RIM BlackBerry How To: Transfer Data, Apps Between BlackBerry Smartphones

Thanks to RIM's BlackBerry Desktop Manager software, which ships with all BlackBerrys, you can transfer data like contacts, messages and call logs, as well as applications, from one BlackBerry to another without breaking a sweat. Follow this four-step process to quickly customize your new device.

Getting a brand new Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry smartphone can be a life-changing experience. But how do you transfer the loads of personal information on your old device to that shiny new Pearl Flip? Fortunately, you can complete the process quickly.

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I've covered various aspects of the BlackBerry Desktop Manager in the past, including how to use the program to load, update or remove applications; back up and restore handheld data; add media files to a BlackBerry microSD memory card; and determine the amount of smartphone memory you're using at any given point.

This BlackBerry Tip o' the Week explains how to use Desktop Manager to quickly and easily transfer all or some of the personal data and applications on an existing BlackBerry smartphone to another. All you need to get started are two mini USB sync cables (like the one that came with your BlackBerry,) the Desktop Manager software and the two BlackBerry smartphones. (Note: If you're transferring data to or from a device with a micro USB port, like the new Pearl 8220 Flip, you'll also need a micro USB sync cable.)

Step One: Get BlackBerry Desktop Manager, Launch the Program

First things first: You'll want to download or install RIM's BlackBerry Desktop Manager software, if you haven't already. To do so, either insert the BlackBerry user tools disc that shipped with your device and then install the software, or visit RIM's website and download it manually. The latest version of Desktop Manager is 4.6., though earlier versions should do the trick, as well. (Note: BlackBerry Desktop Manager only works on PCs, though RIM has promised similar tools for Mac users in 2009.)

BlackBerry Desktop Manager About Screen
BlackBerry Desktop Manager About Screen

After installing BlackBerry Desktop Manager, launch the program by clicking on the desktop icon created during installation. (If you chose not to create a desktop icon, locate the application in your computer's program files and then launch.)

Step Two: Connect Your Existing BlackBerry, Select Device Switch Wizard

Next, connect your existing BlackBerry smartphone--the one storing your personal data and applications--to your PC using the USB sync cable, and then close any unrelated dialogue boxes that appear. You know your device is connected when your BlackBerry PIN appears in the bottom left corner of the BlackBerry Desktop Manger screen, next to Device connected (PIN).

BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard Screen
BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard Screen

When the BlackBerry is connected to your PC and Desktop Manager, choose the Device Switch Wizard option. On the following screen, click Switch BlackBerry devices.

Step Three: Configure BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard

The Switch BlackBerry devices screen displays three columns: Current device ; New device ; and Options . The first field below the Current device heading should be labeled PIN and the value within should match the PIN digits in the bottom left corner of the application screen. If not, open the drop down menu beneath Current device and select the PIN associated with the connected BlackBerry. If your device is password protected, you'll also need to enter your passcode.

Because you new device is not yet connected, we'll ignore the middle column for now.

BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard Main Screen
BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard Main Screen

The Options section lists a number of options related to the device data that you wish to transfer to the new device. For example, you can choose to transfer all device data and options, as well as all third-party applications. Or you can pick just device data or only third-party apps. There are also options for updating existing applications--if updates are available--and you can manually select which apps you wish to transfer. (Note: Some applications are OS-specific, so an app that works with BlackBerry handheld OS v4.3 may not function correctly on a device running OS v4.5.)

BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard Options
BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard Options

Step Four: Transfer Data, Apps from One BlackBerry to Another

When you've specified what data and apps you want to transfer, click the Next button in the bottom right corner of Desktop Manager to proceed. A variety of progress bars will appear on screen as Desktop Manager scans your device and copies its contents for backup. This will take a few minutes, so be patient.

BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard Application Selection Screen
BlackBerry Device Switch Wizard Application Selection Screen

When the backup process is complete, another dialogue box appears asking you to select your new device. At this point, connect the new BlackBerry that you wish to transfer data and applications to and select the corresponding PIN from the drop down menu. Again, you'll need to enter in your passcode here if your device is password protected. Then hit OK. Another set of progress bars then appears to scan the application configuration on the new BlackBerry.

If you checked the Options box for Allow me to select applications to add or update option , a list of all the applications on your existing BlackBerry appears. You can then choose which apps you want to transfer from the old device to the new. To remove an app from the list, simply uncheck the box next to that application. When you're finished, click Next.

Patience comes into play again at this point, as it can take anywhere from five minutes to half an hour to complete the process. So sit back, grab a soothing beverage perhaps, and decide what to do next with your new smartphone.

Two factors worth noting: After transferring personal data and apps to a new BlackBerry, you'll likely have to log back into any programs that require a user name and password, so you may want to have your login information handy. Second, it's not uncommon to come across application errors when attempting to transfer apps from one device to another--especially if those devices are running different OS versions. The simplest way to proceed after receiving an app error is to remove the problem application from the list of programs that will be transferred using the instructions above. Then you can simply download a fresh copy of the problem app at a later time.

Oh yeah, it's also a good idea to wipe your old device clean. For more on how to do so, read "BlackBerry How To: Wipe Handheld Clean, Restore Factory Settings."

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