backup

One of the great features in Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to restore from a backup when setting up a new device. Everything from your Start screen layout to the apps themselves and even some settings can all be 'restored' if you ever change devices, or wish to hard-reset and start anew.

However, a few people have noticed that under Settings > Backup, there is an error message noting that the last backup attempt has failed. Even more worrisome, you may not even know it. Yikes! The good news is there is a fast and simple way to get this fixed, and you may want to double check that your OS is backed up. Here's how.

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When it comes to Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft has gone a long way in fixing many pet peeves of users. One of those pertained to those with a Nokia Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520 or Lumia Icon. Those users have the ability with the Nokia Camera app to shoot ‘high resolution’ photos, taking advantage of their respective 41 MP and 20 MP cameras. But auto-backups using OneDrive would only save the lower resolution 5 MP one, leaving the high-resolution version on the device. Not good.

As many of you have noticed over the last few weeks, Windows Phone 8.1 will now save those high resolution photos. We've finally gotten around to taking a look at it ourselves, and here are our findings.

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One neat and understated feature of Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to backup apps + settings. Previously, Windows Phone could restore apps, but your Start screen was left off of the restore point in addition to passwords, browser favorites and app configurations.

Now, with Windows Phone 8.1 users can finally restore all of that when jumping to a new phone or after hard resetting. Let’s take a quick look at how it works.

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Spring is quickly approaching and with the warm weather, everyone will start finding their way outdoors and our Windows Phone cameras will become more active. We’ll be shooting pics of flowers, the kids running around the back yard, little league ball games, vacation spots and other warm weather hot spots.

These photos are important to you and should something happen to your Windows Phone, you would want them backed up, right? Well, for those new to Windows Phone (and those who have forgotten) there is an easy way to back up your photos.

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As previously announced, Microsoft will be getting rid of the messaging folder on Outlook.com. As the company moves towards a more unified Skype messaging system, all old messaging history will be removed from your Outlook.com inbox. This change will only affect users who use the Outlook website to message, but if you do want to keep your old chat history, be sure to continue reading.

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Today Microsoft made an announcement for users who use the messaging feature on Outlook.com; if you currently use the Outlook web interface to chat with your friends on Facebook, Google Talk, or Messenger, the site keeps a copy of your chat history in a folder. Starting this fall, the Messaging history folder will be removed.

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Backing up personal data, including SMS conversations, has always been absent from Windows Phone. We’ve previously looked at how the Windows Phone Connector for Mac enables such functionality to a degree as well as a Homebrew Windows backup manager, but it’s always best to have such a feature built into Windows Phone.

In Windows Phone 8 Microsoft has implemented a backup facility that automatically stores SMS conversations and app list (including settings) information, as well as options to control how Windows Phone deals with uploading photos and videos captured using the handset. Using Microsoft’s cloud services, conversations and app settings are all automatically stored.

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The same crew at NokiaGang who brought the earlier video OIS test with the Lumia 920 have a short video showing off the matte-black version.  The video itself doesn't reveal too much, though we have seen less of the all-black variation of the 920 since Nokia seems to focus on yellow for most product shots.

Interestingly, the handler does get the privilege of magically swiping to the right to see the programs list. Shocker, it's the same as Windows Phone 7 though we do quickly see a Transfer my Data app in that list. The program is never launched and we're unsure if this is part of the cloud-backup solution for saving app data that we showed in the SDK video or if this is a Nokia app to further augment that service (e.g. from any other smartphone).

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Backing up Windows Phones on Macs is a breeze

We've already established that backing up your Windows Phone can prevent any unnecessary headache due to the loss of personal data. There's no guarantee you'll always remember to take the Windows Phone out the pockets before bundling clothes into the washing machine. We recently took a look at how to back up Windows Phone using a third-party Windows tool since Microsoft doesn't offer said functionality in Zune.

