail address all the time (gmx.com) and although my adress is on every single spam list in the world, old friends often contact me through that adress, so I cant switch!
      • by Anonymous Coward
        You can have an email address and servers which are totally independent of your ISP if you wish. Just pay around $30 a year to almost any domain hosting company for their basic package and you'll get email, web and ftp services, with your own domain name, for as long as you keep the domain renewed and the fees paid. You can change ISPs and even hosting companies all you like, and your domain (and therefore your email address) will always remain the same.

        No need to use those silly webmail systems either.
      • Exactly what I do as well.

        I have a free email account through Juno, that I have had for 8 years. One email account with my dialup access(backup). My dial-up and Juno accounts are what I use for all general access email. I get 20-30 spam messages a day. It's even worse since I forward the dial-up to the juno account.

        I have a hidden cable account. This is only used to- from trusted parties. No spam, none. Like I said it's secret.

        Then there is work, occasional spam, but mozila mail handles it quite we
    • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:27AM (#9333561) Homepage Journal
      With the way people move from their ISP from service to service, its nice to have a consistent email address as you float around.

      True, you could just get your own domain and be done with it, but for the average Joe that may not fully comprehend the options, its not worth the expense nor the extra troubles..
      • try bigfoot www.bigfoot.com [bigfoot.com]

        BAsic it redirects your emails to a email address of choice. What I do is give that one out to people I want to stay in contact with and a another address when joining something. That way I can switch ISP's in the future but not lose contacts.

        The only problem with the free service is it does put a limit on the maximum number of emails, but so far I have not hit the limit.

      • With the way people move from their ISP from service to service, its nice to have a consistent email address as you float around.

        But why use Hotmail? There are other, better free mail services out there.

        Fastmail.FM [fastmail.fm] is a good one--pretty reliable, and it even has free IMAP access. You have to provide your own SMTP server tho, if you don't want to pay Fastmail.FM for one--but that's ok...I don't know of an ISP that doesn't provide for one, anyway.

        Its web-based interface is also pretty sweet--it's very
    • I have used my as per /. info yahoo account for years. Before I even had an isp.

      So far yahoo has outlasted 2 (3?)isps, 3 jobs, 2 changes in state of residence and I don't keep anything important there
  • Vs. Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MackTK ( 752022 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:12AM (#9333471)
    It will be interesting to see the final EULA for gmail and their stance on loss of data.
    • by KiwiSurfer ( 309836 ) <james@pole[ ]t.nz ['.ne' in gap]> on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:15AM (#9333486)
      It would also be interesting to look at the paid email providers too. Does the ISPs that offer IMAP hosting do backups of their customer's emails? I quite like the idea of IMAP, but this issue raises an interesting question. With POP3 email, your emails are stored on your own computer, so you can easily backup email. How easy is it to backup and restore IMAP email boxes?
      • by reidbold ( 55120 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:32AM (#9333594)
        Pretty easy.

        Thunderbird->Tools->Offline & Disk Space->Make the messages in my Inbox available when I am working offline (check).

        Then feel free to back up the local files as you please.

        Bonus points for saying 'raises an interesting question' rather than 'begs the question'.
      • Well, I've tried IMAP in a few email clients: Mac OS X Mail, Entourage, PowerMail, Thunderbird. All of them seemed to cache the email on a local drive. I'm not sure how much this would help you, though, as when you connect to an empty server they likely flush out that cache with varying degrees of thoroughness.

  • Good riddance! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:13AM (#9333474) Journal
    I used to have "dsg@hotmail.com" - I was one of the first users. The spam was phenomenal. I haven't looked back since dumping that one.
  • Honesty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FTL ( 112112 ) * <slashdot@neil.fraser.n a m e> on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:13AM (#9333475) Homepage
    "The scariest part of the article, however, is when a spokesman for iBackup, an Internet-based backup company, disclaims,'We do not provide a 100 percent guarantee that the backup will take place' of customers' data being stored with them for a fee."

    Scary? No, that's plain honesty. Which should be respected.

