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How to Backup Your Smart Phone 85

Posted by Zonk
from the smartness-of-user-not-guaranteed dept.
Lucas123 writes "According to a Computerworld story there will be 8 million cell phones/smart phones lost this year. The site describes how to easily back up data on handhelds. The piece also addresses the future of these technologies: 'In Dulaney's opinion, traditional USB syncing "will die." Gartner is telling its corporate customers they should hasten this process by not permitting their employees to sync to their PCs. He explains this by saying that individual end users can create distributed computing and security problems because they are poor data administrators. Moreover, he adds, PCs are not necessarily more reliable than cell phones. Drake gives a qualified endorsement of wireless e-mail as the master application for backing up and syncing data, saying the technology is fine for dedicated e-mail environments but insufficient for corporate environments that require a vast array of wireless applications.'"
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How to Backup Your Smart Phone

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  • by OutOnARock (935713) on Friday July 13, 2007 @04:57PM (#19853089)
    all my contacts and sensitive data in the hands of my cell service provider.

    "Oh you want to leave, I'm sorry but our backups failed and your data is gone..."

    "Oh you decided to stay, guess what, we've found that backup...."

    • by Dan541 (1032000)
      Why not webhosts have been doing it for years

      ~Dan
    • If a smart phone isn't smart enough to backup itself, does it deserve to be called "smart"? ;)

      OK, admitted, the phones are most likely smarter than most their users, given reports like this one [slashdot.org]

  • Wow! That's a lot of free upgrades....uh. insurance claims...uh.. unlucky consumers!
  • No longer an issue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Friday July 13, 2007 @04:59PM (#19853107) Homepage
    My data account with t-mobile in the UK costs less than $30 per month and covers 3gb of data*. 10gb would be less than $50 per month. Speeds are over 100k/sec. Do the first sync by popping the SD card into your laptop, install rsync, set up a scheduled task to run while the thing is on the charger at night and then forget about it.

    If you are at home it can even discover and use WiFi saving you some bandwidth - if you think it's worth the hassle.

    Of course you might have problems with this if your smart phone doesn't run Linux, but it'll only cost you about $300 to fix that :)

    *More is not charged for, but you can't do it too often.
    • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Friday July 13, 2007 @05:28PM (#19853383) Homepage Journal

      So you want to sync a 1 or 2-gig phone card? 2 gigabytes = 16 gigabits. That's a LOT of $$$.

      I'll stick to my USB cable - fast, easy to use under linux - no special drivers needed.

    • I'll stick with letting iSync handle my Nokia N70 automatically.

      I know a lot of people who have smartphones but aren't part of an enterprise system. What are they supposed to do to backup their phones? Buy, install and configure Windows Server and Exchange Server?
    • Of course you might have problems with this if your smart phone doesn't run Linux, but it'll only cost you about $300 to fix that :)

      Or another six months (Palm) if you live in an area with CDMA signaling.
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      Is that gigabits or tribblebytes?
  • by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Friday July 13, 2007 @04:59PM (#19853111)
    From a backup?
  • Blame the users (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jrumney (197329) on Friday July 13, 2007 @05:03PM (#19853149) Homepage

    He explains this by saying that individual end users can create distributed computing and security problems because they are poor data administrators.

    The biggest reason that corporate IT departments aren't particularly respected by the rest of the company is this blame the user culture that seems to pervade it. If there are shortcomings in the desktop and mobile software that makes it easy to get things wrong, then the software is at fault. Software is a tool for people, not the other way around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If a company wants to protect data that it has on company-provided smartphones, "trust everyone to back it up to their PC, and back up their PC on a regular basis as well", is not going to work because most people don't back up their PC's. Pointing that out isn't "blame the user", it's "point out how user behavior constrains how IT can solve the problem". Solutions could include backing it up by other means, or it could include automatically backing up work PC's somehow, but if trusting the employees to vol
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iluvcapra (782887)

        Pointing that out isn't "blame the user", it's "point out how user behavior constrains how IT can solve the problem".

