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Old 07-17-2007, 12:00 PM
5000+ Posts? I Should OWN This Site!
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,067
Default TUTORIAL: quick transfer of PIM stuff (Contacts etc.) and me

I often receive questions about quickly transferring contacts / calendar items from one Windows Mobile device to another. Because of the frequency of these questions, I deemed it necessary to devote a quick tutorial to the question, temporarily stopping my Next Big Thing: at last, a full review and roundup of ALL Windows Mobile-based database programs.

With devices running operating systems prior to WM5 this (at least as far as transferring contacts is concerned) was pretty easy: you just brought up the built-in keyboard SIP and tapped Ctl, and, then, A, to select all contacts. After this, you could mass-transfer all this via both infrared and Bluetooth to any other device. Alternatively, if you needed to transfer other (for example, Calendar) databases, you just fired up Pocket dbExplorer (my old, often-discussed favorite), backed up the database and just did the opposite (restored) it on the target machine.

Not so with WM5. Here, unless you use a (commercial) PIM extender like Pocket Informant, you canít mass-select any kind of PIM data for transfer (yes, not even Contacts Ė Ctl-A doesnít work any more) and Pocket dbExplorer no longer works either.

If you donít have a desktop Outlook for quick synchronization of these types (the easiest way to do this is, again, Outlook on the desktop) and you donít have access to any Exchange server either, youíre shot.

You may ask whether itís possible to use, for example, Sprite Backup (or, for that matter, any other commercial Windows Mobile full(!) backup solution - see the Backup Bible for more info) to separately, selectively backup / restore ONE PIM database only (only all of them). That is, you would need to back up / restore all PIM databases, not only, say, Calendar (or any other database you select for transfer). This has the following major problem: While restoring the Calendar may work, doing the same with Contacts will most probably result in major problems (the built-in Contacts application not starting at all any more, necessitating a hard / clean reset).

I've tested this between the three models (in addition to my previous experience: see my related remarks on the problems with starting Contacts after some kinds of restorations in the Backup Bible):

Source: WM5 AKU 2.2 Dell Axim x51v
Targets: WM5 AKU 3.5 HP iPAQ hx4700 (imported calendar items weren't visible and
Contacts stopped working)
WM6 HTC Universal (imported calendar items became visible and Contacts
stopped working)

Jeyoís well-known, commercial (!) Mobile Extender is only able to backup / restore / transfer contacts, SMS messages and call history Ė nothing else.

Fortunately, there IS a solution to this problem: either PIM Backup or SKTools.

Dotfredís PIM Backup and / or SKTools to the rescue!


With the latest, just-released SKTools, you can easily combat this problem. A quick remark: upon publishing the first, now outdated version of this tutorial, when SKTools was still unable to do inter-device model restoration, the excellent S-K folks have quickly fixed this bug. With the latest (internal date: 07/17) version, you can already do inter-model restoration.

Start it and go to the Maintenance category; in there, select Databases.

Now, select Appointments Database (or, if you plan to export contacts / tasks, Contacts Database and Tasks Database, respectively) and select Action / Export Marked:

Now, after the backup has finished, just copy the XML file from \My Documents\db_xml to the target machine. On it, go to Maintenance / Databases and select Action / Import:

and, in the file selector window, just double-click the just-exported file to load:

If everything goes OK, the result of the import will be a number more than 0 as in THIS screenshot.

PIM Backup

Iíve elaborated several times on Dotfredís excellent, free and both Pocket PC and MS Smartphone-compatible PIM Backup several times and made sure it got nominated for both the Pocket PC and Smartphone. It is certainly worth giving a try and worth switching to for even scheduled (!) backing up your PIM data and messages, not to mention transferring this data to other Windows Mobile devices.


(QVGA Smartphone)

(176*220 Smartphone)

Get the program HERE. Just transfer the single EXE file onto your handheld, let it be either a Pocket PC or a Smartphone. You can put in anywhere (I recommend \Program Files\PIM Backup or \Storage Card\Program Files\PIM Backup); of course, you will want to create a link to it from \Windows\Start Menu (on a Smartphone) or \Windows\Start Menu\Programs (on a PPC). Then, just start and enjoy it.

