Sunday, November 1, 1998

Cross-platform backup with Backup Buddy

PRODUCT REVIEW

By S. Fred Green a.k.a. Fredlet

Ever have your Palm device freeze and then run your batteries down to nothing? Unfortunately, when your batteries go, the information on your Palm device goes as well.

That, my friends, is a real bummer.

When I had such a crash, in the times before I got my hands on Backup Buddy, I used to go back to my computer and load up all my miscellaneous applications, track down my preferences, rearrrange everything on my Palm organizer, blah, blah, blah. I really didn't have a problem with the stuff that 3Com has in the desktop since it uses its own conduit, but I did have a problem with all the other stuff I installed. I'd have to hunt around and hope I hadn't lost anything. Sometimes I would manage to get all my information back and sometimes, I would lose a bit, though most times I would find the missing file after tracking down some obscure database and reinstalling it.

Backup Buddy's basic mode

There's really nothing to installing and using Backup Buddy in basic mode. Install the .PRC file (15k) and then open the application on your Palm device. As you can see in Figure A, you have two choices: Active and Inactive. Move the selection to Active and perform a HotSync. That's it. One important note: items that use their own conduits are not backed up with Backup Buddy. They really don't need more than their own conduit anyway, so it's not a big deal.

FIGURE A

This is Backup Buddy's basic mode.

The first HotSync after installing Backup Buddy takes a bit longer than usual, but it's not that long. If you want to customize your backup more than just the default setting there are several options available.

Advanced Backup Buddy

The Advanced option of Backup Buddy, shown in Figure B, allows you to select exactly what you want to backup. You can choose all the items on your Palm device, just the applications, just the databases or just the items that were modified. After you have everything nicely backed up, the authors point out that you should make a copy of the Backup Buddy directory on your computer.

FIGURE B

This is Backup Buddy's Advanced mode.

Backup Buddy will also do an automatic backup. As long as you have your Palm device in your cradle at the specified time, you can set an "auto-sync" to backup your information. If you set the auto-sync to backup at night (the only time I can think of when I'm not using my Palm organizer -- when I'm unconscious) you don't have to even think about doing the sync. If you don't have your Palm device in the cradle when the time rolls around for your scheduled sync, it will give up. Warning: keeping your Palm device in its cradle can drain batteries. So be careful.