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How to Backup Your Smart Phone

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the smartness-of-user-not-guaranteed dept.

85

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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85 comments

yeah thats just want i want (3, Insightful)

OutOnARock (935713) | about 7 years ago | (#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...."

Gay... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19853357)

...I just goatseed [goatse.cx] all over your face

Hey mods!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19853577)

Mod the parent down. I just happen to be gay and this post *just so offended me*

Thanksssss

Re:yeah thats just want i want (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 7 years ago | (#19857475)

Why not webhosts have been doing it for years

~Dan

Question is .. (1)

garry_g (106621) | about 7 years ago | (#19859041)

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]

8 million cell phones/smart phones lost this year. (1)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#19853097)

Wow! That's a lot of free upgrades....uh. insurance claims...uh.. unlucky consumers!

blacks ftw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19853519)

we have your women. soon we will have the white house.

it's our time now.

blacks ftfw.

No longer an issue (2, Interesting)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | about 7 years ago | (#19853107)

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.

Re:No longer an issue (3, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | about 7 years ago | (#19853383)

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.

Re:No longer an issue (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | about 7 years ago | (#19858001)

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?

Re:No longer an issue (1)

lukas84 (912874) | about 7 years ago | (#19858475)

Use an Hosted Exchange offer, for example?

iSync partial solution (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 7 years ago | (#19867041)

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

That's fine if you only need to back up the kinds of data that iSync knows about. I had to spring for Missing Sync to get a backup of my Treo.

Re:No longer an issue (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 7 years ago | (#19867071)

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.

Re:No longer an issue (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 7 years ago | (#19872785)

Is that gigabits or tribblebytes?

Could someone restore the article? (3, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | about 7 years ago | (#19853111)

From a backup?

Blame the users (3, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | about 7 years ago | (#19853149)

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:Blame the users (2, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | about 7 years ago | (#19853243)

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 voluntarily back up their work PC's, ipso facto, does not work, then it's not a reliable system and we shouldn't avoid saying so just to avoid hurting people's feelings.

Re:Blame the users (2, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 7 years ago | (#19853443)

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, Retrospect was pretty good for this).

Maybe the Iron Triangle of IT is GoodCheapConstrain the User.

With regard to the article, it's solution is no better, it proposes several carrier-based backup plans that lock all your data up on Sprint's servers-- \sarcastic{which I'm sure are SO much safer than the average corporate desktop, nobody would ever think of cracking a box with a 10 million business names, tel numbers and addresses on it.}

I had to exchange my iPhone yesterday for a new one (the touch screen had become numb in a section after a week, a very painless process BTW). When I brought the new one back from the store, iTunes restored it UTTERLY: when the phone came up, the application I had up before I synced was in focus, all of my applications were in even the same modes they had been in when I synced it, down to the route I had showing in Google Maps, plus my history. My old Treo, though not this detailed, would still have my photos, call logs, and applications all restored, and with the associated preferences and settings restored. I just don't see a cell carrier providing that level of support for individual devices.

Re:Blame the users (2, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 7 years ago | (#19853793)

...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), then it's not too much of an expense or headache.

I agree perfectly that the article completely overlooks the abuse potentials (wot!? You're leaving us for XYZ phone company? Well, we're sorry, but your data stays here!)

Crackberries already have facilities to sync email and contact/calendar/etc info wirelessly... wouldn't take much to extrapolate the concept to other non-RIM situations, would it? At least that way the corp keeps control of the original data (like they would w/ all the data passing through their Exchange box, for instance).

/P

Re:Blame the users (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 7 years ago | (#19854005)

"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.

Re:Blame the users (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 7 years ago | (#19854253)

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 encrypting their information with personal passwords). When all the data's back in the server room you can impose much tighter physical security on it, since you just have to police the rack, instead of having to police the whole building, making sure keys don't get copied, people don't leave their doors open, etc.

Re:Blame the users (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 7 years ago | (#19856107)

"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, Alice simply sits at Bob's desk and turns his computer on."

1) Bob's computer is on his office beyond a locked door.
2) When Alice turns on Bob's computer she is asked for a BIOS password.
3) When Bob's computer is totally powered on it asks Alice for Bob's login and password.
4) No, sorry: Bob's computer won't boot up from CD unless you know the magic BIOS password.

