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Strategize Your Backups


Don’t wait until it’s too late and your mobile device craps out on you.  Plan for the eventuality like it’s a certainty, and you’ll confidently be up and running again in minutes.  I call it the “wearing your seatbelt” strategy.  It’s so easy to do, and once you get used to it, you don’t even think about it. 


Companies like Handango are now charging for download protection.  Chris Spera of Gear Diary likened it to extortion in this article.  If you pay for software, download it, then subsequently lose it, you must actually pay to download it again.  To “protect” yourself from the extra expense, Handango is offering download protection, which is an extra fee, or insurance, that will make the software available for you again.  That’s nice of them to offer, but you won’t need it. 

Sometimes you find a gem, a true software miracle, and only weeks later you either can’t remember where you found it or you don’t feel like looking through 100 pages of posts at the spectacular Xda Developers Forum – which has happened to me.  I remember reading this article at Pocketables and getting excited about True Vga, but then I spent hours weeding through all the posts.  I don’t want to do that again.

Backups apply to everything.  I remember how I found out Microsoft Excel has an automatic save feature.  About 8 years ago I was working on a spreadsheet.  It has 7 pages and thousands of records in a very precise order and format.  It took many hours to construct.  I was suddenly called away from my office and next thing I knew, I was knee-deep in a new problem.  I returned to my desk a couple hours later and found my computer frozen.  I stared at the screen in utter horror.  I had to reboot and lost everything.  To make sure that never happened again, I enabled auto-save on Excel.  But this won’t be your concern anymore.


If you are like me, you might have 30 or more software programs on your mobile device.  Everything is tweaked and setup just how you want it.  But haven’t we all experienced a catastrophic loss and had to hard reset?  If you said no, then you are either lucky or you haven’t used your device to anywhere near its capacity.  But it’s just a matter of time, so listen up!

Your strategy does NOT start with a good backup program.  Let’s back it up a bit.  Here are your steps:

1. Save all software downloads in a file folder on your computer’s hard drive.  Save the passwords as well.  Make sure your folder is organized.


The screenshot above shows my Downloads folder.  Inside of that folder is a PPC Downloads folder.  Inside of that is a separate folder for each software I download.  Sometimes I even write a note about the software on Wordpad and save it in the folder.  My notes may include the serial number, date I downloaded it, or the download link.  I bet I have more than 60 folders.  You never know when you may want to add an old program back into the rotation.

I also save my passwords in a wallet program.  I use FlexWallet.  I have a folder called PPC Serials where I list all my serial numbers and other information associated with the software.  This comes in handy more than you think.  Sometimes out of nowhere a software program stops working and asks me to register.  Sure, it’s odd, but it happens.  I have no worries.  My serials are a couple clicks away.

I also keep a file in my email for serials, as they are often sent via email.

2. Use a backup program.  I use SPB Backup.  It keeps 3 backups on my microSD card.  It performs a backup every day at 3am.  I have used the restore function once since I bought my HTC Advantage a few months ago.  It was a lifesaver.  So you may think this is all you need, but it is merely one component of your strategy.  You never know when your flash memory card will cease to operate.

3. When downloading new versions of software, save them to the same folders you created for the older versions.  Just rename them if necessary.  By that I mean, sometimes downloads have generic names like download.exe.  Give it a meaningful name such as SPBBackup1.exe.  If you download a new version you can call it SPBBackup2.exe.  This way if there is a conflict with the new software or you just don’t like it, you can revert to the old one.

4. Backup your PPC Downloads folder.  Often.  I use a USB key once every couple weeks to backup the entire folder.  Sometimes I save it to a cd.  I also keep a copy on my network in case my local computer goes down.  What?  Did you call me paranoid?  You’re correct.  I am.  I’ve been burned before.  I don’t want to pay for downloading the same software again, and I don’t want to buy download protection.  And I want to be able to find my software quickly.

That’s it.  Easy, huh?  Once you get into the habit of saving your software and serials, and backing them up, you won’t have to even think about it.  It will become as easy as tying your shoe.  And you can use this strategy for other parts of your computing life.  For instance, I have 3500 songs in iTunes.  Can you imagine what I would feel like if I lost all that music in a hard drive failure?  So I bought a backup hard drive to backup my music.  Plus periodically I save the whole library to DVDs. 

What are your backup strategies?


April 22, 2008 Posted by | Opinions, Software, Windows Mobile | 1 Comment