    Do you honestly expect your backup provider to cover you in the event of a gamma ray burst in the stellar neighbourhood which vapourizes half the planet within 5 minutes? An extreme example to be sure, but 100% coverage is not realistic, nor is it financially desirable.

    I have no respect for any company whose sales staff claim 100% uptime or 100% reliable coverage.

    • Re:Honesty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gray code ( 323372 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:18AM (#9333506)
      no, it's not reasonable to demand that they offer 100% coverage, however, if this is a service that costs real money, then if they dick something up, it is completely reasonable to expect reasonable compensation.
    • Re:Honesty (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gregmac ( 629064 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:23AM (#9333539) Homepage
      Do you honestly expect your backup provider to cover you in the event of a gamma ray burst in the stellar neighbourhood which vapourizes half the planet within 5 minutes? An extreme example to be sure, but 100% coverage is not realistic, nor is it financially desirable.

      Interesting example .. :)

      The first thing I thought of was what happens when some idiot at the client company shuts off the backup program on their side? The backup company can't do anything about it - besides maybe notice the backup didn't take place and call them - even then, say it happens on a Friday.. they're likely not going to be backed up all weekend. Office burns down, and there's an old backup.. the backup company can't be held responsible for that.
    • That falls under Acts of God.

      But that same gamma ray burst, with only one ray hitting 1 disk drive, hitting the 1 sector that contains your data "root". Should NEVER make you lose anything. This is just normal processing.

      That is why raid and tape backups are around. Exspecially since your are paying a fee to them monthly to keep your data safe.
    • Re:Honesty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by That's Unpossible! ( 722232 ) * on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:27AM (#9333560)
      I have no respect for any company whose sales staff claim 100% uptime or 100% reliable coverage.

      Ummm... the ends of those sentence fragments are usually "... or your money back."

      In other words, they aren't promising 100%, just an attempt at 100% with you being compensated if it's less than that. Obviously they have a financial incentive to keep it at 100%.
    • Re:Honesty (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MmmmJoel ( 26625 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:52AM (#9333700) Homepage

      "The scariest part of the article, however, is when a spokesman for iBackup, an Internet-based backup company, disclaims,'We do not provide a 100 percent guarantee that the backup will take place' of customers' data being stored with them for a fee."

      Scary? No, that's plain honesty. Which should be respected.

      Respected? No way! If it said "we can't provide a 100% guarantee that we can recover the data that we make two different off-site backups for," then I can understand. Or even, "we can only guarantee that 95% of your nighty backups will be successful" is OK.

      But the quote says they won't even guarantee it gets backed up at all! They don't even need to attempt it. It's like providing an email service and not guaranteeing that your SMTP server isn't pointing to /dev/null.
    • Re:Honesty (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rick Zeman ( 15628 )
      The scariest part of the article, however, is when a spokesman for iBackup, an Internet-based backup company, disclaims,'We do not provide a 100 percent guarantee that the backup will take place' of customers' data being stored with them for a fee."

      Scary? No, that's plain honesty. Which should be respected.

      You think? I'm the poster of the article and those were my exact words (though they took out my GMail question....). I think that your example is extreme: you're looking at there's no 100% guarantee
      • Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Otto ( 17870 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:13AM (#9334384) Homepage Journal
        My point is that sentence lets them off the hook for ever backing up your data, much less being ever to restore it.

        Nothing personal, but this is total fucking nonsense.

        It's a throw away line by one guy at the company. It's not a contract or definitive statement of policy. It's just one guy being honest. They *can't* provide 100% guaranteed reliability. NOBODY can provide 100% guaranteed reliability. You cannot predict the future.