In that article we incorrectly believed that the Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac doesn't feature any backup facility. Turns out, it certainly does (officially too) and shares the exact same functionality as the tool we used in our previous how to, except we're now on a Mac. It's odd that Microsoft would provide Apple Mac users the means to successfully carry out backing up their Windows Phones without using third-party software, yet Windows consumers are left in the dark for now. 

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If only backing up was this easy

Continuing on with our series of Windows Phone how tos for those who are new to the platform, today we'll be looking at how to backup and restore our smartphones. Backing up is a chore than many have to undertake on their PC, whether it be apps, documents or photos from a memorable vacation - it's always best to have more than one copy of everything. The same goes for contents on your smartphone.

Should anything happen to your Windows Phone, or if you’d like to revert to an earlier snapshot, you’ll need a backup at hand to get everything working in perfect order. Unfortunately Microsoft doesn’t currently offer an official facility to manually backup a Windows Phone (not even in Zune), but luckily there are alternatives thanks to an active developing community.

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The familiar Recycle Bin, coming to SkyDrive soon?

With the new SkyDrive having been rolled out last week with the new modern UI, it looks like Microsoft still has some plans for the service for adding new features.

One of those features being planned is evidently a Recycle Bin, which has been found via the coding within the site itself and was earlier tipped to LiveSide.net back in the spring.

No details have been given as to the exact functionality of such a feature but it’s easy to assume that it will allow you un-delete items for a period of 30 days or so as a sort of safety-net for your content. Any delay in rolling out this feature most likely has to do with getting the service up and running via their mobile apps, since they will also need to be updated for this tool.

No word on exact release dates but at the rate which Microsoft is moving these days, it probably won’t be too long.

Source: LiveSide.net

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In a poll conducted this past weekend here at Windows Phone Central, 7,640 participants voted on the top-three features (out of an optional nine choices) they wanted most in Windows Phone 8.

Although the full consumer feature list has yet to be revealed by Microsoft, due to the leaked SDK a few weeks ago a lot of the new options have been detailed already. In turn, we asked users what they thought was missing (or we saw no evidence for) in Microsoft’s next-gen mobile operating system.

The results are certainly interesting and by large margins the top three choices by users are clearly discernable...

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Backing up app data on SkyDrive--not cool with Microsoft?

An interesting controversy spring up over at the AppHub forums over the use of SkyDrive for backing up app data—not so much photos and documents (which is fine) but rather unintelligible files created by apps for app-specific data.

The crux of it was someone from the SkyDrive team made a comment that using SkyDrive for such a purpose goes against the user agreement for the API and it could result in the Windows Phone app being yanked from the Marketplace.

Justin Angel, Principal Engineer for Windows Phone experience at Nokia, fervently objected to this idea noting

“As SkyDrive API usage is not part of the Application Certification Guidelines I resent that team threatening app developers with expulsion from the marketplace for misuse of their API.”

It’s certainly a good point although we see the reasoning behind the SkyDrive team’s position. Luckily things are not as dire as expected.

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Windows Phone hacker Heathcliff74 is announcing the immediate availability WP7 Root Tools 0.9 today. 'Root Tools is a suite of tools for Windows Phone that we've been following since inception and already features a full blown registry registry editor, file system browser, and certificate injection capabilities. But the new version comes jammed pack full of additional new and exciting features that will no doubt re-energize the homebrew community. I'm talking about features such as:

  • True and unfettered root access
  • Better performance
  • Increased device support
  • A new policy editor
  • A new software development kit

The more exciting news here, however, is the shiny new SDK (0.1) in tow, offering homebrew developers a set of APIs that tap into the same root-level features that the tool relies on. An application wishing to wield such power, however, must first seek permission from the user. That is, the users must explicity mark a particular app as "trusted". Grumble all you want, this gate is in place for obvious and serious security and privacy reasons. You don't want all those private photos on Twitter, right?

