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Preparing for disaster with a WP7 device


I love my new HTC Surround and expect (hope) it will be around for many, many months, or at least until the next best thing comes along. But you never know when one of these sophisticated electronic devices are going to take a crap, or you forget the phone is in your shirt pocket while you are.…leaning over the dock of the bay. Or, not my particular problem, but what about the Micro SD card debacle. Are Focus users waiting for the day something goes wrong requiring a hard reset? My glass is almost always half empty, so I like to have a contingency plan, like that wily rabbit with a front and back door to his humble underground abode. Hell, businesses have entire departments dedicated to disaster preparedness. Why not me.

As full system backups are not in the current WP7 plan, and are probably not really necessary, how does one prepare a WP7 device for the worst. There are really only three areas of concern; contacts/calendar, media; music, photos & videos, and apps. While a crash or dunk would cause you to lose all of your text or messenger history, that’s really not the place to be storing important info anyway. Do you record all of your daily face to face voice conversations? No. Then get over it already. Email is as easy as typing in your user name and password, and possibly changing one or two default settings. So lets move on to the important stuff.

-Contacts & Calendar – This will differ depending on your setup but you should be able to sync up using; Google, Windows Live or Exchange Server almost immediately after you turn your phone on and enter your credentials, which will probably activate one of your email accounts at the same time. Log in to Facebook and all that stuff will sync as well. Maybe some contacts to remerge and some other minor housekeeping, but nothing that will take days or even hours to get just right.

-Zune Media Sync – Once you plug your new or reset phone into your computer, all of the info in your "collection" should sync up with your phone. And while I don’t have Zune Pass, my understanding is that any purchased media will also sync with little effort.  While your at it, log in to XBox Live and your avatar, along with any settings will be back where you left them.

-Zune App Marketplace – I have it on good authority (thanks Ramon) from an experienced hard resetter, that all of the apps you have purchased/downloaded from the Marketplace will be restored on your phone once you plug into Zune desktop. Not sure exactly how Zune does this, and I can’t find any documentation to describe (only deals with media) but it sounds simple enough. Not sure if it installs ALL your apps, which is a problem with Windows Mobile Marketplace, where the download includes expired trials along with apps you previously deleted from your device. But I guess something is better than nothing, even if I may have to do some housekeeping afterwards.

I know I can go to "Phone>Settings>Account>Purchase History>Apps" and scroll through a list of apps I have downloaded, both paid and free, but I can’t print, download or otherwise interact with this list.  Being anal as I am, I have a list in OneNote of the 82 apps I am currently using, which does not include the 8 or so I have deep sixed or the trials, all of which are included in the Zune list. And wait, looking more closely the Zune list only shows entries from 11/13 thru to 11/23 (today), but I know I downloaded a bunch of stuff between 11/8 and 11/13. Where did it go? Into the cloud I assume. Seriously though,  I would like to understand the app restore function before its forced on me. And I would like to have a better view of the apps I have downloaded and maybe flag those I prefer not to ever see again. After a brief search, it seems like the Zune Help sections have not been updated to address anything associated with Windows Phone. I know its a busy time Microsoft, but inquiring minds want to know.

So there you have it. Disaster recovery in maybe an hour or so and most of the time you will be on auto pilot. Do I miss the file management system and all of the assorted utilities on my WinMo device, including my nightly backup. Not a bit. Do I miss the almost unlimited ability to tweak pretty much every color, font size, and other aspect of my core apps. Maybe, a little. Do I miss having to maintain of log of said tweaks along with a log of all installed apps, with vendor, versions, user ids, passwords, etc., so that I could get back to where I was after a disaster. Nada.  Am I worried about disaster striking my WP7 device. It’s in my nature to be worried, what I call “pessimistically cautious”, but I think I will sleep better tonight.