The user interface of the application is REALLY straightforward: if youíve ever seen a Windows Mobile backup application, youíll learn it in a second. I still provide you a step-by-step tutorial and, then, also remarks on the compatibility and the main subject of this article: selective restoration and data transfer to other Windows Mobile devices.

PIM Backup step-by-step tutorial

To backup a PIM category (that is, making it ready for future transfer to another WM device), just make sure its checkbox is surely checked in after starting the app (other checkboxes can also be checked in, of course, as separate restoration is possible). In the following screenshot, I show an example of backing up the Appointments database:

Now, click Next in the lower right corner of the GUI and, in the next window (where you can set the backup parameters: where to store the backup file at: itís \Storage Card by default; note that if you donít have a storage card or its path is named differently, you will want to click the Browse button and select another target directory; remember to do this because, if you fail to do it, the current (2.4) version may ot create a file anywhere and just keeps silent about this fact), also the same Next. The backup process will start as can be seen in the following screenshot:

Now, just exit PIM Backup on the source machine Ė you wonít need it any more.

Transfer the file (in this example, \Storage Card\PIMBackup_20070717.pib) to the target WM device and just click it (if youíve at least once run PIM Backup on it so that it can associate backup files with itself for automatic execution). The data type contents (here, Appointments only) of the backup file will be shown:

Here, all you need to do is clicking Next in the lower right corner.

On the next screen, you can fine-tune what should happen to the already existing records in your local Appointments database. Make sure you do NOT use the default ďDelete all existing appointments from the database before restorationĒ if you want to add the new records to the existing ones, keeping the latter. That is, select either the second or the third record, depending on whether youíd like to just blindly insert the new records, or update the existing, changed ones.

Other tips

It has excellent separate restoration capabilities: not only can you select what PIM type to restore (see THIS), but also you can select the individual Messaging folders to be restored as can be seen in the following screenshot:

(A quick note: of them, itís only SMS messages (MMS messages are still not supported) that will be restored on another device!)

Also, it has EXCELLENT options on setting what to overwrite / delete upon restoring: 1 2 3


As has already been pointed out, you will not only want to use the excellent (for example, scheduled) backup features of PIM Backup, but also its cross-device restoration capabilities.

Iíve thoroughly these with all kinds of PIM data and messages between several of my WM5 / WM6 Pocket PCís and no-touchscreen smartphones. As can clearly be seen, cross-restoration (that is, simple PIM database transfer to another device) works just great. All you need to do is select the only PIM database(s) to transfer for backup, transfer (for example, beam via infrared or Bluetooth or transfer via a memory card) the file to the other one (and, when needed, PIM backupís EXE itself) and, there, just restore the data. Itís really simple!

The cross-restoration compatibility chart

As can be seen, in general, you can safely transfer between any kind of WM5 and WM6 devices, both Smartphones and Pocket PCís, the results will most likely work. Iíve only encountered real problems with transferring PIM data and messages from my HTC Oxygen / s310 (a WM5 Smartphone) Ė the Universal (which was able to import the backup files of both the WM5 Dell Axim x51v and the WM6 HTC Vox Smartphone) just couldnít import it.

Smartphone compliance

The only problem I could find was the inability to see files at the bottom of a directory tree as can be seen in HERE. This means you wonít probably want to put your backup files in, say, the root directory of your Smartphone or will want at least once start the backup app so that it associates itself with .pib files.

Works great even on 176*220 Smartphones; the only problem I could find was the slightly overlapping buttons HERE.
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Old 07-17-2007, 08:57 PM
5000+ Posts? I Should OWN This Site!
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,067

Updated version posted
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:07 PM
asims's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 137

I hope this thread is not locked and that you get this message, Menneisyss. I just now needed this information and greatly appreciate the tutorial you so clearly wrote up! This will save me hours of transferring all of my contacts over from my hx2495 to my "new" hx2750! Thank you!
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