        They may do everything in their power to ensure that your data is available, but they cannot guarantee that it always will be every time no matter what. That's impossible. And that's all the guy is really stating here. If you somehow read it as "well, it's impossible, so we don't even try" then you're reading a hell of a lot more into it than is actually there.
    • Re:Honesty (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bfg9000 ( 726447 )
      The big companies don't give a damn and we're being trained to pay more for less service, or at best, greater convenience with lesser quality. Aren't backups like insurance? If you don't have a guaranteed backup what's the point? How am I supposed to sleep at night knowing I MIGHT have my files backed up? This reminds me of Ceridian, [ceridian.ca] who cold called our office offering to do our payroll for us. They would cut the cheques and pay the government the taxes and send us a report, all for pennies per employee. Th
  • ibackup (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grandmofftarkin ( 49366 ) * <3b16-ihd3@xemaps.com> on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:13AM (#9333476)
    Well I use ibackup and have been pretty happy with it so far. The price is good and they let you run rsync to backup your data which is not only fast but makes it easy to script automated backups from Linux.

    I'm not too worried by the comment from the ibackup spokesperson. I think they have to say this as there is always a chance of some dataloss.
    Anyway, ibackup is not the only backup I do.
  • by DangerSteel ( 749051 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:14AM (#9333482)
    like my e-mail address to every known spammer in the universe. Hell, I'm getting e-mails to enlarge my tentacles and re-grow my third eye through Hotmail...
  • I would say the people who losted there data, got their moneys worth. not to say that the data was unimportant, but really do you want to trust your data to a "free" service?????????
  • by Numeric ( 22250 ) * on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:15AM (#9333487) Homepage Journal
    I had to double check my hotmail.com account after reading this alarming post. I was happy to find all my spam still in my account! Thank you to all the Hotmail.com admins.
  • by cipher uk ( 783998 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:15AM (#9333490)
    At stake was years' worth of personal and business correspondence, photos and the itinerary for a recently purchased trip

    why would someone store such important info on hotmail ? The notices saying they can't garentee your data won't disappear isn't there for PR. Its obvious things like this can happen so why not store it on something like a floppy. I mean hotmail doesn't even give you a lot of space. I haven't used it for a while but isn't it 3mb ? At least it was a free account and not one where he was paying for extra storage. That would have made it a hell of a lot worse if he was paying for the service.
    • Very common (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nonameisgood ( 633434 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:31AM (#9333982)
      1) people on shared computers
      2) people with no computer of thier own
      3) people who want access to the information from multiple computer or while away from thier own
      Which includes many of the following:
      a) college students
      b) the poor
      c) business people working at many locations and away from a fixed site (note that many networks previously used for internet access are now closed to personal laptops)
      d) travellers using internet cafes during a trip
  • Scary? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rufus88 ( 748752 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:15AM (#9333493)

    The scariest part of the article, however, is when a spokesman for iBackup, an Internet-based backup company, disclaims,'We do not provide a 100 percent guarantee that the backup will take place' of customers' data being stored with them for a fee."

    Duh. There are no 100% guarantees of anything in life. The only significance of any "guarantee" is the recourse the company gives you (e.g. your money back) if they fail to live up to it.There's no guarantee that your in-house backup system won't eat your data. There's no guarantee your brand new car won't explode. There's no guarantee that FedEx will absolutely, positively, not lose your package, let alone get it there overnight.
    • Re:Scary? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:30AM (#9333589) Homepage Journal
      It reads to me that iBackup don't even guarantee that they will even back it up AT ALL. OK I grant that backups can fail, but not backing up at all is pretty sad for a service that has "backup" in its company name! Sounds to me to be a bunch of retards.

      At least with FedEx, they will compensate you if they lose the package, provided you declared a value. I think $100 coverage is free with the shipment.
    • Guarantee = money (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jammer@CMH ( 117977 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:37AM (#9333620)
      Yes there is, there are plenty of 100% guarantees. "We guarantee that we will provide service X, with quality of service Y. If we fail, you are entitled to financial compensation Z by the terms of this guarantee."

      That is a 100% guarantee, but is not unlimited liability. Unlimited liability (in case of failure) is not something any business is eager to provide.

  • No guarantee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:17AM (#9333501)
    "'We do not provide a 100 percent guarantee that the backup will take place' of customers' data being stored with them for a fee."

    If they promote themselves as providing a backup service then it probably doesn't matter if they say they don't guarantee it in the fine print. They would almost certainly be legally liable for failure to provide the service as advertised if they didn't provide that service. There are legal customer rights which companies you can't get round, forunately. (At least in Europe, but I suspect it is the same in the USA).