Of course this environment is breakeable but at least is not *trivially* breakeable as is your Linux' NFS plus NIS one.

Re:Blame the users (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 7 years ago | (#19854153)

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 the abuse potentials (wot!? You're leaving us for XYZ phone company? Well, we're sorry, but your data stays here!)

The article might be pointed at very big businesses, though the really salient point is "USB syncing will die". TFA regards mobile backup data a lot like inventory, and the carrier's servers like a warehouse. A big company can switch warehouses if the warehouse gets to expensive or does things the big company doesn't like, and so it may go for their mobile carriers. For SOHO and human beings, however, the economics are such that you can't just "switch," and large businesses are able to throw their weight around with carriers when the carriers try to pull crap with contact-data-lockin.

Crackberries already have facilities to sync email and contact/calendar/etc info wirelessly [...]

As does Windows Mobile (whatever that exactly is), and we may (just may) see something OSS when the a few people starting developing for OpenMoko, if we ever start seeing phones that support it. My Treo allegedly offered this OTA thru the GPRS, but you had to have some special server at the other end. Does anyone know if Nokia's do OTA syncing, or do you need Good or something? iPhones don't OTA sync as yet, but Apple is rolling out new server software later this year, which will offer most Exchange features using IMAP, LDAP and CalDAV.

Re:Blame the users (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19853957)

"If the user's home directories are kept on a share"

Please provide examples of *tested* (as in "I can tell I saw it in action at...") idiot-proof "home directories are kept on a share" deployments for laptop and mobile devices. Then we'll continue dialog.

Re:Blame the users (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 7 years ago | (#19854297)

I thought we were talking about the backup images of the mobile device, not the mobile device itself. TFA criticizes security of backups on desktops of mobile devices, not to security of the mobile devices.

Re:Blame the users (1)

The One and Only (691315) | about 7 years ago | (#19854093)

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, you've successfully answered my point and the point of the grandparent post--the responsibility is taken off the user's shoulders so they won't be blamed, and we've routed around the behavior of the user that exists regardless of any "blame" or other personal judgment we apply after the fact.

Re:Blame the users (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 7 years ago | (#19854365)

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 doctor treating a hypothetical disease. The two cures are (1) one surgery or (2) having the patient take a cheap pill every 12 hours for the rest of their life. The pill solution might be a lot less expensive, but you run into issues with patient compliance.

Re:Blame the users (1)

The One and Only (691315) | about 7 years ago | (#19854405)

Constraint isn't always necessary, and I agree the SAN solution bypasses the user's poor backup behaviors more than it constrains them.

Re:Blame the users (2, Insightful)

ryanov (193048) | about 7 years ago | (#19853513)

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.

Re:Blame the users (1)

lelitsch (31136) | about 7 years ago | (#19853895)

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:Blame the users (2, Insightful)

KillerCow (213458) | about 7 years ago | (#19853295)

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!"

Re:Blame the users (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 7 years ago | (#19853817)

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

Re:Blame the users (1)

Umuri (897961) | about 7 years ago | (#19853381)

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:Blame the users (2, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | about 7 years ago | (#19853405)

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:Blame the users (2, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 7 years ago | (#19853617)

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 use to play on myspace is also protected. Yes, it is a hassle that we don't allow certain things on our network.. (good luck trying to access our main network from the wireless, which is physically separate from the other networks..) Yes, its an inconvenience for some, but in order to do the greater good (protect the company) we have to...

Just look at the VA stolen laptop last year.. One employee was careless and took things home he shouldn't have, the laptop got stolen, and how much time and money did the VA have to spend fixing that little goof, along with the PR issues.. While many will argue that the laptop should have been secured, and encrypted, and had a big red button that will cause it to self destruct, the simpler, much more cost effective solution for many companies is to say "no."

I think that many of these problems would be solved if the users had better communication with IT.. One of my Pet Peeves is users coming in with a solution, instead of a problem.. IE, "We need X", instead of saying "We would like to something that will enable use to do Y because of Z". Then we can point them to several different ways to accomplish Y that will work within our requirements..

