Been having problems with my Live Tiles acting pretty “dead” lately and tried to work through it by Dev unlocking my phone yesterday and doing some investigating. Decided that the only solution (actually it wasn’t) was to do a factory reset. Did a bunch of pre-planning, recording as many links and settings from third party apps as I could and then pressed that fateful “reset your phone” button around 10:00 this morning.

While I knew it was going to be easier than my old WM hard reset days, it did turn out to take much longer than expected. Actually about 6 hours, which would be a little less than half the time it typically took me with WM6.1/6.5, but still not something I would look forward to or wish on anyone. My primary problem is I like apps. All kinds of apps. I thought the Marketplace (and Zune) part of the process was going to be easy, but I was mistaken. Here is a breakdown of what I had to deal with and what you can expect.

Contacts, Mail, Windows Live ID – This part of the process went smooth as silk. After resetting which only took about 2 minutes, I entered my Live ID and mail/contacts started syncing up immediately. Setup my other two mail accounts and changed preferences on all three. Had some trouble logging into Facebook initially, but it worked on the second try. One positive note; all of the contacts that I had manually associated with a photo (not contacts in Facebook) all got their pictures back, even though those photo images don’t appear in Windows Live. I was pleasantly surprised. If you only have a few apps on your phone and don’t sync anything with Zune you would probably be about done at this point. Not so for me. Total time: 15 minutes

Zune Music, Photos & Video – I expected as soon as I plugged my phone into my PC and entered my old device name, everything that I had previously synced with my phone would sync up. Wrong. Not sure about you, but I don’t sync every drop of data in the My Music, Pictures & Videos folders with my phone. If I did, I would need a much larger SD card. So I keep all my sync options set to “Items I Choose”. As as result, I think Zune decided not to sync anything, even though I had hundreds of items “flagged” as synced previously. So that sort of sucked. I had to sort through my videos, which Zune does not display in folders, my photo folders and then go down my list of music and decide what to sync. One big downer is that when I resynced my phone, the My Pictures\Zune\FromHTCSurround1\CameraRoll & Saved Pictures folders on my desktop were deleted so I lost “all” my photos and videos from my phone. I never thought to backup that folder before resyncing, expecting it to repopulate like the rest of the media. Fortunately I had a PC backup a few weeks old that restored about 80% of the stuff I lost, but be sure to backup the Zune folder before factory resetting. Total time: 45 minutes

Apps – This was a big disappointment. Sometime during my Zune sync a bunch of apps did reinstall in the background, but only about 25-30% overall. Guess I read somewhere that apps purchased from the desktop will “not” automatically reinstall. Only apps that you purchased through the phone will reload. Wish I had known that on November 8th, when I started purchasing. Overall, 47 apps auto-installed, 14 of which I had previously uninstalled so first I had to sort through all that mess before starting my ordeal of finding and installing another 109 apps and games. And that does not include the 20 I decided to leave off this time around and another 5 that are MIA. Being anal as I am, I keep lists of all my app downloads in OneNote, including; app name, cost, push or pull (that’s new) and developer. One list for current apps and another for deleted apps. This is a bunch easier than trying to read the list in Zune which is not sorted or printable. Much easier to manage 190 apps on paper with a red pen. Really glad I found that Marketplace trick last week, adding “app” or “application” to the end of an app title search or I would still be searching and downloading. Marketplace only froze up twice in 2+ hours. I did run into 5 apps that have completely disappeared from Marketplace. I searched by name and developer, but they are gone. And two of them were paid apps. If they were renamed they should still have the same developer, right? Don’t know where to file that complaint.  Total time (organize list and install apps/games): 2 hours, 45 minutes

UPDATE: Whoops: Just found two of the apps that auto-loaded after my factory reset are the TRIAL version, although I purchased the apps long ago. Further inspection revealed five additional apps that were running the TRIAL although there was no indication. Reinstalled paid version so no big deal, but this is not a good thing. Come on Microsoft, get it right.

