Saturday, November 1, 2003

How to start clean with a new Palm handheld


By David Gewirtz

My friend Steve and I have often wondered just how much of our lives we've wasted waiting for Windows to reboot, and just how many days, cumulatively, we've given up to reinstalling Windows. Sometimes, I think that compared to getting a Palm OS handheld to reinstall properly, a basic Windows install is a cakewalk.

Most Palm users will disagree with me. To them, installing the Palm OS software is a one, two, three, you're done process. Not for me.

You see, I review stuff. Lots of stuff. And the dregs, droppings, and drippings of the stuff I review linger on my handheld long after I've uninstalled the program in question. After three or four years, my personal Palm OS device (which, until recently, was a Visor Prism), was more full of gunk than the sewers in Ghostbusters II.

Since the Palm OS has changed pretty measurably since the days of the Visor Prism, I decided it's probably time to upgrade my handheld. After all, we've got Palm OS devices and Pocket PCs (especially Pocket PCs) coming in here by the truckload. It might be nice if I actually used one of those for a change.

But every time I've ever attempted a handheld switch, because of all the gunk in the sytem, it's always been something of a nightmare process. This time was no different. However, this time I had some very specific goals. I wanted to move over the contents of my Date Book (now called Calendar), To Do list (now called Tasks), Address Book (now called Contacts), and Memo Pad (now called Memos) to the new device.

I didn't want to move anything else. I wanted as clean an install as possible, with just my new data.

There are some simple ways to install a new Palm Desktop and handheld. Usually you do a HotSync operation with the old handheld, install the new desktop (often right over the old one) and then do another sync. Unfortunately, this often brings some old carry-overs, ghost files from the old machine to the new machine. I wanted it to be fresh.

Four and a half hours, seven Windows reboots, and five cold resets of the new handheld later, I've gotten my wish. Along the way, I learned a few lessons (and relearned some important things I'd forgotten). The rest of this article will show you how you can accomplish the same thing, but, hopefully, with less pain.

Stage 1: Backing up the old device

Whenever I try one of these little transfer processes, I like to back up everything, redundantly. First, of course, I did a final HotSync between the Visor and the older, Handspring version of Palm Desktop.