With no shortage of gullible install-everything phone users out there (see Android) policing root-required homebrew applications, Heathcliff74 admits, "will be tough." At this stage, we'll have to rely on the attentive homebrew development community to continue sniffing out crapware. In the future, however, a more centralized model complete with app certification may be in order.

All that serious stuff aside, Heathcliff74 was kind enough to let me play with the SDK prior to release and let me tell you: it's easy to use and full of awesome. Working with Delphi aficionado [ed -- *snicker*] David Golden (@GoldenTao), of MetroTwit fame, we decided to retry the implementation of my grandiose hackathon idea -- to create a complete backup the phone, including Marketplace apps. And succeed we did.

 

Screenshots of the upcoming Complete Backup app.

While the app isn't quite ready yet -- we still need to button up some networking code, resolve app guids to names, create a restoration app, etc. -- it will support the complete backup (and eventual restore) of Windows Phone application data to the PC via native sockets. And better yet, it'll be completely open-source and available on GitHub.

So at this point, you're probably thinking: "Where do I get this spoonful of delicious?" Simple. Head over to Heathcliff74's new home on the Internet, where he will blog about and host the WP7 Root Tools XAP. But be warned: The software drills deep into the phone. I can't recommend enough that you use Zune to backup your device prior to install. Oh, and you need to have a device that's "Interop Unlocked" (or flashed with a custom hacked ROM). Sorry.

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WP7 Backup tool [Homebrew]

A member over at the XDA Developer forum, by the username hx4700Killer, has come up with a backup tool for your Windows Phone 7 device. It's a simple .Net program that allows users to backup their device via Zune and can be used for restoration when you use the "update" option.

There are a few prerequisites that need to be seen to before-hand:

  • Zune software installed (sorry OS X users)
  • Windows Phone Support Tool installed (x64 or x86)
  • An update package from any phone (link)

Should you be missing any of the above the application will alert you and even open a web page to point you in the correct direction for the absent link in the chain. To download and find out more information, check the source below.

Source: XDA Dev Forum, via PocketPC.ch; Thanks Stevie B., for the heads up

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Back on Oct. 5, Dashwire announced an exclusive partnership with Best Buy to offer its services for free to new customers buying smartphones. Certainly a unique choice. But with Microsoft's MyPhone being nearly ubiquitous now, we suppose not so much a good one.

The bad news is for you existing Dashwire users.  Evidently on Dec. 31, 2009, Dashwire will stop working.  You apparently have the option to back up your data to a desktop and/or "...migrate your information to services from Dashwire licensees if you’re interested" -- though we're not too sure how to do that just yet nor are we sure if it'll cost anything.

Anyways, now may be a good time to explore alternatives.  Dashwire, we wish you luck with that Best Buy thing.

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Sprite takes backup over the air

We've been fans of Sprite software for a while now, particularly its backup application, and now it's taking things into the cloud.

Virtual Mobile gives you a "vault" in which you can backup and store your contacts, SMS messages, photos, calendar and call history. You can access your vault from any PC, remotely lock your phone, or wipe data from it.

Virtual Mobile is in beta right now and is available for all Windows Mobile 5 and 6 phones. Learn more here, and register for the 30-day beta here.

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Can customs seize your Windows Mobile device?

A bit of hoopla was raised last week over border search policies disclosed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In almost every news story, the word "laptop" was used in the headline. And this is true. Your laptop can be seized and its information inspected for an unspecified amount of time, no suspicion necessary.

If you're visiting WM Experts, you're probably a fine, upstanding member of society, and a model patriot and benefit to the American way of life, blah blah blah.

But the next logical question is, "Can they take my Windows Mobile device?" Check in after the jump for the answer, and for some tips that could save you some time and embarrassment. (Though if you're looking for a way to completely sneak one past the government and cause some shenanigans, you're at the wrong place.)

Welcome back. So can The Man snag your phone and look at your data?

The answer is: Absolutely. Along with just about anything (electronic or otherwise) you have on your person.

