Earlier this week, I allowed a bunch of Android applications to update, including Samsung’s SmartThings app for my home automation. After the SmartThings app had updated, I launched it, only to find that it had forgotten my login. I entered my username and password and was essentially treated as a new customer. After answering some questions, I got to the main screen, and ALL of my home automation devices were gone, as were all of my rules.
I called Samsung’s SmartThings Tech Support and was told that this started happening to people in the last day or two and they don’t understand why. Then I asked “Where is my data? Where are my z-wave device registrations? How do I get my rules back.”
The answer: You don’t.
Something went wrong on their side and I got treated as a new user who was registering the hub for the first time.
That blew away my entire SmartThings home automation programming that used to look something like this:
Q: Don’t you have backups?
- A: No, we don’t back up customer data.
Q: Could I have backed it up?
- A: We’re working a feature to do that.
Q: So now what? I have run around the house finding all of my z-wave devices, rebuilding the entire Z-Wave network and then trying to remember what kinds of rules I had? I start over from scratch?
- A: Um, sorry, yeah, pretty much. I can send you some directions on how to dis-associate and then re-build the Z-Wave network.
The Samsung SmartThings Hub is entirely cloud based.
I login to their mobile app to configure it. The mobile app stores the configuration in the cloud and the cloud communicates with the unit in my house. I don’t login to the hardware in my house. Without their mobile app and their cloud service, I don’t believe that the product will work at all.
Ten years ago the hub in my house would have been configured by a built-in web server, like a home WiFi router. Software updates would have been 100% under my control. I likely would have had the ability to backup the configuration before applying new firmware. There would have been no mobile app, and no cloud service.
The cloud is great 99% of the time but if your cloud provider screws something up, you’re left with nothing. It could be a bankruptcy, a hack, or in this case, a software bug.
As we have all rushed towards the cloud, there is something to be said for a local backup. Better yet, the offline backup. Like when I used to backup my entire machine to a stack of CDs or DVDs. Those discs couldn’t get hacked by the Russians or deleted by any ransom-ware.
I’ll be spending this weekend walking around the house, phone in hand, crawling around under desks to re-configure my SmartThings Z-Wave network and then rebuilding my home automation rules from scratch.
I haven’t gotten the credit yet, so I may be calling again.
Update: After this post was published, I received a store credit to my account as promised. SmartThings Support does not know that I wrote this post.
We personally purchased the Samsung SmartThings Hub we have in our home and have loved how easy it has been to connect various smart home products but this experience definitely shows a downside to over-reliance on the cloud. All opinions are based on personal experience. No compensation was received for this post. To date, no credit has been added to my account. Amazon Affiliate links are included in this post.