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The Dreaded WP7 Factory Reset: What to Expect

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.