Re:Blame the users (1)

vic-traill (1038742) | about 7 years ago | (#19853757)

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 device. The exceptions have been:

- the ability to use an SD card plus palm backup s/w on my combined palm/cell phone to run a scheduled nightly, which creates a backup for easy and fast restoration. Still doesn't *necessarily* address the need to port my addressbook to a new device when this one dies, depending on the device I'm migrating to.
- my BlackBerry auto syncs in near real time both my mail and my contacts. Changes are sync'd bi-directionally. Got a new Blackberry? Wipe the old one (enter the password 10 times incorrectly and it's cleaned), and point the new one at your account on the enterprise server - voila! In TFA, this is what the vice president of mobile computing at Gartner Inc says we all should be headed to anyway. I say he's dead on.

I can also honestly say that, this time as an IT guy trying to get users to use USB-connected desktop sync'ing s/w for backups and restorations, that using the crappy residential-user focused software to perform these functions in the enterprise is a dead-end proposition for all parties involved. And companies balk at buying an enterprise version of such s/w ('they get the s/w they need with the device, don't they?') and users won't buy an enterprise version license ('why can't I use the s/w that came with the device?'). It's a poor show all around.

Haven't had to think about it for even a minute since we bought a BB Enterprise server and restricted support to BB's, gaining the inherent bi-directional sync. Of course this is a proprietary h/w and s/w solution, which chaps my ass as a user, but you have to draw the line somewhere in the enterprise.

Re:Blame the users (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 7 years ago | (#19856615)

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

For now at least. But we machines are working to change that, meatsack.

Re:Blame the users (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about 7 years ago | (#19857833)

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 worst part is, so often the 'basics' are not covered. Modern buisiness users are highly-mobile and require secure communications and backups - inclusing for their personal (which are often also company-issued) devices. As one of the other posts has pointed out, this is not that hard to do. IMHO, it's rarely done well.

Finally, as has also been said here many times, the key to 'safe' user practices is education, education, education...

well now! (1)

dominious (1077089) | about 7 years ago | (#19853155)

if it was smart enough it should backup itself!

of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19853515)

That is what my iPhone does. :)

soution: bitpim (4, Informative)

Tmack (593755) | about 7 years ago | (#19853213)

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

soution: to what problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19853271)

You know I'm not certain what the articles complaint really is. I have a Samsung SPH-i300 and all I have to do is drop it into the cradle and press the sync button. Everything gets backed up, and most corporate computers are likewise backed up.

Re:solution: to what problem? (1)

Tmack (593755) | about 7 years ago | (#19853473)

You know I'm not certain what the articles complaint really is. I have a Samsung SPH-i300 and all I have to do is drop it into the cradle and press the sync button. Everything gets backed up, and most corporate computers are likewise backed up.

Is that after installing the software for the phone? Was that software windoze only by chance? BitPim, being OSS, will run on most platforms, and explicitly claims Windows, Linux and OSX compatibility. The stuff for my phone required a "computer link" type kit (a usb cable and a craptastic CD of windoze only software) from Sprint for the low-low price of about $100. Seeing as you can buy the usb cable on ebay for about $10, using bitpim instead of purchasing overpriced crapy vendor software just made sense to me. Just because your phone sync's easily doesnt mean everyone else's does. Yes, some you can take out the sd card with all the data and just copy it off, some come with fancy software to backup your data (to a proprietary format sometimes, and only if you run Windoze, mac users are typically SOL), some come with nothing but a catalog of how much you can pay to get access to the other features, like connecting via USB. BitPim lets you download your phones stuff into CSV formats, and can also upload them in most cases, as well as ringtones, pictures, etc., and works great with my phone from my powerbook.

Tm

Re:soution: bitpim (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 7 years ago | (#19853671)

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 event locations when syncing with Palm Desktop in Windows (it instead puts the location in the "notes" field of the event), syncing anything with iSync fails to preserve categories, etc.

Re:soution: bitpim (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | about 7 years ago | (#19853773)

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 it into any phone. So if I backed up my Moto flip-phone, and my daughter turned it into a caterpillar house (again...) and I replaced it with a Nokia, I could load my backup and at least have my phone list.

