The Definitive Guide to Backing up and Restoring your webOS Device | webOS Nation

The Definitive Guide to Backing up and Restoring your webOS Device

by Adam Marks Mon, 18 Apr 2011 11:56 am EDT

For any webOS users out there who have had to swap devices, visit the webOS Doctor, upgrade to a new phone, or just wanted to reset their phone, they have probably learned that while your Palm Profile will restore a lot of personal information stored on your device and a list of all your installed applications, it does not save most of the data saved within those application. For those who long for the old PalmOS BackupBuddy-type app that will take a complete snapshot of your device to restore in the future, you are out of luck.  This type of app just does not exist to safely restore your device, especially across different webOS versions.  Luckily, there are many other resources available that will help you almost completely restore your device to its former glory, but it will require you to jump into the homebrew arena.

If you are not into homebrew, there is really only two tasks for you to perform when preparing to restore a new device: back-up and restore the files on your USB drive and the data stored in your Palm Profile.  Unfortunately, this will not allow you to restore the majority of the data within your apps or the progress you have made in your games.  For that, you will be required to know how to homebrew, specifically having both Preware and Save/Restore installed on your device and knowledge of how to use webOS Quick Install.

So for next time you need to set up or upgrade to a new webOS device, this article should serve as the definitive source of steps to follow to properly and safely backup and restore your device.  You can also refer to our webOS Nation Tip Roundup of some advanced Backup/Restore tips that you may want to consider when restoring a new device. In addition, if you are upgrading from a webOS 1.4.5 device to a webOS 2.0 (or greater) device, there is a separate section at the end that will give you some additional information to be aware of during your upgrade.

Backing up your existing device

The first step to being able to transfer your data to a new device is of course creating a back up of your data.  Here are the actions you should perform to back upyour data:

  1. Open the Backup app on your device and perform a "Back Up Now"
  2. While in the Backup app, ensure that you know your Palm Profile email address by swiping down from the top-left to bring the Backup Application drop-down menu and choosing "Palm Profile".  Once you enter your password, you will be able to see (and edit) the email address associated with your account.
  3. Check what webOS version your device is currently running.  To do this, open up the Device Info app and scroll down to the "VERSION" row.  You may also want to open up the Updates app (called System Updates in webOS 2.0) to ensure that you are on the latest version.
  4. Open Preware, refresh the feeds, swipe down from the top-left of the screen to bring down the Preware Application dropdown menu, select "Saved Package List" and click "Update".  This will save a copy of all homebrew apps, patches and other packages you have installed
  5. If you are running webOS 2.0 or higher, you need to ensure that the Voice Dial app is the last app on your first launcher page.  The Launcher script in Save/Restore may not save any items on the first launcher page after the Voice Dial app due to an oddity of webOS 2.0
  6. Open Save/Restore, wait for the app to allow you to select one of the options available, select "Save Application Data" and click "Save Selected" (all apps are selected by default, but you can uncheck any if desired)
  7. Connect your phone to a computer and connect as a USB drive.  You should make a backup of your entire USB drive to ensure you have a copy of all your files, and be sure to make a copy of the "saverestore" directory to your computer
    • Some folders that you should not back up from the USB drive are .app-storage, .palm, and .developer
  8. Properly eject your device from USB mode

In addition to the steps above, here are some additional actions you may want to consider performing to provide some reference of how your old device was set up, as well as ensure that your data is backed up in case of a corrupt Palm Profile backup.

  1. While it can be a bit tedious, you may want to consider taking screenshots of each of your App Launcher pages.  This way, you will be able to determine if any apps were not re-downloaded and to provide a reference if your app icon locations were not restored properly
  2. If you are running webOS 1.4.5 or earlier, you may want to consider making a backup of your /var/luna/data/dbdata/PalmDatabase.db3 file. This file contains a large amount of your Palm Profile data, including contacts, calendar entries, memos and more for you to reference, providing you use a database program such as SQLite to access it.  This can be helpful on the off-chance that there is a corruption with your server backup and your Palm Profile data does not restore.
    • You can use the "Receive File" function in webOS Quick Install or you can copy the file to your USB partition of your device (that would be /media/internal) in Internalz Pro
    • Note that no similar file exists for webOS 2.0
  3. If you have made any additional "tweaks" to your device, such as replacing the boot-up image or the lock icon, you will want to make sure you have a backup for those files as well

Restoring your device

If you are activating a brand new device and do not know what webOS version the phone is running, you should activate the phone with an email address different from the one on your Palm Profile.  This will allow you to gain access to the phone and check the version in the Device Info app.  If the version is different than the one you were previously running (unless you are upgrading to a webOS 2.0 device), you should run the Updates app to bring the device up to the same version as your original device.  Once complete, you will want to reset your device by opening the Device Info app again, scrolling down to the bottom, tapping the "Reset Options" button, and then choosing "Erase Apps & Data".  Once complete, you will be brought back to the main device activation screen.