  • Seems fair to me. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:17AM (#9333503)
    100% doesn't exist in the real world. In the real world there are media errors, drive failures, network failures, administration errors, power outages, disasters etc etc etc.

    Go tell your system vendor that you want guaranteed 100% service and watch his beeming grin appear.

    • Re:Seems fair to me. (Score:2, Informative)

      by GregChant ( 305127 )
      In the real world, yes, 100% does exist. Several of our systems here at work are guarenteed to be up 100% of the time, and 100% of our data backed up for a rollback period of a month (meaning we can roll back the server to any day in the past month in case of a disaster)

      So how is this possible? Easy; have a competent IT staff. A monkey can administer a properly working backup system, and if you want to stay in the managed hosting business, a working backup system is absolutely essential. Obviously there's
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:18AM (#9333510)
    and I had two personal hotmail accounts. Since I was on business and in a region were some of what was written in my email would be considered offensive and trust me, my life would have been put into jeopardy so I left the accounts alone. When I got back to the States, I had found that MS purged my two accounts. Nice, huh? When I emailed them, they said, "Too bad, so sad. If you don't access your account every 60days or whatever it is, you loose, f-off."

    Don't use MS products or services if you don't have too. It's not cause I think they suck, it's because they don't care. It's as simple as that.
    • So...you didn't read the agreement, it came back to bite you, and this is just because Microsoft is evil?

      Imagine if they left all the idle accounts alone and just let them accumulate SPAM or whatever. That's hardly good system policy.

      However evil Microsoft may or may not be, you cannot really use them as an answer to your own ignorance.
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:21AM (#9333524)
    Why not forward all email to a second account with a different provider for backup?
  • Hotmail Mares (Score:5, Informative)

    by sheeny ( 730803 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:21AM (#9333526)

    I also had a nightmare at one stage with Hotmail. I logged on one day and everything in sent items was gone. It was due to 'changes in service'. I was not amused and of course there is no way one can actually contact Hotmail - hell I don't know where this woman found their number! I'm impressed.

    Needless to say I changed provider which is also free and gives me 6Mb instead of 2 (mail.vu).
  • Why would they? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stevens ( 84346 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:22AM (#9333534) Homepage

    Why would iBackup offer it? For some reason, software makers (myself included) have been able to get away without guaranteeing anything for a long time. We don't finish projects sometimes, and even if we do, we don't guarantee you even get what you want.

    What is interesting, mind you, is that some consider this more realistic. The way Product Liability cases have been going the last 50 years, software is kind of lucky not to be included. Think of the awards for McDonalds coffee 'users;' people who eat glass and complain there was no sticker saying not to.

    If we demand courts throw away the disclaimers of liability by companies like iBackup or Microsoft, it could definitely hurt open source. If they throw out Windows' disclaimers of liability the GPL's disclaimer might not be far off. What if people could sue free software authors directly? That would be scary.

    It's a double-edged sword, and frankly, I don't know which way I'd like it to go. Anyone?

    • Re:Why would they? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      Another thought:

      Say a law was passed such that the liability would be limited to the amount paid for the software, unless otherwise agreed, like insurance or a special additional paid support package giving greater liabilities.

      Would that make you happy?
    • Re:Why would they? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by praksys ( 246544 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:54AM (#9334206)
      What if people could sue free software authors directly? That would be scary.

      No kidding. Consider how thoroughly medical proffessionals have been ass-fucked [acep.org] by lawyers...
      How much does medical liability insurance cost? A. Insurance premiums for emergency physicians grew on average by more than 50 percent from 2002 to 2003 to $53,500 (AMA 2003), with some paying more than $100,000 annually. Other medical specialists, such as neurosurgeons and OB-GYNs pay $200,000 to $300,000 annually.
      ...and be thanful it hasn't happened the IT industry - yet. Most doctors would be better off being taxed by the mafia than having to pay this lawyer tax.
  • Well, I guess it was bound to happen some time! Even with failover solutions, backups, mirrors and whatnot.. Statistically something at some point is bound to go wrong. Be it a combination of human error, hardware failure, bad luck, the world ending, you name it. There will almost certainly always be a combination of things that are near impossible to protect against..

