Back on June 13th I reported that several of my Hotmail records had been altered or deleted on my phone, and subsequently on all my Windows connected devices. Actually, there were a total of (5) Hotmail records, either deleted or altered, and another (5) Hotmail/Facebook linked records, where all the Hotmail related data disappeared. I suspected that it may have had something to do with the Developer Preview updates, and the migrating of data, which is part of the update process. The most recent Developer Preview update arrived on that same day; 8.10.12397.895, and there have been none since.
Over that weekend, June 14/15, I did what I promised I would do. I recovered the 10 altered contacts from my Lumia 520, which had not yet updated as the battery was drained. I then transferred all the critical data from my 15 year old, previously unaffected, Hotmail account to Index cards, so I would have a lasting backup. About 140 records of the 200+ currently on my phone. It took about 7 hours to hand write the info (more writing than I do in a year) but now it appears it was all worth it.
On Sunday I discovered that my sister-in-law’s contact record had been completely altered. When I hand wrote that data on June 14th, I was certain that her; full address, home & cell numbers, and email address were part of the record on my phone and PCs. It also included her month/day of birth (from FB) and link to her FB Wall. The account was linked to; Hotmail, Facebook & Skype. She recently updated her FB profile to promote a new consulting business; adding her cell number as a business contact number and, as she lives in a rural Florida town, a more recognizable City/State. When I opened her record to share the address with someone, it was gone! So was her home phone number. Her cell number had been changed from “mobile” to “work”, and the syntax had changed from 000-000-0000 to +1 0000000000 (which I never use). Her home address was replaced with the City/State from Facebook. I was able to restore all the pertinent data when I got home, thanks to my new low-tech index card system. Otherwise it would have been lost, requiring me to contact her to retrieve the data. Even now though, when I try to edit the Hotmail info on her record, changing her cell number to the proper syntax; 000-000-0000, it still displays the +1 0000000000. So somewhere, beyond my reach, it’s picking that up.
I checked the 10 records that originally had problems and they all appear to be intact. But I have no idea if any of the other important 130 Hotmail records on my phone have been damaged or altered. Why, or how is this happening? No one but me, should have the right or authority to change or delete anything in one of my Hotmail contacts. And before we get into the tampering conspiracy thing, I use Two-Step Authentication and know for certain that no one but me has access to my data. Furthermore, logically you can see what’s happening. During some sync process with other accounts, data is being overwritten. And that just should NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.
I have been building database applications for twenty years and know a bit about comparing data, appending records and syncing. Your Mail account is the primary record and no method of syncing should alter it, unless “you” altered it on another platform. Other accounts like; Facebook, Twitter or Skype can append “additional data” to your primary record, but it CANNOT ALTER EXISTING DATA. Those are, or should be the rules. But that’s not what’s happening. This disappearing data has got to stop.
I suspect that there is some new Facebook syncing routine, probably created by a Microsoft intern, that is full of bugs and flaws. The only recourse I can think of now is to unlink all my contacts, so that I will see multiple references to the same name, but at least each record should sync independently. Or, at least that’s what I would expect to happen.
Windows Phone 8.1 is now available on new phone models, and the update is scheduled to roll out to some lucky users very soon. So this is not what I would call test software any longer. The current Developer Preview is probably very close to the final build we will all see eventually. I believe this data manipulation/deletion problem may be floating under the radar right now and will raise it’s ugly head when more people start using WP8.1. Microsoft needs to address and resolve this issue before it turns into a nightmare.