        If the user's home directories are kept on a share, then it's relatively easy to back up their stuff on a daily basis, but it costs money to build the SAN and network infrastructure. Even easier, put scripts on their systems to rsync their home directories to a repository at night; there are several commercial programs that will do this, but again you do have to spend money (on Macs, Retro

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Penguinisto (415985)

          ...but it costs money to build the SAN and network infrastructure.

          Well, NFS / automount and an array works quite nicely if you don't want to shell out the dough for a full-on SAN. With Linux users it's a total breeze to maintain once you get it set up (especially so w/ NIS or LDAP to bind it all together). Tie the /home server into Samba for the Windows users (then instruct 'em to drop their backups to a mapped drive on their desktop PC), and as long as you can keep the network halfway tuned (and keep an eye on it for bandwidth reasons, just like you would for a SAN),

          • "With Linux users it's a total breeze to maintain once you get it set up (especially so w/ NIS or LDAP to bind it all together)"

            You mean that in your environment it is not a problem that *every* single user on the network can fake *any* other and thus trivially gain access to their private data (including corporate-sensible one). Well, I think the article was about security compliance worriness, clearly a field not of your interest.
            • by iluvcapra (782887)

              You still need someone's credentials to access their home directory, meaning you need their name, password and any third factor you might want. You might be thinking of something different.

              Further, with local homes it's pretty easy to fake another user; if Alice wants to fake Bob, Alice simply sits at Bob's desk and turns his computer on. If you can touch a box, as long as the hard drive isn't encrypted, you'll be able to get what's on it (and large organizations would do well to forbid people from encry

              • "You still need someone's credentials to access their home directory, meaning you need their name, password and any third factor you might want. You might be thinking of something different."

                On a Linux-based NFS plus NIS environment? Not at all. Once you are root on your local machine, you can access *any* data avaliable on the server since you can present it any UID. Check your facts if you don't believe me.

                "Further, with local homes it's pretty easy to fake another user; if Alice wants to fake Bob, Alic
          • by iluvcapra (782887)

            Well, NFS / automount and an array works quite nicely if you don't want to shell out the dough for a full-on SAN.

            It do, but it don't scale past more than a couple people. The nice thing about local homes is that when the machine at the desk crashes, only the guy at the desk can't work. If the machine with the exported NFS crashes, suddenly the whole company can't work, so for anything more than a few people you need the whole five-nines bullshit.

            I agree perfectly that the article completely overlooks th

        • If the user's home directories are kept on a share, then it's relatively easy to back up their stuff on a daily basis, but it costs money to build the SAN and network infrastructure. Even easier, put scripts on their systems to rsync their home directories to a repository at night; there are several commercial programs that will do this, but again you do have to spend money (on Macs, Retrospect was pretty good for this).

          Assuming this works (as some have replied to you suggesting it won't), congratulations

          • by iluvcapra (782887)

            Well yes, but I guess it depends on your definition of "constraining the user." Setting up a SAN with remote home directories I wouldn't consider "constraining the user," because it doesn't require any action on their part, and the desktop experience is about the same. OTOH, just emailing everyone once a month to say "Everyone back up your drives! It's policy!" isn't really good IT; the idea is to provide as many services as possible while requiring the least possible interaction from them.

            It's like a d

            • Constraint isn't always necessary, and I agree the SAN solution bypasses the user's poor backup behaviors more than it constrains them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ryanov (193048)
        Frankly, I think the bigger concern of most companies is data not being lost, but escaping. Most companies seem to want to find a way to protect documents from getting off the phone and onto a computer that is able to send the data anywhere... at least that's what I've read.
      • by lelitsch (31136)

        it could include automatically backing up work PC's somehow
        I am not sure where you work. But if the place you are working at doesn't back up work PCs daily, inevitably, and without any user intervention, you should fire your IT personnel, or if it's not in your power to do so, run like hell.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KillerCow (213458)

      The biggest reason that corporate IT departments aren't particularly respected by the rest of the company is this blame the user culture that seems to pervade it.