    Same thing with Ibackup. Imagine if they promised with 100% certainty that your data was safe, and something occured that killed your data.
  • Always A Risk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:27AM (#9333557) Homepage Journal

    Sadly, data loss is always a risk no matter what you pay. The only thing you can do is take actions to minimize any potential loss. Given that, this really isn't news.

    Obligatory /. Fan Service: Oh, but this is Microsoft Hotmail! I'm outraged! Damn EULA!!

    That feels so much better!

  • From the article: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuzzix ( 700457 ) <flippy@example.com> on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:28AM (#9333565) Journal
    "At stake was years' worth of personal and
    business correspondence, photos and the itinerary for a recently purchased trip, the San Jose, Calif., health care worker said." (my emphasis)
    Isn't there a clause in Hotmail's AUP/TOS/Whatever that it cannot be used for any business purpose? I guess this SNAFU is the reason for that clause - If they could be held liable for loss of earnings then *poof* goes any economical reason for a free service.
    I have a hotmail account myself because some of my friends use MSN messenger (I use Gaim myself- find me on Yahoo, ICQ, MSN and of course, Jabber). Glad I never actually employed this mail account for mail purposes...
    Do other services have a "no business use" type disclaimer? Is Google liable if they chuck out 800MB of your GMail?
  • PFFT! (Score:3, Funny)

    by chrome ( 3506 ) <chrome@@@stupendous...net> on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:29AM (#9333578) Homepage Journal
    Any geek worth his salt has his own mailserver running a custom distribution with his own webmail over SSL, IMAP etc access and half a terabyte of storage. Hotmail! PFFT!

    Besides, who cares if Hotmail loses data. I lose data all the time. I don't get upset. Why should I get upset if my email provider loses some worthless mail. Anything important, I make a couple of copies and keep them around on CD, encrypted of course!
  • and it continues... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I thing that 'system events' may happen with any service provider, but because it happened to a MS related company, that's why it's being trumpeted on /.
  • I've been using iBackup's rsync server to back up RubyForge [rubyforge.org] for the past year or so. Works great, nice and fast, good times!
  • Happened to me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dFaust ( 546790 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:44AM (#9333650)
    Over the past few weeks, Hotmail has been continuously deleting a set of about 60 emails out of my Inbox (yes, it needed cleaned out anyways, but that probably wasn't the way to go about doing it). Thankfully, I check my email enough that said emails are still in the trash and I can manually retrieve them.

    While I've exported my important email to Thunderbird, I still have plenty of non-crucial stuff in Hotmail. It wouldn't have been the end of the world had the files been deleted, but it was pretty disconcerting none-the-less.

    I finally sent them an email explaining the problem and my annoyance. I recieved a form e-mail saying I would get a response within 24 hours.... which I didn't. Though all my e-mails have stayed intact so far... but it's only been a few days. If the problem doesn't come back, it seems to imply the problem is fixable.

  • You know, computers are pretty cranky devices when they aren't already complicated even more by shoddy software, so it's only inevitable that data loss will eventually occur. No manner of human storage is completely and 100% reliable, regardless of whether or not you are paying for a service.

    Yeah, it's a damn shame that some user's info was lost. And it's even more a shame that it looks like it was some of them who were paying for it. But anyone who honestly puts complete faith in a human-devised storage
    • As much as I loathe M$, I'm going to have to agree. Apple's .Mac was down for a while, and people were cheesed. Nothing on /. A little bias is okay when they do stupid things (like patent the double-click), but this could happen to anybody. But I do think they should be a little forthcoming as to what the 'system event' is. Was it a hack? Was it a drive error? That would alleviate some of the flack they're taking for this.
  • by blackest_k ( 761565 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:44AM (#9333652) Homepage Journal
    with the price of the usb keyrings being so cheap surely its worth saving your email onto one of them where ever you go in the world?
    The true value of hotmail is your email account is accessable anywhere.

