By BoLOBOOLNE payday loans

How to rescue an old dying Windows Mobile 5 phone from code-rot

Those of us who have been around the block know that Windows systems accumulate cruft as they age and just generally get slower and less reliable until you wipe the OS and start over.  I realized recently that Windows Mobile 5 is no different.  Here are the steps I took to clean off a machine that was so far down the path of destruction it was almost unusable

Oh, Treo running Windows, how can you suck so badly?

After having my Treo 700W for a while, it started to get noticeably less stable.  First it stopped receiving e-mail.  Then it stopped sending e-mail.  Then incoming calls would cause it to crash (my favorite really).  Then it stopped sync’ing to Outlook, and then it wouldn’t even show up as a USB device on my PC.  Then incoming text messages would cause it to crash.  At that point it was just too much.  The Treo 700W is worse than most WM5 devices because it just doesn’t have enough RAM — somehow Palm failed to implement Microsoft’s recommended minimum memory requirements, which I hear rumors almost resulted in a class-action lawsuit.

Around July I realized that every time I rebooted the thing, it wasn’t storing any new text messages.  After a reboot, June 21st would be the most recent text message it stored.  I wondered if it was just being slow to commit them to memory, but finally I realized it was just full.  So I tried to clear the entire text message store.  I’d let this process run for hours, overnight even, and it would display no progress.  After rebooting, nothing had changed.  I remembered that at some point the "drafts" folder had become corrupt to the point that even trying to display the folder would lock the system hard.  I wondered if that was related.

The Dilemma

So my phone is crashing constantly.  It’s my primary contact database, and social calendar.  I know how to do a hard factory-defaults reset of everything.  But I haven’t gotten it to sync to Outlook since May and I don’t want to loose all the phone numbers and appointments I’ve made since then.  Being Microsoft, there’s no way to get the PIM data out except using Active Sync.  (What’s so hard about exporting to XML or a flat file!?)

So I could rescue my phone by clearing it’s brain.  But my phone is almost part of my own brain, and without backup I’d lose months worth of social data.  Ugh.

The Solution

Here are the steps I took to recover the thing:

1. Copy all files out of ‘My Documents’ folder onto an SD card, and back them up on a real computer.
2. Erase everything in ‘My Documents’
3. Uninstall all user applications.  (Except Active Sync!)
4. Keep plugging it into different Windows PC’s until one of them makes the USB ding-DING noise.  (All my desktop and laptop windows machines have degraded to near uselessness too over the last few months, so this was a challenge.)
5. Make sure that PC has Active Sync and Outlook on it.
6. Create a new Outlook profile (Start->Control Panel->Show Profiles) to back up the phone to without messing with other Outlook stuff
7. Tell ActiveSync to just backup the Contacts and Calendar. 
8. Copy them into Outlook.  (This can take a while of futzing with Active Sync on both sides.)
9. Reset your phone to its factory defaults
10. Active Sync the useful stuff back into your phone.

How do to a hard reset of your Windows Mobile 5 phone:

I’m not actually sure if this works for all WM5 phones, but it works on the Treo 700W.  Here’s what you need to do:
1. Pull out the battery
2. Wait for 15 seconds or so  (look closely at the screen — it slowly fades out even without power)
3. Press and hold the red Phone Hangup / On-off button
4. Insert the battery
5. Keep holding the red button until a screen asks you if you want to reset?
6. Press the up arrow to clear all memory from your phone.

It took weeks to actually accomplish this, but I’m really glad I did because my phone is so much more stable now.  It’s still a complete POS but at least it doesn’t crash every other time somebody calls now.

Next step: get the calendar to sync with google calendar.

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