Re:soution: bitpim (1)

Tmack (593755) | about 7 years ago | (#19853995)

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

Re:soution: bitpim (1)

chrb (1083577) | about 7 years ago | (#19853955)

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

Contacts backup on my US Cellular phone (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about 7 years ago | (#19853215)

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 synchronize calendar/scheduler data or anything else in the phone - but the contact names and numbers are probably the most critical parts for me anyway.

Sounds like a metaphysical question. (1)

caffiend666 (598633) | about 7 years ago | (#19853245)

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 down.

Seriously though, backing up smartphones is annoying. Took me two years to get to the point I could reliably backup my Treo on Fedora 4. Would love to sort out a way that my Treo can back itself up via SCP to my home computer every X days over the cellular network....

My backup plan: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19853265)

I just toss my phone into the back of my station wagon.

Fun with Vendor Lock-In Techniques (4, Interesting)

Adambomb (118938) | about 7 years ago | (#19853289)

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.

More reliable than humans? (2, Informative)

Alchemar (720449) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:More reliable than humans? (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | about 7 years ago | (#19857615)

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?

Too bad phone companies do not offer this service! (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 7 years ago | (#19853345)

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.

Re:Too bad phone companies do not offer this servi (1)

LordEd (840443) | about 7 years ago | (#19853453)

With my phone, if you save to the SIM card, then pop the SIM card into another phone, they're automatically loaded.

Re:Too bad phone companies do not offer this servi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19853485)

That's GSM for you. CDMA should go away.

But besides that, as to the GP, many cell providers already DO this service, for free even.

Re:Too bad phone companies do not offer this servi (1)

profplump (309017) | about 7 years ago | (#19854289)

That's GSM for you, if you want the one-number-per-contact, no-data-other-than-phone address book that you can write to any GSM SIM I've ever had. I have waaaay too many contacts to deal with a system like that.

Re:Too bad phone companies do not offer this servi (1)

lsappserver (915135) | about 7 years ago | (#19853629)

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.

Re:Too bad phone companies do not offer this servi (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 7 years ago | (#19853707)

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!

SyncML is very handy today (1)

Ben Escoto (446292) | about 7 years ago | (#19855111)

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 server. If you lose your phone or just upgrade, you point your new phone at the server and sync to recover your contacts. The protocol only sends updates, so it is relatively quick and bandwidth friendly. The sync is bidirectional, so you can also add contacts to your phone from your web browser (if your syncml server has a web interface).

Backing up using SIM cards is pretty inconvenient by comparison. You have to manually swap out the SIM whenever you backup, and the SIM protocol is very basic (it can only hold one number per name I believe).

Sprint does (1)

aegl (1041528) | about 7 years ago | (#19856413)

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.

Geico Caveman (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 7 years ago | (#19853435)

Backups: so easy a caveman could do it?

ActiveSync and SPB backup for me (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 7 years ago | (#19853455)

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 a while now, allowing me to restore data across multiple flashes of my PocketPC. If plugging into a USB cable is such a hassle, ActiveSync does work with Bluetooth.

If I wanted Sidekick-like backup services, I'd buy a Sidekick. For the security of the stuff on my phone, I much rather pack my own parachute.

Re:ActiveSync and SPB backup for me (1)

grandgeekness (1126593) | about 7 years ago | (#19895033)

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.

cell phone companies would love to kill USB....... (2, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 7 years ago | (#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.

Facebook groups (1)

kabloom (755503) | about 7 years ago | (#19853503)

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?

PCs and Cell phones (1)

kabloom (755503) | about 7 years ago | (#19853539)

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.

news flash: automation improves reliability (1)

PMuse (320639) | about 7 years ago | (#19853645)

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.

Finally email! (1)

Lewrker (749844) | about 7 years ago | (#19853745)

The safest protocols known to mankind combined for your backing up experience!

B positive (1)

PMuse (320639) | about 7 years ago | (#19853749)

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 won't solve.

Yeah, Right. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 years ago | (#19854505)

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.

How to backup your smart phone in four easy steps (1)

Megane (129182) | about 7 years ago | (#19854575)

1) Place phone on ground behind rear tire.
2) Shift car into reverse
3) ???
4) PROFIT!