      Yes, but the biggest reason that corporate IT departments don't respect users is because users ask them to do things that are impossible.

      User: "I want a way to buck up my data onto an unsecured machine securely."

      IT: "There's no product on the market to do that, or if there is, you wont pay for it."

      User: "It's all your fault!"

      • True enough.
        Our IT has enough sense (in spite of their massive red tape) to know this.
        All machines run Connected net backup daily, notebooks run whenever on the corp network (daily, immediately if a day is missed).
        The users can restore files as needed and machine restores are done by IT.
        It all "just works".

        Users can back up thier PDAs phones whatever to the PC and CNB will grab it.
        There is a folder in the my documents folder called NoBackup. Great for storing iso images and such.
        -nB
    • by Umuri (897961)
      Because of course when software tells a user they can't do something, the user wouldn't ever DREAM of trying to get around it. Or leave their passwords on sticky notes. Or copy sensitive files to a public ftp for "Easy access" from home.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JesseL (107722)
      What you say is true.

      Unfortunately, it's also true that past a certain point it's impossible for software or administrators to completely correct the failings of stupid, lazy, or irresponsible users.

      Encouraging users (or anyone) to shoulder a little responsibility isn't always a bad thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)
      While I agree with you, there are certainly exceptions.. I work in a place that is regulated by privacy laws. If someone wants to take work home, we have to tell them HELL NO! Because the bottom line of it all is that my Dept. is in charge of many IT things, but along with that comes the responsibility of safeguarding our data. We work very hard to ensure that our data and systems are protected. We do not have the time, inclination, or resources to also guarantee that your home computer that your kids u
    • The biggest reason that corporate IT departments aren't particularly respected by the rest of the company is this blame the user culture that seems to pervade it.

      Oh, come on, man; I could just as easily say that 'The biggest reason that corporate IT users aren't particularly respected by the IT function of the company is the cluelessness of the user culture that seems to pervade it'.

      Both comments have some truth to them, but are gross generalisations.

      I can honestly say, that as a user, most of the software that I've used for cell phones or combined PDA's/cell phones is not particularly well thought through WRT backup/restore and migration of data to a new devi

    • Software is a tool for people, not the other way around.

      For now at least. But we machines are working to change that, meatsack.
    • Absolutely! Most busines PC users are, if anything, too tech-savy for their support teams. They have smartphones, and PCs at home.
      Once they see all the stuff that is out there, they become more and more demanding. All too frequently, (and yes, I know all the reasons - package and dependencies management, budget constraints..), corporate IT does not provide a quick, easy and cost-effective response.

      Thus users end up 'breaking' or 'hacking' the corporate IT stuff because it does not meet their needs.

      The wo
  • if it was smart enough it should backup itself!
  • soution: bitpim (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tmack (593755) on Friday July 13, 2007 @05:11PM (#19853213) Homepage Journal
    BitPim [bitpim.org] will gladly backup your phone. Its also free, open source, GPL software. Might not support All phones, but its support list is quite long. Works great with my old Sanyo 4900...

    Tm

    • What's really needed is a good way to synchronize the phone with everything else. I've got a Palm PDA, RAZR cellphone, iPod, several computers (with varying OSs), and a Google account, and a Free Software solution to synchronize my PIM data between all of them does not exist. Even a proprietary solution would require daisy-chaining several kinds of disparate software, which would make the whole scheme very likely to lose data. Heck, even single-vendor stuff doesn't work properly: my Palm fails to preserve e

    • Looks pretty great, but does it back stuff up in a neutral format? My first cell phone was a Nokia, next was an Ericsson, then a Moto flip-phone, then back to a Nokia, now back to a Moto. Half of these switches were because of a sudden failure of the phone (either theft or a 3-year-old). So what I'd want would be something that could handle common data (names and phone numbers, at least, calendar entries would be nice, I could give a shit about ringtones, wallpapers and other dweeb-essentials) and load i
      • by Tmack (593755)

        Looks pretty great, but does it back stuff up in a neutral format? ...

