The hassle of switching phones

I chop and change between phones more frequently than the average person, and what I’ve noticed is that as phones become “smarter”, the chore of copying data to the new one becomes ever more complex, especially if they run different operating systems.

The hassle of switching phones

I’ve actually become quite lazy and transfer music and photos by swapping microSD cards (except on the iPhone, grrrr).

As phones become “smarter”, the chore of copying data to the new one becomes ever more complex

For other data such as email addresses and phone numbers I rely on the new phone being able to sync with my Exchange mailbox, which works in most cases.

If Exchange Sync proves a problem then I just transfer my phone numbers by copying them to the SIM in the old phone, put it in the new phone and copy them to internal memory.

I get only basic name and phone numbers that way, of course, but I rarely consult email addresses from contacts anyway.

Although transferring between different phone brands can be a pain, it’s usually easier between the same vendors, and models and OSes.

Typically, the supplied sync software will spot that a different phone has been connected and just restore your data automatically. Some manufacturers even provide a fully fledged “Switch device” function in their desktop application.

BlackBerry sync

One such vendor is RIM, whose BlackBerry Desktop Manager asks you to connect your old phone, takes a backup of everything it can – contacts, messages, tasks, notes, apps and even your settings and personalisation – then restores everything when you connect the new phone.

It works brilliantly in most cases: occasionally, you’ll find certain databases won’t be transferred during the device switch, especially with Enterprise devices connected to a BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server).

I’ve seen this happen with BlackBerry Messenger contacts, browser bookmarks and even the main contacts database, and it’s occurred when merely upgrading the OS on the same phone.

This problem appears to stem from information that’s created for wireless synchronisation of the device: in some cases, the fact that wireless sync is enabled prevents PC-based backup and restore from doing its stuff.

It’s actually the restore that fails since it’s unable to update an already-open info store. A peek into RIM’s BlackBerry knowledge base tells you the problem is recognised but that no solution is available – but fear not, there’s a way around this, albeit a bit of a hack!

What you have to do is navigate through the backup and restore facility using the Desktop Manager, select the Advanced option and then open a recent full backup (the latest and biggest IPD file), where you’ll see the message “Databases that are unavailable in the list have been configured for wireless synchronisation or wireless backup and are read-only. You cannot restore or clear them.”

Ignore it and from the BlackBerry Home Screen go through Options | Advanced Options | Service Book to find an option called Desktop [SYNC]. Press the menu key and hit delete (don’t worry – we’ll undelete it later).

A battery-pull cold reboot on a BlackBerry usually gives you time to listen to Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle and have dinner

Head back to Desktop Manager and hit the refresh button, and you should see previously greyed-out databases can now be restored.

Once that’s done, head back to the Service Book screen, press the menu key and select Undelete. I normally perform a battery pull at this stage just to be sure, but once the device has rebooted everything should be working fine, including wireless synchronisation.

Incidentally, a battery-pull cold reboot on a BlackBerry usually gives you time to listen to Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle and have dinner.

I yearn for the pre-smartphone days when you shoved a battery into your phone and by the time you’d turned it back over it was showing four bars of signal.

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