Monday, April 12

More BlackBerry Shenanigans

Hi there, fictional people in Bloggerland who aren't reading what I write. That's okay, you don't have to be real. I'm pretending you're real in my mind, and it gives me a fluffy, warm feeling in my tummy. That's all one can ask of imaginary friends...er, readers, I think.

Today's blog entry is about how not to lose everything on your BlackBerry. Here's the deal: Your BlackBerry comes with some built in apps. Email, contacts, calendar, text messaging, web browser, etc. You will also have a handful of other things that your wireless provider put there for you.

In BlackBerry parlance, those last ones are called "virtual preloads." What THAT means is that you have an icon on your home screen and it looks as though you have an app loaded, but you DON'T, not really. What you DO have is an icon that knows where to go and download the actual app, the first time you click on that icon. Once the app is downloaded and installed, then clicking on the icon starts the actual app. Despite the fact that these apps had icons on your BlackBerry when you first turned it on, they are still third party apps.

But I digress.

To get back on track...you have built in apps on your BlackBerry. And if all that you ever do is use those apps, you don't have to ever back up anything except for your data. Your data is your emails, your text messages, contacts, calendar, and so forth. Backing those up is simple.
  1. Start the Desktop Manager program.
  2. Connect your BlackBerry to your computer with its USB cable.
  3. Once the computer recognizes the BlackBerry and the Desktop Manager software connects with it, select Backup and Restore on the Desktop Manager main menu.
  4. Click on the "Back up" button under the Backup category, and then tell the program what folder it can use to store the backup file. The backup shouldn't take long.
And that's it! Your data is safely backed up. If you've never downloaded a new app to your phone, then you're all done. Go forth, and worry not for thy data!

Oh, but that's NOT all, is it? You still have a few, some, maybe dozens of third party apps that you've downloaded to your BlackBerry. Sure, you could download them all again after a crash, but that requires an awful lot of time, and you might not even recall where certain apps came from. It would be better, would it not, to back up those third party apps? The procedure for this, however, is a bit more convoluted than backing up the data.

One of the things you will need to know, before you get started with this, is what your BlackBerry's PIN is. This is a unique ID that sets your BlackBerry apart from all others. It will become important, in just a minute. To find this PIN, look at the Desktop Manager main menu AFTER your BlackBerry is connected and recognized. You will see "Device connected (PIN):" followed by the model of your BlackBerry and the PIN. Write down that series of letters and numbers, so you can recognize them when you see them again.

Okay, let's get started. For this backup, you must use the Device Switch Wizard. (I'm picturing the mixture of surprise and confusion on your faces right now. It's kinda cool. I wish you could see it from my end. I'd draw a picture, but I suck at art.) There is a solid reason here, though. BlackBerry does not give you a tool for backing up your third party apps, but if you WERE going to switch to another model of BlackBerry, you would want your third party apps to move with you, correct? So the process of switching devices needs to be able to copy third party apps.

Return to the Desktop Manager main menu, if you're not there already. Then choose Device Switch Wizard.
  1. Under "Switch BlackBerry devices," click Start.
  2. Under Options, CLEAR the check mark for "Device data and options," LEAVE the check mark for "Third-party applications," and CLEAR the check mark for "Update the software on my device."
  3. Click Next. The Device Switch Wizard will run, copying all your third party applications.
  4. When it reaches the point where it asks you to connect your new device, STOP.
  5. Click on the Start button and in the "Search programs and files" box, enter %temp% and press Enter. (This assumes you're running Windows. If you're running a Mac, that's great for you, but I don't know how to do this on Mac OS, sorry.)
  6. This should open a folder view of your temporary files folder, no matter where that sucker happens to be. Inside, you should see a folder that is named with your BlackBerry's PIN.
  7. COPY that folder (do NOT move it) to another place on your hard drive. I happen to put mine in my Downloads folder.
  8. This step is important. RENAME the folder that you copied. If you don't, you won't get a complete copy of all third party applications when you do this again in the future.

And that's it. Told you it was more complicated, right?

In the event of a crash now, you will reload your device software in the normal manner. That is, you will click on the Application Loader at the main menu, then click Start under "Update Software." Once that's done, you need to add back your third party applications.

Click Start under "Add / Remove Applications." You'll see some progress bars flash about, and eventually it will stop and show you a list of the applications you can add to or remove from your device. To reload those third party apps, click the Browse... button. Navigate to the backup folder you renamed at the end of the procedure above. In it, you should find a file with a filename matching your BlackBerry's PIN and an extension of ALX. Double click on that file, and you should be returned to the Application Loader screen, where you will now have all your third party applications available for selecting, in addition to those applications that came with the device.

It's not as hard as it might sound. It IS a little tricky to do, but it does work, and it's the only way to protect yourself against losing those third party applications.

Good luck!

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