        It will export [bitpim.org] data from your phonebook, calendar, notes, etc as csv, and you cant get much more generic/universal than that. The how-to also has some hints [bitpim.org] for sync'ing calendar with ical, google calendar, and a few others.

        tm

    • by chrb (1083577)
      gammu [gammu.org] --backup works with most phones. Use expect for automated backups:

      #!/usr/bin/expect -f

      set timeout 30
      spawn gammu --backup mobile.dat
      expect "Use Unicode subformat of backup file"
      send "no\n"
      expect "Backup phone phonebook"
      send "ALL\n"
      expect "GPRS access points"
      wait
  • I've got a Moto Razr v3c phone with US Cellular. One pleasant thing I happened to notice (despite them not making any effort to advertise it to me) is they've released a free "My Contacts Backup" utility (developed by Asurion). You create a user account on a web page off their main site first, and configure the software to use the same account, and it automatically uploads your contact list and changes to them at pre-defined times. (Mine is set to do so nightly.)

    Unfortunately, it doesn't (yet) seem to sy
  • This sounds like a metaphysical question. How do you back up a telephone? Or, what would the backup procedure be if the website is responding? How many Slashdoters can dance on port 80 of a webserver?

    I know! Forced bluetooth backups in the restroom! Put bluetooth readers by every toilet/urinal/sink (get it?) so when people visit the restroom their phones get backed up. Just don't ask me how they'd do a restore.... As a security measure, only allow the bluetooth to be activated when their pants are

  • by Adambomb (118938) on Friday July 13, 2007 @05:19PM (#19853289) Journal
    Ahh the cellphone industry.

    This type of backup is nothing new, a provider here in canada has had this style of application for backing up contact lists for over a year now for certain handsets. The convenience of a contact list (read: the inconvenience of losing it) is one of the retention techniques used in the industry here in canada, and i'm sure it is the same in the states. I somehow doubt that having the contacts stored by the provider themselves is going to be at all useful EXCEPT for one specific case: You lose/destroy/etc your device and are getting a hardware upgrade through your existing provider or purchasing out of pocket FOR the existing provider.

    Blaming users own inability to herd data securely is a severely weak excuse for removing the one nearly-universal method of accessing the phone's data. What these companies want is to remove any and all data transfers that are not through their own data networks. Why would you want your customer to back up his own information when you can retain control of said information? Why would you want a customer to find a way to upload mp3's directly to their mp3 enabled phone instead of using their mobile browser store?

    The rational for this is obvious, and the only sad thing is that the corporate clients are not the ones who will feel the pain. Once it becomes a "Standard" to not have USB file transfers, its the CONSUMERS who are going to find themselves limited to their provider for any and all data transfers (check data plan rates recently? if you do not REALLY need them they're quite the thorn to the side).

    This smells to me like a prelude to DRM type control approached from a different angle. Instead of putting the content control in the content, its in controlling delivery methods.
  • by Alchemar (720449) on Friday July 13, 2007 @05:19PM (#19853303)
    The hardware portion of a PC might not be anymore reliable than a cellphone, but to date I have not complete any of the following acts with my desktop

    Had it fallen out of my shirt pocket into a comode
    Forgoten to take it out of the pocket in my shorts before going swimming
    Had to remove a shorting battery because the desktop was in my pocket when the canoe tipped over
    Left my desktop on the table at a restraunt
    Left my desktop sitting on the roof of my car while I drove off
    Had my desktop fall out of my pocket while getting into the car
    Had someone steal a desktop out of my car

