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Backing Up Your iPAQ Files

Synchronizing your files is a great way to keep your iPAQ and your desktop PC working together, but synchronization has one big problem: It doesn't protect you from losing important data. It's easy to become confused by the process of synchronizing your files and think that somehow having the same files on both your iPAQ and your desktop PC is the same as having a backup of your iPAQ files.

Unfortunately, synchronization doesn't protect you because of the following reasons:

  • If you delete a synchronized file from either your iPAQ or your desktop PC, that file is also deleted from its partner the next time you synchronize your files. If you think you'll remember to copy the file to someplace else before synchronization and thereby protect it, good luck! Murphy's Law will make certain that you pop that iPAQ into the cradle without remembering to make your copy.
  • If you have to do a hard reset on your iPAQ because of a system problem, any files on your iPAQ will be lost. Isn't it a good bet that this will happen just before you were going to synchronize your files?
  • If a synchronized file somehow becomes corrupted on either your iPAQ or on your desktop PC, you can't complete the synchronization until that file is deleted. And of course, the corrupt file will almost certainly be one that you've spent hours on, or one that you can't easily re-create.

Doing a backup

When you back up the files from your iPAQ, all your data files, any programs you've installed, and any settings that you've adjusted on your iPAQ are saved in a file on your desktop PC's hard drive, which essentially protects the entire investment of time that you've placed in your iPAQ.

The backup/restore procedure described here works with all iPAQ models. You can choose from two different types of backups:

  • Full: A full backup saves everything on your iPAQ that can be backed up. Full backups take a little longer and use more disk space on your desktop PC, but because everything is backed up in one file, you don't have to worry about where your backed up data may be.
  • Incremental: An incremental backup saves only items that are new or have been changed since the last backup. Incremental backups are usually somewhat faster than full backups, and they generally take less disk space. Of course, this can vary according to how much you've done with your iPAQ since the last backup.

Allow plenty of time for a full backup to finish. Depending on the method that you use to connect your iPAQ to your desktop PC and the size of the backup, the entire process can take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour.

To back up your iPAQ files on your desktop PC, follow these steps:

1. Make certain that your iPAQ is connected to your desktop PC.

This usually means placing it in the synchronization cradle, but you should determine your own appropriate method.

2. Open ActiveSync on your desktop system by clicking the ActiveSync icon in the System Tray and choosing Open Microsoft ActiveSync from the pop-up menu.

You can skip this step if the ActiveSync window is already open on your desktop.

3. Choose Tools --> Backup/Restore to display the Backup/Restore dialog box.

4. Select the radio button for the backup method that you prefer.

The first time that you do a backup, both options function the same way.

5. If you want to keep more than one full backup, click the Change button and specify the name for the backup file in the File name text box.

If you use the default name, new full backups overwrite older ones that use the same name.

6. Click the Back Up Now button to begin the backup.

After you click the Back Up Now button, you must leave your iPAQ alone and connected to your desktop PC until the backup is completed. If you remove your iPAQ from the cradle before the backup finishes, you run a high risk of corrupting the backup file.

7. Click OK to complete the backup after you see the message telling you that it is finished.

Restoring from your backup

Restoring your files from an existing backup replaces the files that are currently on your iPAQ with the files from the backup. If you've made changes on your iPAQ since that backup, those changes will be lost after the restore.

Restoring your iPAQ files is even easier than backing them up. Make certain that your iPAQ is connected to your desktop PC, and then follow these steps:

1. Open ActiveSync (if it isn't already open) by clicking the ActiveSync icon in the System Tray and choosing Open Microsoft ActiveSync from the pop-up menu.

2. Choose Tools --> Backup/Restore to display the Backup/Restore dialog box.

3. Click the Restore tab.

4. Click the Restore Now button to display the Proceed With Restore dialog box.

5. Click the Restore button to confirm that you do indeed want to begin the restore.

You can't cancel this after the restore has begun, so don't click this button unless you're absolutely sure that you're ready to restore.

6. Wait until the restore finishes (you see a message telling you it is done) and click OK.

Restoring takes about as long as backing up.

When you finish the restore, you're prompted to remove your iPAQ from the cradle, reset it, and then return it to the cradle. You may then be asked how to resolve a number of items that need synchronization. If so, choose the option that best suits your needs and complete the task.

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