Safety First — Three Simple Steps to Protect Your Devices and Data

by Reads (13,028)

Are you safe? I mean with your handheld or smartphone? After reading this article, you will be able to take three simple steps that will help your protect your handheld or smartphone and the data contained in it.

Get a Good Case

When buying a handheld, one of the things that can be over-looked is a good, protective case for your new device. The flip cover or slipper that comes bundled in the box should be considered temporary. I say that because handhelds and smartphones by their very nature are mobile computing devices, they get into all sorts of places that laptops just don’t go. As a result, your devices are susceptible to all sorts of hazards that you may not initially anticipate.

Arguably one of the most common dangers handhelds and smartphones face is falling from a desk, counter, or from our hands. Handhelds and smartphones don’t bounce and many companies like Palm, Inc. usually don’t cover screen replacements as part of the standard in-box warranty.

Palm-branded handheld and smartphones cases are a good place to start. Chances are that the store you purchased the device from also carries a few cases. If the store doesn’t carry a case that fits your personality, or you want a larger selection, Palm’s online store carries a wider selection of third-party cases as well as their own.

Personally, I like the added protection of a hard case because I tend to drop things at the wrong times. Normally, I would endorse Palm’s hard cases. However I’ve not been impressed with their offerings over the last few models that I’ve purchased. Instead, I now recommend looking at the cases offered from RhinoSkin, Proporta, Brando and others. These metal hard cases offer maximum protection from drops. I’ve lost track of how many times my Tungsten T5 has cheated death because of the metal hard case I carry it around in.

I know that not everyone has the same preferences, so if a hard case is, well, too hard to look at on a daily basis, I still encourage you to get a case. All of the vendors I’ve already mentioned, including Palm, offer stylish leather cases that can help absorb the impact in the event of a fall or hard knock.

Back Up Your Data

Over the years I’ve talked with dozens of people who use their handheld or smartphone every day to keep track of their busy schedules, but never stop to back up their data. This troubles me. If you make an investment in a mobile computer, and the case, you also need to make an investment in your time by protecting your personal data.

The easiest form of backup for a handheld or smartphone is to HotSync your Palm OS device or to ActiveSync your Windows Mobile one. During these processes, your data is synchronized with your computer. When you are done with the synchronization process, either HotSync or ActiveSync, a copy of your data is now on your computer and on your mobile device. The HotSync and ActiveSync tools are included on the software CD that came bundled with your handheld and are automatically installed when you install the driver software.

People often as me how many times they should synchronize their device. My standard answer to that question is at least once a day. If you use your device through out the day and find yourself updating the information in it, then I would suggest synchronizing at least three times a day: Once when you start your day; again at mid-day; and then again when you are finished with your day.

When you are away from home or office, how can you backup your data? The answer is to use a backup program on your mobile device. These applications allow you to back up your data to the inserted SD expansion card. In the event that a file is accidentally deleted or your battery runs out on a non-NVFS device, or you are forced to hard reset, you’ll be able to restore your device to the point of the last backup.

Backup applications vary in price and are available for both Palm OS and Windows Mobile 5.0, and earlier Pocket PC operating systems. My personal favorite backup utility is Resco Backup for Palm OS. Resco Backup has a number of the features that you would expect to find in a desktop backup utility. Multiple backup sets, scheduled backups, data compression, and password protection are among the standard features.

Treo 700w users can get the same features by using the latest version of the bundled version of Sprite Backup. Sprite Software and Palm have both released the Sprite Backup 5.0.1 update which is available as a free download from the Palm website. If you are using a Windows Mobile device from another manufacture, you can purchase Sprite Backup directly SpriteSoftware.com web site online store.

I use both applications on my Palm OS devices and my iPAQ and feel that they provide exceptional value and utility.

Lock It Up

The devices that I’ve been talking about in this article are mobile devices and we take them with us everywhere. So it is important to protect of data if your handheld or smartphone is ever lost or stolen.

Palm OS and Windows Mobile 5.0 both have basic security software for locking the device with a password. Optionally, you can configure the security software to erase the device after a pre-defined number of failed unlock attempts. While the security software built-in to the OS provides basic protection, enterprise software vendors like Good Technologies provides more robust security features including the ability to remotely erase the contents of a smartphone and any inserted expansion card.

None of these things guarantee 100% protection from all of the bad things that can happen to the mobile handheld computers that are becoming an integral part of our daily lives, but theses simple steps can help reduce those risks.

 

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