    Desktops make a good quick backup because the are not intended to be mobile. A lot of things happen to small items when you start to carry them around everywhere you go. PDA's would not be a good backup for this reason. You backup to the computer, then you back up the data on your computer and you have two backups. If a company is concerned about data loss or lack of administration, specify which folder the information is to be backed up, and then include that folder in the list of things that get covered on the nightly backups.
    • by kryten_nl (863119)

      Had it fallen out of my shirt pocket into a comode
      Forgoten to take it out of the pocket in my shorts before going swimming
      Had to remove a shorting battery because the desktop was in my pocket when the canoe tipped over
      Left my desktop on the table at a restraunt
      Left my desktop sitting on the roof of my car while I drove off
      Had my desktop fall out of my pocket while getting into the car
      Had someone steal a desktop out of my car

      So, I gather you don't go to LAN parties?

  • I would love to have a way to transfer all my contacts to a new phone but NOBODY does this.
    I would even pay as much as $50 to do this.
    I would even pay as much as $25 if they couldn't and gave me a file with the contacts instead.
    But these F@*ke# phone companies are too greedy to offer something this obviously useful.
    • With my phone, if you save to the SIM card, then pop the SIM card into another phone, they're automatically loaded.
    • Sprint will let you do this on some (but not all) of their phones:

      http://support.sprint.com/doc/sp10490.xml?id16=how _do_I_back_up_my_contacts? [sprint.com]

      You have to subscribe to the service. It's currently $2 per month...
    • I do not know what the hell is a problem. All the cellphone I have ever used, I synchronized them to my computer. I haven't used that many cell phones only 5 of them so far (Nokia(2), Eriksson(2) and Handspring). All you need is a data cable and a software. Most of my phones had infrared ports, so I did not even bothered with data cables.

      Why do you need cell phone companies doing this for you? Just do it yourself already.
    • A phone should be able to be connected to a computer via USB, for free. A phone should be able to backup and restore its data to/from a SIM or flash card, in a standard format.

      Having to pay anyone -- let alone the service provider -- to simply copy your own data is ridiculous!

    • This isn't pitched as a heavy-duty corporate solution, but SyncML is supported my most phones today. It is an open protocol that lets you sync addressbook information, notes, bookmarks, etc. with a server (and open source servers like funambol [funambol.com] already exist). There are also sites like Mobical [mobical.net] which offer free SyncML hosting.

      Basically, here's how it works: You set your phone up to sync automatically with the SyncML server every couple days. Then whenever you add, say, a contact, it gets uploaded to the s
    • I just upgraded my pre-historic (well >3 year old) phone for new one. At the Sprint store the clerk asked whether I'd like my old phone book transferred to the new phone. I said yes and she hitched the old phone to a small box (took her a while to find the right cable for my old phone). After a couple of minutes she hooked the new phone to the box ... and tada! all contacts transferred without a hitch.
  • Backups: so easy a caveman could do it?
  • Until carriers do some Mozy-like encryption system that encrypts the data on a phone before shooting up to their servers (not a password, but a true encryption key separate from the username/PW auth mechanism), I would not put my cellphone info on their servers, no matter how secure the carrier's servers are.

    I just don't get what's wrong with the old standbys that suddenly people are supposed to be backing up to their cellphone carrier all of a sudden. ActiveSync and SPB Backup have been working for me for
    • I used SPB Backup on my Audiovox 6700. It did not back up my contacts nor calendar. That was a huge loss, and the company can't explain their software's failure. I can't endorse this product, obviously. Any thoughts as to why it failed? SPB hasn't.
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Friday July 13, 2007 @05:38PM (#19853487)
    cell phone companies would love to kill USB and force you to use there Network for syncing / backups and bill you for the data.
  • I know lots of my friends lose their phones. They always create facebook groups or events named "I lost my phone" and ask all of their friends to give their phone numbers again. (If I wanted to, I could harvest numbers this way.)

