Backing Up Cell Phone Data

How often do you back up the data on your cell phone? If you have a smartphone, Blackberry or Treo type phone, your data, at least some of it, is backed up every time you synchronize your device with your computer. If your cell phone is just a cell phone, chances are the data hasn’t been backed up recently, if at all.


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The traditional method of backing up the data on a cell phone is to do it manually. In other words, typing or writing the information from the cell phone into an address book, contact list, or rolodex, computerized or otherwise. This is time consuming and prone to errors. So, of course, individuals relying on this method don’t do it as often as they probably should and are prone to panic at the very thought of losing or critically damaging their cell phones.

Fortunately, as cell phones have become more complex and the data they contain more vital to not just to our personal lives but also to our businesses, new methods have been developed to make it easier and more convenient to back up the data on your cell phone. Depending on the model and brand of cell phone being used, individuals can now choose between a variety of hardware and software solutions to help them back up and transfer their data.

Hardware Solutions

Individuals having GSM cell phones with a SIM card may find the Clipper Gear SIM Saver Backup and Copy Unit an affordable and easy way to backup and copy their phone book data. This is a compact, lightweight device has an LCD display, longer battery life and is capable of saving both phone book and SMS data. It works with all types of SIMs, including 64kb, 32kb and 16kb, as well as R-UIM (Removable User Identity Module) cards used in CDMA type phones. TravelInsider.com reports that it takes 15-30 seconds to back up data and slightly longer to restore data. The advantage of the Clipper Gear SIM Saver is that it doesn’t require a computer and so can be stored separately from both. The disadvantage is that it appears data can only be restored to another SIM card. The SIM Saver retails for $19.95 at TravelInsider.com.

Another hardware solution is CellStick from Spark Technology. Users can download phone book content into this little device, which is the cell phone’s equivalent of a USB memory stick. In fact, since one side of the device is a USB connection, it can be used to transfer contacts from cell phone to PC or vice versa. CellStick comes with CellStick Central software that allows contacts to be added, deleted and edited, using a full-sized PC keyboard. Size is the big advantage and disadvantage to this solution – it easily fits into a pocket or purse; of course that also means it can be easy to misplace. Another advantage, particularly for laptop users, is that CellStick connects directly to both a cell phone and a laptop without a long cable. CellStick retails for $39.99 direct from Spark Technology at www.sparktech.com.

Software Solutions

This is something of a misnomer, since some hardware is necessary to permit cell phones and computers to communicate with each other. Most software solutions are installed on a PC, then the PC and cell phone are connected using a phone specific USB cable. Some of the software may also be phone-specific or restricted to certain contact management applications, so be sure to verify compatibility before purchasing. Three popular solutions are:

  • DataPilot Software - this software enables users to manage cell phone content from any PC. You can synchronize cell phones contacts to Outlook, Outlook Express, and Palm OS. Your calendar and e-mail can also be synchronized with Outlook. Price: $34.95 at www.susteen.com.

  • SnapSync Software – this solution allows users to enter and edit phonebook data between cell phones and Outlook or Outlook Express. This solution is compatible with more than 270 cell phone models. Price: $29.99 at www.futuredial.com.

  • Intellisync Handheld Edition – this is actually more of a PDA solution than a cell phone solution. It requires Palm OS or Windows Mobile but will synchronize handheld organizer data with Outlook, Outlook Express, Lotus Notes and Organizer, Novell Groupwise, ACT! and others (full disclosure here, this is the solution I use, primarily because it came free with my smartphone and I’ve seen no reason to change). Intellisync was recently acquired by Nokia. Price: $69.95 at www.sync.com.

As anyone who has ever lost a cell phone can testify, backing up the data on your phone is not only a good idea, it’s necessary. In addition, individuals who travel frequently, may wish to group contacts and data so that less space is used on their cell phone or handheld and what is available is relevant to the current location.

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