Bluetooth to the rescue

As anyone who has spent enough time with electronics knows, computers and mobile phones are delicate, fragile devices that are prone to malfunctioning or breaking. And often it takes just the loss of one essential component to render an entire device useless.

That’s what happened to me at the beginning of the month when I discovered, to my chagrin, that my BlackBerry would no longer charge when it was plugged in. I took the phone to the Verizon Store to find out what was wrong with it. Lo and behold, the USB port that allows the phone to charge and exchange data with other devices was broken. The only way to get it fixed, according to the Verizon employee I talked to, was to replace the whole phone.

Fortunately, the phone was still under warranty, so I was offered a free replacement. Taking the replacement, however, would have meant surrendering my old BlackBerry to Verizon, along with all of my settings, messages, and other data which I didn’t want to lose.

I ended up declining the replacement initially, so that I could figure out a way to back up my BlackBerry’s data first. I knew I could use my micro SD card to transfer off the pictures and music that were on the phone, but wasn’t sure how to save anything else. Neither were the unimaginative folks at the Verizon Store…  they had no ideas or suggestions to give me. The most they could offer was to simply go ahead and replace my phone.

I decided to leave my phone at the store so I could at least get the battery charged (it was almost completely dead when I brought the phone in).

When I got home I started researching the problem. I soon found a potential solution while browsing the CrackBerry forums. It turns out that BlackBerries can be backed up wirelessly using Bluetooth – no cables required. It sounded like Bluetooth could come to my rescue.

So I headed back to the Verizon Store. On my way there I stopped at Best Buy to purchase a Bluetooth desktop adapter for my notebook computer, which doesn’t have one built in. I had misgivings about going to Best Buy but didn’t want to drive all the way to Fry’s in Renton to get what I needed.

Turns out I should have.

The “Rocketfish” Bluetooth adapter I got from Best Buy refused to work, even after I had installed the drivers. I kept getting an error message telling me “Bluetooth license check failed. Please make sure that the bluetooth device you are using is licensed”.

As a result, I was unable to connect to my phone to back it up. But at least I was able to take my phone home with me, freshly charged, to keep trying. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the Rocketfish adapter to work (Rocketfish, incidentally, is one of Best Buy’s house brands. Figures).

So the next morning, I returned it to Best Buy and did what I should have done in the first place: go to Fry’s.

At Fry’s I found a Belkin adapter that was less expensive than the Rocketfish adapter, and better supported. (The Rocketfish website is awful, there’s almost nothing there. No drivers, no real support).

I installed the Belkin adapter successfully but was unable to connect my BlackBerry. I returned to CrackBerry to find out why and found out that BlackBerry Desktop Manager only works with the native Windows drivers. I followed the instructions to register the Belkin adapter with Windows and then uninstalled the third party Broadcom drivers.

When I restarted my computer, the Found New Hardware screen came up. This situation wasn’t addressed in the CrackBerry instructions so I wasn’t sure what to do. I chose Install from a list or specific location (Advanced) and clicked Next. At the next screen I decided to try Option Number Three: Don’t search. I will choose the driver to install. I clicked Next.

To my amazement, Windows detected its own drivers and promptly finished the hardware configuration correctly.

I set my BlackBerry to listen for a Bluetooth connection and initiated the Add Device wizard in Windows. Sure enough, it came up. After creating a passkey, I was able to successfully connect. I then opened BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Thankfully, the Bluetooth options in the Connection Type selector were no longer grayed out. I checked the boxes to use Bluetooth and then Yes when the Desktop Manager asked me if I wanted to connect now.

Then, at long last, I was able to back up my BlackBerry.

Less than forty eight hours I had restored the backup onto the new replacement BlackBerry, plugged in my micro SD card, and I was back in business, with all my data intact. That is, except for applications, which I quickly was able to reload with the help of App World. And I now have a charging cradle to further reduce the wear and tear on my BlackBerry’s USB port. (It charges the battery via the gold contacts on the bottom of the phone).

Moral of the story: Just because someone tells you something is hopeless doesn’t mean it really is. I was able to save my data and save myself from a lot of trouble because I was persistent.