Online back up apps…

Dec 5, 2010
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In the first two months of owning my iPhone 3G, my iPhone crashed on a weekly basis, and my Windows computer just decided to stop syncing contacts and calendars. Most of the time, that wasn’t a problem, I did a fresh restore to factory settings, then restored from my iTunes back up. Enter three times though, twice then and once a year ago, and the iTunes back up contained the crash bug, and I was left with no choice but to do a complete fresh restore without restoring from an iTunes back up. Massive pain finding all my various papers with their schedules and looking up contacts, and it was plain I needed online back up for stuff I really wanted to keep. Here’s my list of currently preferred apps and services for backing up online.

Online calendar services I have tried for backing up my calendar started with Google Calendar syncing with the apps SaiSuke and later Pocket Informant. Both worked well.

Then I gave MobileMe a try for a bit, there was far too much of a time lag between the time I entered the appointments and the time it showed up on my calendar. Just over a week for one event, and I noticed it really drained my battery.

When Google ActiveSync and CalDAV became available on the iPhone, I thought it was perfect, I could use all the calendar apps I had purchased, and each had their advantages, and keep them all synced via the iPhone app. CalDAV was my choice at first over ActiveSync cause the Google calendar colors, now hardwired into my head, all synced over beautifully. ActiveSync chooses random colors for your calendars, and you’ve only got seven colors. I finally did get the ActiveSync colors correct, and I’ve posted the method at the following URL (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1050275). It is definitely a reliable way to get the calendar colors correct on your iPhone, but it may not be feasible for you if you’re sharing the calendars with a lot of people. However I noticed that both CalDAV and ActiveSync were unreliable. I remember one event never syncing to Google Calendar even after a week. It also simply duplicated an event to another calendar and never deleted the event on the original calendar rather than moving the event to that calendar as I had wanted.

I read on one blog that Yahoo Calendar had recently stepped up it’s calendar service, so I looked them up, discovered they could sync Yahoo Calendar to iPhone, and decided to give them a try (exporting calendars from Google Calendar and then importing them into Yahoo Calendars isn’t hard from a desktop). I have been very pleased with Yahoo Calendars so far. All appointments sync over very punctually, it keeps the colors intact on the iPhone, and it doesn’t produce duplicates when moving one event to a different calendar. My only complaints are the limited number of calendar colors, and that a few of the colors show up on the iPhone as looking very similar to each other, like the colors purple and blue are harder to distinguish.

Bookmarks are best done with Xmarks, not necessary to get their premium membership to access them on the iphone, their iPhone web app does the job just beautifully.

Now onto my choice of apps!

EDIT: Apologies for no paragraphs. I entered them as paragraphs, and in the edit screen they still show as paragraphs, but the paragraphs don’t show on my list of apps.

Week Calendar

Syncs to the iPhone Calendar. It loads up fast, it is simply fast, and displays the events in a week as timebars very nicely. The customization of the weekview, such as what are hours are shown, font size, etc, are perfect. I’ve got two slots for All day events, the rest of the thirteen slots that are displayable on the iPhone screen at one time are for my events, and since I work anywhere from 9am to 10pm, thirteen hours is perfect, and so there’s no scrolling involved to see all my events for a week.

 Download 

Pocket Informant

Also syncs to the iPhone calendar. If I want to see how busy this month or next month is, or quickly find a free day, the monthview timebars make that easy to do. I also use it for tasks, and the tasks sync to the online Toodledo service.

 Download 

SaiSuke

Syncs to the iPhone calendar. Fullscreen monthview with up to six events displayed in a month cell (depending on the month and the font size you’ve chosen), it makes finding the next time I’m coming to a certain school again fast. The copy and paste also makes scheduling my lessons for classes the next month pretty fast.

 Download 

IDrive Contacts

A free app. It does back ups only, no two way sync stuff better for not messing stuff up. This syncs all the info I’ve entered, including pics, multiple email and multiple home addresses (Japanese character), notes, urls, birthdays, anniversaries, and even groups. The pics come out a bit stretched on the website, but they restore back down into the contacts app normally. All groups are also restored, but not all contacts make it into their respective groups. Still better than most of the other back up services I’ve tried, MobileMe being the best, but too expensive to continue just for contacts. I’ve listed the other very promising app within my description of PhoneCopy below.

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 Download 

1Password Pro

You can get the free trial version of their desktop application to get their DropBox sync set up, but if they change their sync protocol, then you may just have to buy their desktop app. The sync works very well though, and anything I change either on my iPhone or on the desktop syncs flawlessly through DropBox. Save login passwords, credit card info, and notes you don’t want anyone to have a chance at looking through with first a number passcode, and then an optional mastercode that can be as complex as you’d like it to be. The copy feature as well as the launch of websites in their inbuilt browser with your username and password already filled in for you put it above other apps in it’s category.

 Download 

MomoNote (sync with web)

I first tried MomoNote, then falling in love with Awesome Note’s interface, abandoned MomoNote when Awesome Note offered sync to both Google Docs and Evernote online services. Looking on both Google Docs and Evernote just a week ago though, I saw triplicates and quadruplicates of all my notes. Well I don’t care to be scrolling through all that were I to need to do a fresh restore and sync it all from Google Docs or Evernote again, so back to MomoNote I went, and since they control both ends of the sync, it works very well. It’s still got a very nice interface, tags, smart tags, and search, and about the only functional advantage of AwesomeNote over MomoNote as far as I’m concerned is it’s ability to add multiple pics to a note. MomoNote only allows one pic attached.

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Quick note for those who’d suggest SimpleNote, I’d go with SimpleNotes if it had a passcode lock and the yearly membership wasn’t so expensive. I also dislike automatic sync. One more quick note, the app has a different icon now, and it’s been updated a few times since that icon was changed.

 Download 

Outliner

Lists, brainstorming, etc. It all syncs quickly and smoothly to their online service. This is where I keep grocery lists, lists of movies I want to see, ebooks I want to get, and stuff I’m carefully brainstorming. I can choose to share the list with other Outliner users, which means the grocery list and movies I want to see are synced to my wife’s iPhone.

 Download 

Instapaper

Keep online articles I want to later reference. I can just enter my username, and sync all my articles back onto my iPhone.

 Download 

PhoneCopy

Almost as good as iDrive Contacts. it doesn’t appear to support groups though. I would include another app here, but it’s not yet listed in this site, Contacts backup over Cloud. That app backs up your contacts, groups, pics, and everything else to DropBox. One review complained it doesn’t restore perfectly, but it’s worked perfectly for me in the three test runs I’ve given it.

 Download 

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