You Better Back Up!!!

(Work in progress)

Had my very first totally great backup experience about two months ago. The occasion was a totally unexpected hard reset on my Jornada PocketPC after over a year and a half of use without ever encountering one.  Yep, "hard resets" delete absolutely everything in main memory and leaves the unit with a "factory fresh" configuration and file set.

The time was shortly after midnight, when a glance over at the unit on the charger showed that it was not going back to sleep ten minutes after it should have, so sleep was out of the question.  By pure chance, I had made a full backup to the CF card a little less than two weeks before, and to my relief, a minute or so after I tapped the HP "Backup" icon, the unit was back where it was two weeks prior with the only remaining task to set the correct time and date.

For the next three weeks, the wireless card continued to provide abundant training in backup practice and theory and I added my luck to the pot by tossing the backup file that had saved that night when I replaced it with a new one... which turned out to have been corrupted by the ongoing problems with the wireless card.

HP-Backup App to the Rescue

The good news is that backing up a Jornada is simple and quick enough to do it regularly.  The only real issue is that the default location for the backup is "main memory" which is kinda dumb if a CF memory card is inserted.  You can actually start a backup, close the cover and slip the unit into it's pouch or pocket as it should power down a minute or so after the backup is complete.

As with any backup, keep more than one.  If you have a card reader or laptop, copy the backup file (the extension is .dbe) to your PC's hard drive and let them accumulate in case something corrupts the backup process as mine did.

Since the contacts, calendar and tasks are vital to most, there is also a PIM only backup option that should be run as well even though they reside in the primary backup.  It's small and complete's quickly and could be a lifesaver when the first sync after a hard reset replaces all of the fresh contacts and appointments on your PPC with old ones that were in Outlook.

The "Resolve Items" Enigma

A cold boot also means that you are probably going to have to face the dreaded Microsoft "Resolve Items" enigma.  I have only seen one of the many postings on both the newsgroups and faq sites that worked and that was to open Outlook/Help/Detect and Repair

If you are using the copy of Outlook 2000 that came with your PocketPC and insert your install CD, the process immediately stops cold as Outlook only looks at root directories for "Setup" installation files, so you will have to gently guide it to the file \Extras\Outlook\Setup.exe on the Activesync CD

My episode with the corrupt file actually prodded me to re-construct the contents of my PPC and establish the following;

Carrying Your Cabs With You

I now have a CF card directory for all of my third party apps' cab files.  When I copy them to the card, I immediately mark them "read only" as they all will attempt to erase themselves when they finish their install.  If you are not familiar with the process of installing apps click here.

Registry to the Rescue

If you are comfortable using a CE "Registry Editor" take a moment to export the PPC's registry to a disk file as part of your backup process.

When I came to the point of rebuilding a new "Base Load" having a good registry copy allowed me to search out items such as modem connection and dialing location entries and construct registry import files that re-created these items without having to hunt down connect numbers, login id's, passwords and the like.  Kinda underscores the vulnerability of them as well.

I generated individual key files to achieve this and got caught by forgetting that the first line of a registry import file has to be REGEDIT4 or the import will fail, possibly without notice as it did with Tascal RegEdit.

Re-Registering Apps

Another long term practice that paid off big was my practice of storing the registration codes for all of my apps in a Notes file.  In addition to being able to find them all in the same place, they were easy for this dyslexic to copy and paste into the apps.

FastCounter by bcentral