Losing a cellphone can be devastating, and I'm not talking about how much it costs to buy another. The real pain comes from losing the contacts...
Losing a cellphone can be devastating, and I’m not talking about how much it costs to buy another.
The real pain comes from losing the contacts you’ve accumulated over the years.
Fortunately, cellphone carriers and device makers are stepping up. With more people ditching landline phones and going wireless — and many people storing dozens, if not hundreds, of numbers in mobiles — there’s a growing need for these solutions.
Following are some options. This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, but it should give some idea of what’s out there.
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• The award for most affordable goes to Verizon Wireless, which gives free backup service to customers who sign up to manage their accounts online, also free. The tool, called Backup Assistant, costs $1.99 per month otherwise.
Users download the application from Verizon’s Get It Now menu on their phones. You can set it up to automatically back up your address book to an online vault every day. Log on to Backup Assistant online to add, delete and edit entries, then send the changes back to your phone. It’s all wireless.
Verizon also offers a number of other applications that let you sync your contacts with Outlook and other address book programs.
• Sprint PCS’ Wireless Backup costs $2.99 per month. After you download the program, any numbers you add will be uploaded and available to edit online. However, to get your existing contacts into the system, you’ll have to type them in online or use Bluetooth or a cable to connect your phone to your computer, a spokeswoman said. Most Sprint phones come with a cable or Bluetooth.
• Nextel’s approach is different. MyNextel Address Book, which costs $5 per month, allows for online editing and wireless uploading of your existing contacts. It also interfaces with Outlook and Excel. The product also allows employers to share up to 10,000 contacts with all phone users. You can register online.
• Cingular’s VoiceDial address book also allows users to upload their contacts and to import contacts from programs such as Outlook. While the service is intended for easy hands-free calling, customers who are interested mainly in the backup capabilities can still dial manually, a spokeswoman said. You can get the service for $4.99 per month by pressing * 8 and saying “voice dial” or by calling a Cingular store.
• With T-Mobile USA, if you have a Sidekick and subscribe to Sidekick Data Plan ($19.95 a month), your contacts, photos and other data files can be retrieved, a spokesman said. That’s the only product the carrier has in which you can retrieve data from a lost phone.
• A gadget called CellStik has a cellphone connector on one end and a USB port on the other. Using the included software, customers can save and update their cellphone contacts on their computers with the push of a button. The $39.99 device is available for LG, Samsung and Motorola phones but isn’t compatible with Macs.
• Software such as DataPilot, SnapSync and Handset Manager also allows consumers to manage their contacts on their computers. The software and related cables run $39.99 to about $60. There’s also free, open-source software called Float’s Mobile Agent available online, but it’s limited to Sony Ericsson phones.
• Finally, Backup-Pal eliminates the need for computers. The little device plugs into your cellphone via phone-specific adapters and, with the push of a button, backs up your numbers. Backup-Pal, released last fall, so far is available only at www.backup-pal.com, and so far it only works with a limited set of Nokia, Samsung and Motorola phones. The device costs $39.99 to $49.99.
Seattle Times business staff contributed to this story.