Dear FileSlinger clients, colleagues, and friends:
The CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment Expo and conference took place in San Francisco earlier this week, which makes it particularly appropriate for me to talk about backing up your cell phone.
The new “Smart Phones” were prominently on display at the Expo. These are essentially a combination of PDA and cell phone, and as such are already designed to be synced with a computer for backup. Some also use memory cards, as many of the newer PDAs do.
But what about those of us who use more ordinary cell phones? After all, Smart Phones are generally expensive and even the technical-minded reviewers in PC Magazine find some of their features incomplete and difficult to use—not to mention the fact that you might have to change wireless providers in order to be able to use the model you prefer.
Because cell phones save numbers that you have dialed and the phone numbers of incoming calls, it’s easy to add new numbers to your phone book, and a cell phone is easier to carry than a Rolodex. Those numbers don’t necessarily make it onto paper or into your computer contact program. After all, if you can get the number out of your phone at any time, what’s the point having it somewhere else?
The point is this: if you don’t have those numbers stored elswhere, how will you get them back if the phone is lost or stolen? And then there are phone upgrades: do you really want to have to enter all those phone numbers by hand, working your way through the number pad to spell out the names of your contacts? I don’t—I’ve had to re-enter mobile phone numbers by hand twice now, once after a phone was stolen and once after upgrading.)
One vendor at the expo, Remo Mobile/Xpherix, offers services called iBackup, iPhonebook, and iDatebook. Naturally I looked at iBackup first: “Backup and restore your contacts at any time on your existing or new mobile phone.”
I went to the website and discovered that there was only one model of mobile phone that works with iBackup: the LG VX6000. iPhonebook, which stores your phone numbers online, works with a wider range of mobile phones (though not mine), and might be an alternative. Xpherix products are designed to work with Windows PCs and either Microsoft Outlook or Palm OS. Clearly, this was not the ultimate solution, and certainly not a solution for me personally.
Supposedly my wireless provider, Verizon, is offering, or plans to offer, a backup service to those who sign up for their “Get It Now” service, but I couldn’t find any mention of this in their “Get It Now” brochure or on their website. It is, however, worth checking with your own provider to see whether they have such a service, whether it works with your phone, and what it costs. Keep in mind that any service of this kind means that you are transmitting your contacts over a cellular network—and cell phone signals are notoriously easy to tap into for even entry-level hackers.
Not to be deterred in my pursuit of a backup solution, I kept looking, and found a reprint of an article on cell phone backup which recommended FutureDial’s SnapSync ($30 for the software, data transfer cable not included) and Intellisync Phone Edition ($34.95, data transfer cable not included).
And, somewhat to my surprise, both of these products will work with my phone (a Motorola 120e). I haven’t bought either of them, though, because a little research showed that it was possible to download the older TrueSync (the software described in my cell phone manual) from the Motorola website for free. I also downloaded the free Mobiledit Lite. I’m not sure how well either will work, since I don’t have a data transfer cable (available elsewhere for much less than either Verizon or Motorola charges), but I promise to let you know the results once I do.
In conclusion: getting your cell phone backed up will probably require some research, time, and money, but if the thought of losing your cell phone gives you cold chills, it’s almost certainly going to be worth it. If the prospect of figuring it out is too daunting, I’d be happy to do the research and installation for you at my usual rates.
But don’t put off backing up the rest of your data until you’ve found a cell phone solution!
Until next week, when I’ll have more software and hardware recommendations,