From the Policy Regarding Border Search of Information (pdf link), dated July 16, 2008 (bold section emphasized by us):

CBP [Customs and Border Protection] is responsible for ensuring compliance with customs, immigration, and other Federal laws at the border. To that end, officers may examine documents, books, pamphlets, and other printed material, as well as computers, disks, hard drives, and other electronic or digital storage devices.  These examinations are part of CBP's long-standing practice and are essential to uncovering vital law enforcement information. For example, examinations of documents and electronic devices are a crucial tool for detecting information concerning terrorism, narcotics smuggling, and other national security matters; alien admissibility; contraband including child pornography, monetary instruments, and information in violation of copyright or trademark laws; and evidence of embargo violations or other import or export control laws.

The policy isn't new, and it applies to anyone entering the United States, citizen or not.

Handling the information

So customs can snag your device, copy your data or inspect it on site, and there's not a whole lot you can do to stop them from doing so. If they find probable cause that you're up to no good, they may "seize and retain the originals and/or copies of relevant documents or devices, as authorized by law."

And your data can be copied and shared with just about any other governmental agency.

Copies of documents or devices, or portions thereof, which are retained in accordance with this section, may be shared by CBP with Federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies only to the extent consistent with applicable law and policy.

Absent probable cause, they can only keep information regarding immigration matters.

Other provisions

Windows Mobile is primarily still a business device, and businesspeople tend to travel with sensitive information.

There are provisions for "business information," though it doesn't say much more than "We'll do what we can to keep your stuff from falling into the wrong hands." And it adds that "Depending on the nature of the information presented, the Trade Secrets Act, the Privacy Act, and other laws may govern or restrict the handling of the information."

But we don't recommend claiming that the photos you took of the, er, entertainment, on your - cough, cough - "business trip" to Tijuana are proprietary information.

Attorney-client privilege is also addressed. While claiming such can't keep them from being searched, it should bring an extra level of oversight in the handling of your data.

Correspondence, court documents, and other legal documents may be covered by attorney-client privilege.  If an officer suspects that the content of such a document may constitute evidence of a crime or otherwise pertain to a determination within the jurisdiction of CBP, the officer must seek advice from the Associate/Assistant Chief Counsel or the appropriate U.S. Attorney's  office before conducting a search of the document.

What can you do?

The easiest answer is, leave your laptop or WinMo device at home. But that's not much of an answer, is it?

Here are a couple of simple solutions.

1. The cloud: We love the cloud. We talk about the cloud all the time. Store your data in the ether, and you don't have to worry about someone snagging it off your device. (Who has access to it way up the sky is a whole 'nother matter, but that's for another day.)

2. The ninja-stealth move: We'll keep saying it until we're blue in the face. Backup software is your friend, and SPB Backup 2.0 is perfect for this one.

It's as simple as doing a full - and encrypted - backup of your device, and saving that backup to a storage card (which you should already be doing) or, better yet, somewhere in the cloud (though the 20-meg or so file sizes could be a problem there).

Then, before heading back across the border, do a hard reset and wipe your device. When you get back home, restore from the backup, and you're right where you left off. No muss, no fuss.

The caveat

This isn't a foolproof way to keep your data completely out of the hands of, well, anyone but you, nor is it meant to be. If Jack Bauer wants to make sure you're not using your phone to make his next 24 hours a living hell, he's going to do so. (And, yes, we're well aware that it takes more than a simple reformatting to make data irretrievable.) This is just the equivalent of keeping a screener from riffling through your underwear in your suitcase, looking for a shotgun.

That said, there isn't a whole lot of legal precedent for this sort of thing yet, so there likely will be some bumps in the road.

Look, we certainly don't endorse transporting anything illegal over U.S. (or anyone else's) borders. And we're all for catching terrorists before they strike. So please don't view this as a way to circumvent policies and procedures meant to safeguard all of us.

But your data, your privacy and your Fourth Amendment rights are priceless, too.

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