    Why not an Isp email account ?
    How often do you change providers?

    Myself I have had accounts with
    demon, fci, virgin, bt, NTL tiscali...
    If you use the ISP's email services you have to migrate your email account a pain in the ...

    for me far worse than Hotmail is Outlook Express.
    Downloaded Email from hotmail to my PC.
    deleted my Email from my hotmail account.
    (regaining the space to recieve new messages).
    15 Minutes later my Pc logs itself into hotmail and sync's outlook express with my hotmail account.
    DELETING my unread mail from my PC.

    Is it wrong to think that hotmail is the postbox where i collect my mail and when I want to sync my mail I mean get any mail from the hotmail server that isn't already on my Pc so I can read it off line?

    I am sure everyone keeps all their important mail on the mat behind the front door and any mail anywhere else, such as your desk is unimportant and should go in the trash.

    I think thats when I really started to hate Microsoft.

  • "System events" ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jesrad ( 716567 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @08:48AM (#9333668) Journal
    Now that is a lie by omission if I ever saw one. Was it a hardware failure ? A software failure ? An operator mistake ? An external attack ? A natural catastrophe ?

    Of course no one can guarantee a 100% rate of security. In commercial aerial transport the norm is one incident in a million of movements, it'd be nice if the same rate was enforced in IT as a general rule.
  • netscape.net email (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:05AM (#9333787) Homepage Journal
    My netscape mail has been completely cleaned out at least twice already, including all of my folders. Anyone else have this experience there? I mainly use it as my junk/product mail address, so I only check it, like, once a month or so... maybe that's a factor?

    In the mean time, I've been changing my junk/product mail to yahoo.com, since I can download it into my maildir using fetchyahoo.pl . That way, at least it goes through their spam filters once before going through my local spamassasin daemon.

    Netscape's webmail also really sucked in that you could only delete spam a pageful of 25 at a time :P

    Just so that I'm marginally on topic, I've been able to avoid hotmail ever since they got bought by MS way back when. I take it this data loss means they finally succeeded in migrating from FreeBSD to Win** Server? :P
  • by Servo ( 9177 ) <dstringf&gmail,com> on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:13AM (#9333846) Journal
    I'm in the professional backup/storage management field and can tell you this... NOBODY will give you better than 99.9% reliability guarentee. There are far too many things to break that no matter what, you are likely to either miss something due to a general outage or have a tape/disk go bad.
  • Hey. Don't think! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:51AM (#9334175)
    From the article: "It's scary," Felton said. "These services are easy and free, so people don't even think about using them."

    Well, there you go. That's what happens when you don't think.
  • by LookSharp ( 3864 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @11:16AM (#9334974)
    I use hotmail as a "catchall" for people and companies that send me crap. I also use it to read POP mail at work. For $19.95 a year, it seemed like a good bargain. I always swore I would never keep anything there that was "valuable," because I knew MS would never guarantee availability.

    What ended up happening is that I was in the middle of an ISP migration, and used Hotmail on March 30th to download all my remaining POP messages that I kept stored (e.g. important or frequently-accessed messages) on my ISP's server before my account was deactivited. Typically I would then go home and import that mail from Hotmail into a local mail file. What actually happened was I got busy for a couple of days, and when I logged in on 4/1 (April fool's day!) I had an empty Hotmail box.

    I complained and got a form letter response a couple of days later, saying they hoped I understood, but they had experienced a system "event" and were working to restore data. Anything not restored within 72 hours would not be recovered. Thank you for understanding.

    I never got a single message back. Fortunately, none of the info I lost was business-related, only family and event planning data, but it goes to show what MS gives you, even when you PAY for service.
  • by josepha48 ( 13953 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @12:48PM (#9336090) Journal
    .. then the same thing happened to me.. at the time that Microsoft took over hotmail, they shortly there after started tinkering with the system to 'make it better'. In doing so they lost some of my email. I emailed their support and they said 'sorry' essentially. So I did the only thing I could. I switched to using yahoo email and have not lost a single email since.

    Its not that I hate Microsoft, its that I just don't trust them with my data.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll