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Join Date: Jun 2007
Sprite Software to release a backup (file) browser tool - at last!
Anyone having read my Definitive Pocket PC Backup Bible knows how useful it can be to be able to restore / extract files and, sometimes, WindowsCE databases and registry from Pocket PC backup files on the desktop computer.
Much as, as can clearly be seen based on my Backup Bible, all major Pocket PC backup solutions support cross-restoration (restoring a given file / database to another Pocket PC (model)) on the Pocket PC itself - and Sprite Backup is quite excellent at granularity it allows to set what should be restored -, there may be cases when extracting files and other information on the desktop (as opposed to Pocket PCís) may be highly useful. For example, when you donít have (other) Pocket PCís around (that is, you cantí directly restore your stuff to your / any other Pocket PC) or, when you quickly need to restore a given file / directory and donít want to copy the entire file on a storage card, insert it in your Pocket PC and slowly find the file / data youíd like to restore with the, compared to the desktop PC, a bit less efficient Pocket PC input methods.
Sprite Backup has always severely lacked such a tool (Iíve, after scrutinizing the inner format of the Sprite Backup backup files, coded one for myself some 1.5 years ago but havenít released it to the public to avoid copyright infringement problems), unlike some of the alternates, most importantly, ActiveSync and one of the two new backup titles released last year, Spb Backup. Now, this will change.
The tool isnít publicly available yet. However, it will be released REALLY soon. Make sure you bookmark THIS and regularly check it for the news. Also, make sure you follow the Sprite Backup forums (theyíre, as far as all the Pocket PC backup-based forums are concerned, the best and the Sprite folks are really responsive) for related discussions (currently, there still isnít any Ė itís only some (todayís) posts that it is mentioned; see for example this).
Compared to the alternatesÖ
When compared to the ActiveSync-based STGViewer (v0.2 Beta) and HPC Vault (alternative download link here) (also see this article) and Spb Backup Unpack tool, it certainly excels at some areas (for example, restoring individual files as opposed to, say, the Spb product), while, unfortunately, it doesnít deliver at other areas; most importantly, registry restoration.
In the following comparison chart, I quickly compare the currently available four solutions:
(If you would like to see the original HTML (with clickable links), click this.)
Registry restoration Ė is it needed? Definitely!
As far as registry restoration is concerned, cross-Pocket PC registry restoration is very dangerous and, in most cases, wonít work at all Ė unfortunately, youíll end up adding the cross-restored keys/values to your already-existing Registry contents (also with massive overwriting of previous values). This is in stark contrast with file (you can selectively restore any files and can make beforehand you save the old contents of the target file, if any) and WinCE database cross-restoration (particularly with tools that allow for even selecting what WinCE database to restore). With the latter, in general, no problems will happen when you cross-restore a WinCE database to another Pocket PC, particularly if itís a third-party database Ė see this (continued here) thread for a real-world problem and its solution where this capability has turned out to be very important with the Pocket PC application Cash Organizer.
None of the Pocket PC-based restore tools are able to do selective registry restoration or has a registry tree browser Ė that is, the only way to, say, look up a given value is restoring the entire Registry to your Pocket PC. Itís only the Spb Unpack tool that is able to unpack the contents of the Registry to the desktop PC (but, unfortunately, in a format that canít be directly imported to the Pocket PC without manual conversion first).
WinCE databases; restoring PIM stuff
In addition to the above-mentioned case of Cash Organizer, Iíve, as a well-known contributor & helper on many-many Pocket PC forums, several times been faced with the need to restore for example Contacts data from backup files. Iíve even written several tools that do this; for example, hereís my tool for the HTC Xbackup and hereís for Microsoft ActiveSync backup files.
This means extracting these kinds of data (into, say, a CSV file) would be highly useful on the desktop. Too bad none of the apps do this; for example, the Spb Backup unpacker doesnít even try to peek into the pim.vol file of WM5 devices. This, unfortunately, means you must restore these databases to a real Pocket PC.
- At last it exists!
- Free and works
- Encountered no problems through testing
- Drag and drop support to desktop target; Spb's tool only supports full extraction as can be seen in this directory listing
- Exports to both the Pocket PC and the desktop
- No registry / database support, which is only partially alleviated by Spriteís cross-restoration capabilities; in this respect, some of the alternatives are somewhat better
- Unable to read old iPAQ Backup files
However much this utility is definitely lacking (again, no Registry / WinCE database extraction is possible), it is definitely a nice add-on for, in many respects, the best (and, accordingly, most expensiveÖ) Pocket PC backup suite.
If youíre a Sprite Backup user, donít hesitate to download it as soon as it becomes available. If you still try to decide which backup application to get, the introduction of Sprite Explorer is also an advantage over the alternatives.
I really hope registry / WinCE database extraction will be implemented some day.
Other links of interest
Just Another Mobile Mondayís review
Other backup-related news
Note that, in the meantime, Sunnysoft Backup Manager has also received a major (which also means you need to pay for the upgrade if youíve a registered 3.7 user) version bump & update. So far, I havenít had the time to really thoroughly test it; will try to do this in the near future though. Sunnysoft also promises some decent enterprise features like FTP and HTTPS file synchronization and Enhanced synchronization with Desktop, which will, hopefully, become available Q1 2007.