That phone was far from top-of-the-line when I got it; I distinctly remember the kid who sold it to me trying to convince me I needed a color screen. Two years ago Verizon offered me a free camera phone when I renewed my contract, but I couldn’t see why I’d need one, and passed it up. I have been, in a nutshell, a cell phone Luddite.
All that is changing. Among other things, I discovered why a person with a digital camera could still want a camera phone. As of just over a week ago, I am now the proud owner of a Motorola RAZR V3m. It has a color screen and a 1.3 megapixel camera.
More important, at least for the purposes of this newsletter, it has a USB port.
Not that Verizon really wants me to use it for anything except connecting the battery charger and the headset. Here is a phone designed to be able to sync up beautifully with a computer, but the wireless carrier locks out all those functions in an attempt to make you send all files and make all backups through their network. (I give Verizon credit for providing a backup option so people don’t lose their cell phone contacts, but that doesn’t mean I actually want to use it.)
Getting the phone to talk to the computer requires additional software. I invested a modest amount in Motorola Phone Tools and a companion “Advanced Features” CD from CellCables.com. Apparently the Phone Tools software works with most current Motorola phones, as does the companion CD.
I spent about two hours arguing with the software after I installed it, and then about an hour on the phone with the helpful customer service person at CellCables.com, and finally had everything working. I can now back up my cell phone numbers onto my computer, and also synchronize them with my Outlook contacts. That means that to some extent the phone also acts as a backup for my computer, though it only stores the information from phone, e-mail, and Instant Messaging fields.
The synchronize function works much like HotSync for PDAs. You get to choose ahead of time which folders and/or categories to synchronize (I don’t really need all 820 contacts in my phone) and to decide whether the computer or the phone should take precedence. (I set it to “ask each time” as there’s no guarantee one will be more up-to-date than the other.)
The main use the Motorola Phone Tools help file suggests for the backup/restore function is “cases where you would like to recover data overwritten by synchronizing.” Almost everyone has had at least one experience of overwriting the wrong thing during synchronization, so it’s definitely a good idea to back up the data already in your phone before performing your first synchronization. If you add numbers directly into your phone a lot, you should back up or synchronize (or both) frequently.
The help file also says that “The mobile phone contacts, calendar and tasks are saved locally in a .csv file.” CSV stands for “comma separated values.” You can open such file in a text editor like notepad or a spreadsheet like Excel, or import the data from it to Outlook, ACT, or another contact manager.
“Locally” isn’t very specific, though. You don’t have to know where the files are to use the Restore Wizard, but I like to know where my backups are so I can make sure to back them up, and you certainly have to be able to locate files before importing them into another program. So I went hunting and located the backup files in C:\Documents and Settings\Sallie Goetsch\Local Settings\Application Data\BVRP Software\Motorola Phone Tools\Backup.
Not exactly right out in the open. I might’ve expected Motorola Phone Tools to create a folder in “My Documents” for storing phone data, but apparently that would be too risky. “Local Settings” is one of the folders that Windows likes to hide from you, so unless you have “display hidden files and folders” turned on in your folder options, you’d never spot this file, much less be able to mess with it.
When importing the .csv file, you need to be aware that the fields are not separated by literal commas, but by semicolons. And there are several columns containing numerical data which is probably only meaningful if you’re a cell phone programmer.
If you’re using Outlook and your cell phone to back each other up, you might not need this particular backup, but why take chances? It’s actually easier to back up than to synchronize. And it’s much easier to back up than to key in all those names and phone numbers again, even on the relatively generous-sized number pad of a RAZR.
Next week at this time I’ll be in Ontario, California, giving a presentation at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. I’m hoping to be able to write and queue up a Backup Reminder before I go, but now would be a great time for one of you to volunteer to write a guest column.
Until then, don’t let playing with new gadgets distract you from backing up your data!
Jeff H says
Thanks for the review. I just bought a Motorola L6 (Cingular, “now the new AT&T”), and am looking into getting the data sync kit from CellCables.com.
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Rekha M says
Thank you for posting the location of the backup. I couldn’t find it. Motorola has been a huge waste of my time. I was having a bug in the W490 whereby when I end a call with the headset in, the phone rings back the person I was speaking to, without my knowing, and they can hear everything.So I called for help and they had me do a master reset. Didn’t fix the problem, but it did reset my phone book. They then sent me Motorola Phone Tools as a consolation, but I was having difficulty figuring out how to save all* the numbers for each contact (it’s saving only one). And the customer service took an hour of my life without knowing anything.At least now I know where the (partial) backup is stored. Thanks.
The FileSlinger says
Sorry to hear you had so much trouble with Motorola. I’m still using my RAZR phone, but Verizon really wants to keep me from being able to move things from phone to computer without paying them for the privilege, which is annoying.
thx for noting the location of this saved file for contacts…I had forgot to check search hidden folders (I thought it wld have saved to my docs as well) Many thx Kieran