Logins / Passwords / Settings / Links – Next step was to go through each app and enter login/password information as needed, modify a small handful of settings and reenter links for; Weave, IMG News Reader, Resco Radio, iHeartRadio and Internet Explorer. Also reentered a thankfully small list of phone/messaging/email shortcuts in Favorites Hub. Additionally, I repinned the 46 tiles I have on my Start screen. I recorded all this info a couple days ago in OneNote, preparing for what I knew was coming. Saves a lot of time actually, guessing about how things were setup. Had my fingers crossed when I opened SkyWallet and waited for it to sync with my password file that the app stores on my SkyDrive. I had no way to backup this encrypted info and if SkyWallet screwed up like my photos I was in trouble. But after a few seconds everything was there. Happy day. I wish every app that collects significant data would follow this model and provide a method to sync with SkyDrive. That would really be useful. Maybe Microsoft could do that with IE. BTW, my OneNote also synced up without any issues. Total time: 2 hours

Conclusion – I was disappointed with the way Zune did not sync my media back to my reset phone as I had expected. Will need to do a bit more research, but may have to make custom folders just for Zune sync so I can direct it to “Sync All”. That could save some time. The whole app download thing was also a bummer. Actually the old WM method of loading CAB files from my storage card was easier and faster. Don’t understand why Microsoft can’t reinstall everything that has been purchased. Or better yet, give me an opportunity to check off the apps I no longer want to download. I thought I was well prepared but did miss/lose a few things. Bottom line, factory resets are never fun. If you have a 98% stock phone I suppose you can get back up and running in much less than an hour, depending on your Zune sync. But if you want to play with a good handful of those 12,000+ apps in the Marketplace, plan on spending more time than you expected. Oh, BTW all of my Live Tiles are working perfectly, but that’s a post for another day. 


  1. I’ll agree on the app reinstall part. That’s just not that friendly. There are apps I tried and removed and don’t want to use. I can’t choose to easily re-install through the Zune client, I definitely can’t choose to re-install an app just by browsing to it and installing – that’s not supported.

    I did not know about the part where hard-resetting a device could cause all of the pics/videos tied to it to be removed. Guess I’ll be checking that setting and making sure we’re backing those up appropriately. I appreciate the warning on that.

    I had just uninstalled a bunch of apps prior to installing NoDo, but didn’t have nearly as many from which to choose and re-install. All of my pics/videos were backed up so I should be good there. Thanks for the writeup and hoping someone @ MS is reading so we can get a better management experience if/when we need it.

  2. The quickest fix… Switch to android lol… I have flashed cyanogen nightly’s each and ever night since about last june (yes, I love being on the bleeding edge) completely wiping my phone each night and with my own custom update zips and androids ability to sync my contacts,apps,email,etc.. it take me about 15-20 minutes counting flashing and boot times to get my fully individualized and customized phone back and thats with all of my own personal app icons, status bar icons and personal theme.. I was a hardcore WM and NRGZ rom guy on a TouchPro & TP2 before grudgingly converting (I really didn’t want to) and I can’t even begin to tell you how much better android is.. My girlfriend has an I4 and my roommate has windowsphone and neither comes anywhere close and both regret there decisions.. but to each his own.. so goodluck ;)

  3. Zune Music, Photos, Videos: When you reset your phone, Zune no longer recognizes your device as “the same phone as usual so sync what I’ve been instructed to sync before”. It becomes a brand new device to Zune, which means that you have to set up whatever you sync’d with your “previous device” with your “new device”. This is why Zune did not sync anything and you had to set that up all over again, and it’s been that way since Zune began (and many other products follow this behavior as well). As for photos, set it up so that it copies all the photos to your computer when it syncs (and make sure it syncs the original resolution as well), and now you have an automatic backup. If you reset again, your photos will stay on the computer and any new photos you take will be added to the PC photos and the phone shouldn’t touch the photos from the previous device.

