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Posts Tagged ‘data transfer’

Time for a New Smart Phone?

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Although I’ve been looking forward to “upgrading” my Android phone to a newer model, I’ve also been somewhat hesitant. I’ve known people who experienced nightmare scenarios when migrating to a new phone, encountering huge challenges during the transition that have kept them offline for days. When you depend on your phone to get your job done, the thought of being without it for any period of time can be scary. There are programs on the market designed to help you move your apps and data, but even with the assistance of an app it is easy for something to go wrong.

With a little preparation, it is possible to move to the new phone and minimize troubles. My goal is to help eliminate some of the worries you might have about transitioning to a new phone by sharing my recent experience.

The day when my new phone arrived, I took it out of the box and plugged it in to complete the charge on the battery. I figure by the time I’m ready, I’ll have a full charge on my new phone.

In the meantime, I looked at the installed applications on my old now old phone. I mostly used my home screens to first write down the names of the critical apps that were being used on a regular basis. My goal was to back up the settings and data for those apps so I could easily move them to the new phone. My list of critical apps included applications such as Car Expense tracking, Notetaking, Email, and Maps. Then there was a second list for the apps I use occasionally, which I made in order to determine if I could eliminate any apps that I no longer needed. Finally, I made a list of the apps I’ve paid for. I wanted to make sure I was able to get these applications activated on the new phone without any hassles.

It is crucial to know your email address, password and server connection settings if you have company or other email you access aside from Gmail. You’ll also want to make sure you have your Gmail account usernames and passwords before you continue. I went through the settings menu of my old phone and recorded the details for any accounts that I found listed. For any accounts that were shown, I double checked all of my notes to make sure I had to correct passwords. Of critical importance is the primary Google account registered on the phone. If you don’t know what the password is on this account you’ll want to try recovery methods before transitioning to the new phone.

Next, I wanted to get a complete backup of my data. The first thing I did was go through my critical apps and looked in the settings for each one to see if any had a built in export function, some of these apps did provide a way to export data from the app to a file on the SD card. Next, I wanted to backup my contacts. Most phones store contacts not only in Gmail and Hotmail, but also on the phone itself. To make sure I had all my contacts stored, I used the app Backup Assistant Plus to perform a backup of the local contacts on my phone.

I then took a USB cable and attached the cable to my phone and to a computer. With the old phone in data transfer mode, I was able to access the contents of the internal phone memory and the SD card from my computer. Via the USB connection from my PC I selected all of the files and folders from the phone’s memory and copied them to a temporary directory on my computer.

With a complete list of email accounts, passwords for apps, registration codes, and a backup of my contacts and data in hand I phoned Verizon to activate my new phone. Give yourself some time for this part since customer service can be a lengthy process. In my case, it took about half an hour on the phone with them before everything was finalized. The time of day you call will greatly determine your wait time for a representative to assist.

Finally, the new phone had been activated and restarted. At this point I successfully activated my Gmail using the same primary username and password as was used on the old phone. Next, after activation I launched to the desktop of my new phone and opened Google Play from the settings menu. Depending on your phone, you may see the same app named Android Market or Google Play. Here, you can select which Account to sync with. This is usually your primary Google account. You then select” My Apps” and then reveal “ALL”. This list has everything you’ve installed on your phone, including free and paid apps. It should now be possible to re-download and install apps that you previously paid for.

Once I re-installed all my paid apps, the final challenge was determining how to restore my data. I attached the new phone to my computer with a USB cable and placed it into the correct mode to communicate with my PC. Once again I could see drives mapped for my phone’s memory and SD card. This step required a little creativity because I had to determine on a case by case basis which apps I needed to migrate data for and how I could import the data to my phone. Once I identified what I needed to transfer, I copied over to the SD card on the new phone data from the temporary directory I made earlier. For apps that previously allowed me to export data on my old phone, I imported the data from within the app using the file that was created from the export operation.

My next step was to restore my contacts which I did using the features of Backup Assistant Pus. And finally, I double checked that my new phone and all apps on the phone were running the latest versions. While not the easiest process in the world, I was up and running in less than two hours. Not bad for a fast new phone with all of the same programs and features I’d come to enjoy.

So, don’t be fearful of getting that upgrade! If you find yourself needing to replace your next smart device it’s possible to do it yourself. Just be sure to take down as much information as you can and make a good backup copy of everything using several methods. Alternatively, if you would like help from someone experienced or would like someone to do it for you, please feel free to give me a call.

The click of death

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

We are starting to see a lot of dead hard drives at my PC Techs over the past several months. I think a lot of this has to due with the rapid expansion of storage capacity over the past several years. All of this growth has put a strain on the industry to maintain quality in manufacturing. Here’s a good article that speaks to the growth and another that touches upon reasons for hard drive failure.

When a hard drive dies, several factors determine whether or not you can recover your data at a reasonable price. The most important factor of course is the extent to which your hard drive is damaged. In many cases, if the hard drive is not yet completely disabled, the data can be recovered and backed up to another system within hours on the same day. This is done without expensive equipment by an experienced computer tech with the right software and know-how. Even using this low cost method, however, could set you back several hundreds of dollars. It is a time consuming process to recover data from a damaged drive.

In cases where a hard drive has experienced complete failure or is more severely damaged, there is little that anyone can do but send the drive to a specialized clean room facility. This is an unfortunate situation, as clean-room facility data recovery typically begins at $1800 and up.

Ultimately, you want to do everything you can to protect your valuable information from loss and prevent either of the scenarious above. The good news: There’s plenty you can do in advance before a hard-drive fails to protect yourself.

First and foremost, manufacturer and brand of drive is very important. If you’re buying a pre-configured system (such as one from Dell), you may not have a lot of choice over the manufacturer and brand of the hard drive that comes with your computer. However, if you’re building your own computer or if you’re buying a replacement system, look for hard drive manufacturers who have a track record of reliability and a drive brand that has high ratings. I have always preferred Western Digital hard drives above all others in the market for this very reason. Through hundreds of hard drive recoveries I can tell you that Western Digital has the lowest failure rate of all other manufactueres that I’ve seen.

Second, no matter what hard drive you do have, realize that every drive WILL fail at some point. It may be in a month, it may be in a decade. Eventually, the drive will quit and at that point you’ll want to be sure you have a good backup of your information on hand. my PC Techs can help you establish a backup plan that will protect your data against loss regardless of what happens. Our typical plan will account for all types of possible disasters, such as fire, flood, viruses and/or hard drive failure. From all of your purchased iTunes music, to invaluable pictures of family and friends, and other personal data, it’s difficult to count the value of the information on any individual computer. You owe it to yourself to spend a little bit now, not only to protect your information, but to save yourself from thousands of dollars later if you ever need to get it back and you don’t have a backup on hand.

Finally, keeping an eye and ear on your computer system can help tremendously in preventing catastrophic failure. In almost every single instance, a hard drive that’s failing will give you warning signs before it eventually goes for good. The first place you can look is in the system event logs. As a hard drive begins to quit, the event log will list data read and write errors that will warn you that something bad is about to happen. The second warning sign might come from the hard drive itself. If you hear a clicking noise in your computer, it could be a sign that the hard drive is on it’s last leg. A loud clicking sound coming from your hard drive is a warning to you that you should immediately consult an expert to transition your data over to a new hard drive before it’s lost for good.

Following these few simple steps can be a life saver, literally, as more and more of our life information is stored on our computer systems. If you have any concerns or questions about theh state of your hard drive, establishing a backup plan, or data recovery and data transfer, please contact a specialist today at my PC Techs. We’re happy to answer your questions and provide help.


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