If you sync your PDA with your computer, each machine serves as a backup for the other. (You’ve also probably experienced problems with duplicates and unwanted overwrites, but that’s another article.)
Cell phones, at least the more traditional ones which are primarily phones and don’t make use of a Palm or Windows Mobile operating system, are a bit trickier, and even if nothing goes wrong, users find themselves faced with the problem of getting their phone book from the old phone to the new. In some cases you can simply move the SIM card from the old phone into the new one—but this requires 1) some technical aptitude and 2) compatible systems between phones, and 3) that you not have changed carrier or phone number in the meantime.
Some carriers will now let you upload and store your cell phone directory onto their network—but that’s not an option everyone will want to make use of, for reasons like privacy and security.
Fortunately, manufacturers are coming to the rescue of cell phone users. Two new products (one available now and one expected in the second quarter of this year) are designed exclusively for backing up cell phones. Better yet, they’re compatible with many different phones, so don’t depend on the manufacturer, never mind the carrier. (For any readers outside the U.S. who may be puzzled by this reference, it’s pretty useless to buy a cell phone here without also signing up with a cell phone carrier; hence the phones are usually provided “free” with a two-year service contract.)
The first, which is available now, is the CellStik from Spark Technology corporation (http://www.sparktech.com). It looks much like any other USB memory stick. One end plugs into your computer, the other to your cell phone. You can transfer data either from the computer to the phone, or from the phone to the computer, by pressing one of the directional buttons. You can also use it to move data between phones.
CellStik only works with Windows computers and with newer phones—my Motorola 120e isn’t on their list, but if you’ve got one of those slick new RAZR models, you can get a CellStik for $40.
The other new cell phone backup device is Cellular Phonebook Backup Pal from Advanced Wireless Solutions, LLC (www.backup-pal.com). This circular device has three buttons on it: Backup, Reset, and Restore to Phone. It runs on AAA batteries and connects to your phone or computer via an interchangable interface module (infrared, USB, or phone-specific serial).
Backup Pal is meant to operate independently of a computer, so it might not matter whether it’s Mac-compatible, but being able to get the numbers I’ve put in my cell phone while out into my computer contact program is something I’d want to be able to do with such a device.
Since it’s not actually on the market yet, I can’t tell whether it will work with my phone—but I’m not holding my breath. Maybe I should’ve taken Verizon up on their offer of a new camera phone last time I renewed my contract. I just couldn’t see what I’d want with it, since I already have a digital camera and prefer to use my cell phone only for outgoing calls.
Anyone who knows of any other such devices, or better yet, has actually used one—write in and let us know how it works.
Finally, a tip of the hat to Doug Boysen and Delphi Backup. Doug got in touch with me months ago, and I never followed up. Delphi provides online backup solutions through Value Added Resellers, in case any of you is looking to become a backup service reseller. Since I don’t want to add to the tech-support/computer geek side of my business, I’m really not interested in becoming a reseller for anyone’s backup solution, no matter how good, but if you’re looking for managed offsite backup, you can contact Doug directly at [email protected] and let him tell you why you should prefer Delphi to its competitors.