    Logins, Passwords, Settings, Links: May I recommend Google Reader? Use a Google Reader account to manage your news feeds, and download one of the great apps from the marketplace (like Wonder Reader) to read those feeds. Next time you reset, you just login with your Google Reader account to your newsreader and you continue where you last left off.

    Conclusion: You don’t have to make a folder. Make a playlist instead. Then you can add whatever music you want to sync, and next time, just right click on the playlist and sync it and it will sync the music in that playlist. You do have a make a folder (as I have) for photos though. I have a specific folder for photos that I want to sync to Zune and I just keep that folder updated with whatever I want, and just right click on the folder in Zune and sync it to automatically have it update as necessary. Sadly you can’t do video playlists, so you’ll have to manage that manually.

    Should save you some time. I probably don’t have as much data as you seem to be playing with, but I like to think I do have quite a bit, and I do reset every once in a while. It takes me about less than an hour to get back up and running. Less time than it took for me to get my old Android device back up and running properly. So of course, the time it takes to get back up and running will vary by device and certainly by how much you have personalized it, be it Android or Windows Phone 7.

  4. Ahh but the kicker there is that even if your device has the same name, it may not be the same device. It would be nice if Zune or whatever application could use another form of identification (like hardware serial, or IMEI) and keep it in sync that way. Then Zune will always know if its a new or old device and sync accordingly. Though i’m sure for privacy and security reasons that won’t happen.

    As for the photos, it’s odd because my settings are set to copy the photos from my phone to my PC, but when I hard reset, Zune doesn’t delete the contents of the folder, it only continues to sync new content into that folder and doesn’t touch the existing stuff. I think it’s because I don’t actually sync the folder itself to my phone, I just have that “copy” setting enabled. New stuff gets added, old stuff remains there and untouched.

    I’m glad your feeds are usually already there, because I couldn’t imagine sitting at my phone typing in long RSS feed URLs. That would take a long time. It’s why I just use my PC to manage Google Reader. So much easier.

    As for your media content, sounds like you should unalign your Zune library with your Windows 7 libraries. Manage them separately, and you can add custom folders for Zune to watch and manage, and that should make it easier to sync back and forth, unless you already do this.

  5. Thanks for the detailed reply. Some interesting stuff.
    Sure, that’s how ActiveSync worked but I thought things were going to get better. Hard resets are not that uncommon so if you sync a device with they same name why can’t the same files/folders sync again. Seems easy enough. Yes, I do sync all my photos/videos with my desktop and they get dropped into My Pictures/Zune/DeviceName. But after I resynced that folder (actually Camera Roll & Saved Images) was empty. So you need to move/backup that folder before resyncing.

    Logins/passwords were for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, DropBox, etc. so they are always gonna be there. I like my two RSS readers and about 90% of the feeds are already there but I add 3 or 4 links to each for some local news and to add some photo rich feeds for IMG News reader, which displays the news with photos.

    I have about 40 albums and a handful of cuts that I sync but have about 70 albums in My Music, so I don’t want to sync the whole folder. And I don’t want to try to create a massive playlist out of what I do want to sync. That would be maintenance everytime something changed. Actually I have about a dozen different photo folders that I sync, but again not even close to everything in My Pictures. And My Videos is worse with some videos displayed three times for different formats/resolutions. Definitely need to move some out of there.

    I had plenty of practice with WM, but this was my first WP7 experience. Everybody will have to do it eventually. Might as well know how. Thanks again.

  6. I think a list of downloaded apps and their setting should be connected to you LIVE ID not the phone … And the settings would be stored on skydrive…

  7. I have had issues, too, with Zune with a WP7 factory reset – the Zune recognized the new as the old, and as a result none of my apps, music, etc. is there. Does anyone know how I can get them back? I’ve talked with Zune but no success, they just have the ‘new’ record of no purchases….I still have the pictures from before I Can reload, but the apps I don’t know how to fix….Thanks!

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