It's a solved problem for me (1)

metamatic (202216) | about 7 years ago | (#19854853)

Bluetooth + iSync.

USB? Seriously? (1)

dwater (72834) | about 7 years ago | (#19855023)

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.

Is this a sponsored link? (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 7 years ago | (#19855605)

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 features but the only phones that actually support the BT Profiles for data transfer are the highest end phones with MP3 players or PDA. My Samsung A640 phone form Sprint supports BT vCard profiles ONLY and it's only PUSH to the phone not the other way.

"Backup" is not a verb, damn it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19855655)

Get a clue. Spelling matters.

Re:"Backup" is not a verb, damn it! (1)

Principal Skinner (56702) | about 7 years ago | (#19873341)

Spelling matters.

Well, it's not technically spelling, but I know where you're coming from. However, I've decided to give up on this one. "Backup" is a verb. Backup, [one] backups, backupping, backupped, I'm using 'em all! That's my stance, and I've got plenty of real-world examples to backup it!

Its hard to backup a SMART phone? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 7 years ago | (#19856011)

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 you're going to lose is the crappy little games you installed and emulators. Contacts, Notes, Events, and mail are stored on your PC anyway.

If you're using an iPhone, iTunes syncs ALL the data on the phone since you can't do anything it doesn't already know about.

I've not used a PalmOS device in years, it wasn't the greatest at the time and could be worse now, but I can't see how anyone can say its hard to use palm desktop to sync your contacts, events, and notes, as well as backup the 'databases' on the device.

All of the above do this, automatically, when plugged into the sync cradle/cable ... which ... also is the charger. Since you have to charge your phone, I can't understand why this is a problem.

I say, if you're having issues backing up your 'Smart' phone, then its not really all that smart. And for the record, a Razr is not a smart phone. Just because it stores phone numbers and has a calculator does not mean its a 'smart' phone.

If you don't own a smart phone and are upset because you can't back it up, stuff it and buy a product that you can do what you want with it. Having your provider store MY phone number on their servers and selling it to others because you've given them a nice place to collect names, numbers, and addresses for all your friends is not exactly real bright either.

Buy an iPhone (1)

kybred (795293) | about 7 years ago | (#19856031)

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.

Ummm, what about encrypting this mobile data? (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 7 years ago | (#19856527)

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 laptops, of course.

Here's a link to the full text of the article [computerworld.com] .

To reinforce my point, there's even a link to the related story of Paris Hilton having her address book published over the internet [computerworld.com] .

FWIW, I just bought a Nokia N95, and it comes with a good chunk of Windows software for syncing (to Outlook or Lotus Notes), plus backup. But I've been reading up on firmware updates, etc. via forums, and apparently the Nokia backup application is really a misnomer, because following a firmware update, (where you'll lose all your settings, etc.) if you try to 'restore' you'll restore old bugs, etc., and you are advised only to reinstall everything fresh again at that point, (but you can still easily *sync* contacts, etc., so the pain is much lighter than it seems).

p.s. My main concern about the Nokia N95 was how useful the GPS would be, especially without a car, as I don't drive and in-fact use a lot of bicycle-only roads here in Holland, ...and I was skeptical about the purchase. Well I've only had a chance to really field test the GPS once, but it worked, and I was amazed. Also no battery issues while active GPS tracking, although I wasn't out for very much more than an hour (but the phone was in use all day). But still, I found my way using only the phone, on curvey and unintuitive bike paths around all kinds of bodies of water in my way.

The new firmware, which I didn't test, adds support for assisted-GPS, which gains accuracy using cell tower info. But I don't have any carrier, I only use 802.11, and from what I've read, A-GPS only works with a data contract like HSDPA (and its cell-towers for accuracy) which is in-use on the Netherlands.

Nokia N95 also supports Apple's iSync on the Mac (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 7 years ago | (#19856751)

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.

Gartner pimps for cell phone providers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19856763)

Excuse me? $199/month for Sprint to back up my cell phone? Do I at least get a free blowjob with that too? No?

My iPhone backs itself up every time I plug it into my laptop. For free.

If Gartner thinks backing up to a personal computer isn't good enough, they're just pimping for the scumsucking cell providers.

Please please please (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | about 7 years ago | (#19858489)

"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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