backup/restore made easy
Last year in the October 2006 issue of the First Responder we had an article on backing up the PEAC-WMD
software application to either a PC or to the flash memory on the PDA. This is
still a problem customers are encountering and I thought that revisiting the
problem and the solutions would be of assistance to our customers and others
that encounter this problem with Pocket PCs.
Before getting into the mechanics
of the backup and restore processes a short discussion about the problem may
help Pocket PC users understand the problem. The Pocket PC processor draws
power regardless of whether the unit is turned ON or OFF. The ON/OFF button
simply turns the display ON/OFF, and since the display is one of the primary
power consumers on the PDA, shutting off the display will extend the useful
life of the battery on a single charge. Most of the batteries on the Pocket
PCs are Lithium-Hydride (LiH) units and typically have a pretty reasonable
performance. But like any battery, over time they will degrade and may have to
be replaced. The primary thing to remember – periodically charge the PDA!
Well that’s easy for me to say, but in the real world that’s not always easy to
do. Many fire departments like to mount the PDA in the cab of a vehicle so
it’s ready when rolling out to a Hazmat incident. Great plan and the right
idea, but sometimes the charger isn’t connected to power and before long the
unit is dead.
If your PDA is running the
Microsoft Windows Pocket PC 2002 or 2003 operating system, the problem with the
unit going dead is that 3rd
party applications (like the PEAC-WMD
application) are automatically loaded into volatile memory. Volatile memory
(sometimes referred to as non‑persistent memory) maintains its contents
only while power is applied to the memory. When power is lost, the contents
are lost. And here’s the problem, the unit has to be reloaded with the
PEAC-WMD application, either from the memory card (Secure Digital or Compact
Flash) or the CD-ROM (AristaTek provides both to the customer).
If loading from the CD-ROM, it
takes time and a PC, which is generally a pain in the butt. Loading directly
from the memory card requires only the PDA and the memory card, and is pretty
quick. Once loaded, the full application can be run in the DEMO mode without a
validation code for 31 days.
There is some good news for
customers using PDAs that are getting old and maybe thinking about replacing
the PDA. Most Pocket PC manufacturers are now releasing PDAs running the
Microsoft Windows Mobile 5 operating system. These units automatically install
party applications into non-volatile (persistent) memory.
Suddenly, lost of power to these PDAs becomes more manageable, just get power
(from an AC or DC adapter or a charged battery pack), and you’re ready to go.
Solution to the problem
As discussed in last year’s article, there are two ways to
backup the Pocket PC. One way is to use the computer to which the PDA is
synched. The other way is to backup to the non-volatile (persistent) memory on
the PDA itself.
The backup to the PC works but
it’s cumbersome In that it takes time and you need that PC synchronized to the
PDA to do both the backup and the restore. If you’re in a hurry, that’s
probably not the optimal solution, therefore, I won’t discuss that process but
refer those interested to the previous newsletter article (September 2005)
The other method can be done right
on the Pocket PC itself, without connecting to a computer. Many of the more recently
manufactured Pocket PCs (those running the Microsoft Windows Pocket 2002 and
2003 operating system) have a utility program that can perform the backup and
restore processes to non-volatile memory on the Pocket PC.
These utilities may have different
names, such as “Backup Now” and “Restore Now”, “Sprite Backup”, “iPAQ Backup”,
“Dell Backup”, “Backup/Restore”, “Data Backup”, and there may be other program
names as well. To begin the backup:
- Close all other programs.
- Then tap on “Start”, “Programs”, and
then backup program icon.
- Some programs may have a simplified
option giving you only two choices initially, “Backup Now” or “Restore
Now”. You may tap on “Backup Now” to begin the backup. Here may be an
“Options” menu choice at the bottom, which will allow the user to see a
menu of folders and files, and choose exactly what data to backup by
placing and removing checks in file boxes.
- For programs that do not have
simplified options, or if you choose the “specific files” option, place a
check in the box next to each file, program, or folder you wish to have
backed up. By default, all the boxes are usually checked and you may have
to remove some.
- Make sure you always back up the
“Registry” of the Pocket PC. It is often listed last, under the last folder,
in the backup files lists.
- To restore a Pocket PC, go back into
this program menu, or select “Restore Now” or a similar program icon under
programs, and follow the directions on the screen to restore your Pocket
The advantage of this method of
backup and restoration is that it can be done almost anytime and anywhere. You
do not need to be at your desk. If the battery drawn down and the PEAC‑WMD
application (or any other 3rd
party application) is lost from
volatile memory, simply connect an AC or DC power adapter and run the Restore
One advantage of the TDS Recon, a
popular rugged PDA, is that it will automatically prompt the user to restore
the unit when the power is restored after a power loss.
There are some disadvantages, however.
The backup files take up volatile memory, which may be limited on your Pocket
PC. If the Pocket PC is used for many different purposes (email, calendar,
notes, contacts, other programs, etc.), there may not be enough non-volatile
memory to back up all the important information. This will vary on the Pocket
PC model. If there is not enough internal non-volatile memory on the PDA, the
user can backup to a memory card. Memory cards (Compact Flash or Secure
Digital) can now be purchased in sizes from 64 MB to 2 GB and prices range from
about $12 to $112 per card. The only key is to remember to keep the card
around to do the restore if the unit loses power. If the customer wants to do
the backup to the memory card provided by AristaTek, that’s a viable option.
Some of the Pocket PC–based backup
programs will look like the following images.
iPAQ Backup program
icon Sprite Backup on TDS Recon
and how the program looks.
The Dell “Data Backup” icon, how the program looks, and the
“Restore” tab screen.
This an expanded view of the menu that is found in many
backup programs, with the essential files and folders checked.
This is view of how the backup
program looks on many HP iPAQ units.
Using the backup and restore
functions can save the user a lot of stress and difficulty.
If a reader has questions or
problems doing a backup and a restore, please call the AristaTek Technical
Support and we’ll help you through the process.