    Can't they just learn to back up?
  • Moreover, he adds, PCs are not necessarily more reliable than cell phones.
    Yeah, but the probability they'll both die at once is very slim, and the data that's on the PC can/should be backed up by existing solutions.
  • Automated syncing (i.e. wireless background sync) eliminates user error as a source of problems with data sync. Duh.

    Data on company or vendor servers that are administered and backup up is less likely to be lost due to hardware failure or intrusion than data on individual PCs. Duh.

    Neither wireless nor cabled sync will do a thing to prevent data on a stolen handheld from being misused. Duh.
  • Gartner is telling its corporate customers they should hasten this process by not permitting their employees to sync to their PCs.

    It could as easily have said "We recommend that all corporations upgrade their employees to wireless background sync for its many, many advantages." Why does this stuff always have to be phrased as a prohibition on users?

    TFA didn't even mention the real data security issue -- that users might sync the devices to outside computers -- which forbidding sync software in the office w
  • I tried the "wireless sync" that AT&T/Cingular has. it is so screwed up and messed up my phone that I not only had to delete it but a hard reset on the phone to bring it back to factory default to get rid of the mess it made.

    No thanks. I simply use the exchange push feature on the corperate email server and call it done. Do everything on your desktop and treat the phone as an appliance to access the data and you are all set.
  • 1) Place phone on ground behind rear tire.
    2) Shift car into reverse
    3) ???
    4) PROFIT!

  • Bluetooth + iSync.
  • I don't recall the last time I used USB for backing up my phone.

    I've always used bluetooth for that, since several years ago with my SE t68i, to my current Nokia 3250 (and my wife's N73).

    I guess USB *might* be faster (depending on version), but I don't notice any problem with speed. Perhaps I just don't have as much data as all you guys...or more time or something.

    I use USB for firmware upgrades, not for backup, and these days even firmware upgrades are done over-the-air (inc. wifi) for some phones.
  • Because phone companies

    A) Don't provide either the cables nor even the function or capability for connecting your phone to a USB port and have it be recognizable to the PC.

    B) Price their own network backup services so absurdly high I have never in my life heard of anyone using it.

    C) Have such awful data network speeds and reliability that you're going to spend all day screwing with it. Imagine your phone's non EVDO non 3G browser's performance. Yeah it's THAT bad.

    D) Provide phones that have spotty Bluetooth
  • So I've had a few Windows mobile devices, and of course now an iPhone. Heres what I do to back up my phone.

    1) Set ActiveSync to make a backup on each sync.
    2) Plugin the phone.
    3) Wait
    4) Profit.

    Due to Windows Mobile being what it is, I've restored from that backup on several occasions after hard resets. Takes a few minutes, never lose anything.

    Without complete backups enabled you still shouldn't lose much, just set the sync utility up to sync all of the document formats it knows about, then the only thing yo
  • Problem solved [apple.com].

    When does iPhone sync my contacts and calendar?

    iPhone syncs your contacts and calendar whenever you connect iPhone to your computer.

  • Seriously, there's only the lightest mention of taking measures to encrypt user data prior to any loss. Almost every week now a major data breach is reported, usually via a laptop or backup tape, but why not a smartphone? These are all 'puters, and data needs a policy and toolset everywhere right?

    Personally I can't really think about even leaving the house with such a smartphone unless its been encrypted AND backed up. Then at least the stress is limited to the replacement cost of the phone. Same logic as l
    • Also thought I might mention that while Nokia ships Windows applications with its smartphones, it supports Apple users by supporting Apple's iSync technology. So Apple users don't need to read much in the way of the Nokia manual at all, but just use their online help I guess.

      But of course what I really want is full support on Ubuntu, although at the rate those Canonical folks are going, my wait may be short. How many Linux quirks are left for them to crack? I dig on how they fixed wireless.
  • "there will be 8 million cell phones/smart phones lost this year."
    Please let one of them be an iPhone I pick up. :P

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