Once you are sure you have the latest webOS Version on the device, here are the steps that you should follow to restore your data to your device

  1. After a doctor/phone swap, sign back into your Palm Profile with the email address you identified in the "Backing up your data" section above.  You will be presented with a list of all your cloud-based accounts (e.g. Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, etc) that you previously loaded on to your device. For security purposes, you will need to reenter the password for each account.  You can either tap each one now to enter the password, or skip it to proceed with the activation and enter the passwords later
  2. Once your phone resets, all of your App Catalog Apps will start to reinstall and your accounts will resync all their data.  If you have Wi-Fi access, it is highly advisable that you connect to a Wi-Fi network to speed up the download process and conserve any celluar data if you are not on an unlimited plan.
    • Note that apps installed from Palms Beta or Web feeds do not reinstall automatically.  You will need to manually reinstall them
  3. After all your downloads/account syncs are complete, load up your contacts, calendar and memo apps.  If you saved any data to your Palm Profile (as opposed to a cloud-based account), check to make sure your data is there. If your Profile data did not restore, you should call Palm Tech Support as there is a chance they could manually push an older version of your Profile back to the device to restore this information.
  4. After confirming your Palm Profile data did restore to your device, resinstall Preware on your device.  
  5. Using Preware, install Save/Restore back on to your phone.  If you are prompted to install additional dependant packages, install those as well
  6. Connect your phone to a computer, connect as a USB drive, and move your old copy of the "saverestore" directory back onto the phone, along with any other data you backed up.
  7. Properly eject your device from USB mode
  8. Open Save/Restore, select "Restore Application data", select only Preware and click “Restore Selected”
  9. Immediately restart your device.  Among other things, this will ensure that the Preware feeds are converted to the proper webOS version if you are upgrading from an older version
  10. Open Preware.  If there are any "Package Updates", you would be best to install those now.  Once installed, return to the Preware home page, swipe down from the top-left of the screen to bring down the Preware Application menu, choose "Saved Package List" and click "Install All"
    • If the restore hangs for any of the packages, it may be because the package no longer exists in the feeds.  You will need to back-swipe out of the installation screen, reload the "Saved Package List", find the missing package and swipe it to delete it from the Saved Package List.  Tap "Install All" again and continue until all your packages are resintalled.
  11. If you have any apps or patches that were installed outside of the feeds (including any from Palm's Beta or Web feeds), you should manually re-install them Preware, webOS Quick Install, Internalz Pro or any other method you are familiar with
  12. For each app that you plan on restoring data to with Save/Restore, open and close each app one time in order to initialize the cookies and databases for that app
  13. Open Save/Restore, choose "Restore Application data", click "Select All" but uncheck Preware  (as well as any other apps you do not want to restore), and then click "Restore Selected"
    • If you are updating from webOS 1.4.5 to webOS 2.0 or greater, do NOT run the Launcher script.  See the section below for upgrading from 1.4.5 to 2.0.
  14. If Save/Restore did not work for any apps, ensure that the app is installed on your device you have open/closed the app at least once.  
  15. Immediately perform a Luna or Device Restart
  16. Open the Backup app on your device and perform a "Back Up Now" to ensure your backup is up to date with your latest device

At this point, anything that could be restored should be restored. You will want to go through all of the preferences apps (e.g. Screen & Lock, Sounds & Ringtones, etc) to make sure that all of your preferences are set properly.   

If you took screenshots of your Launcher pages, or if you still have your old device, you may want to compare the apps that were downloaded on your new device to ensure that none of your favorite apps are missing. 

General Notes

  • Be aware that a single Palm Profile can only exist on one active device at a time.  When you log into your Palm Profile on a new device, a message will appear on the new device warning you that the old device will be erased and ensure you want to proceed.  The next time your old device connects to a network (either cellular or Wi-Fi), it will indicate that the profile is active on a new device and will wipe the old data.
    • This will wipe the USB portion of the device as well, so be sure to backup your data prior to activating your profile on a new device
    • If you put your old device into airplane mode prior to activating the new device, you can keep your old device running.  This can help set up your new device to ensure all applications download and the icon locations are correct. But as soon as you turn off airplane mode, you device will be wiped.
    • We have heard the same profile will be able to activated on multiple devices in webOS 3.0, but until then, you need to be careful
  • Make sure to backup your Save/Restore data to your computer or an online cloud storage service.  Too many people forget this valuble step which essentially makes the Save/Restore app useless for you.
  • SMS/MMS are now backed up to your Palm Profile on webOS 2.1 and will be restored to your device automatically.  For devices running webOS 2.0.1 or lower, you can use Save/Restore will back up this data to a .html file to refer back to, but there is currently no way to restore this data using Save/Restore.
  • Not all apps are currently supported by Save/Restore, as individual scripts need to be manually written for each app. However, if you have an app that you would like added, please visit the Save/Restore Forum thread and request it.
    • Note that if it is a paid app, you may need to include a bounty so a script writer could purchase the app (read about the bounty system on the first page of the forum thread), or you can try to build a script yourself by following this walkthrough.
  • Many apps require a Luna Restart for the restore to work in Save/Restore.  Even if the app does not state that a restart is required, it's always a good idea to perform a Luna Restart immediately after performing a restore.
  • There are some additional scripts available to provide some enhanced functionality (including ZIPing up your entire "saverestore" directory), but are not installed by default.  Please refer to this readme file for details on what scripts are available and how to access them

webOS 1.x to webOS 2.x

In webOS 2.0, the App Launcher was totally rewritten.  As a result, the locations of your application icons may not be reloaded correctly upon upgrading your profile to webOS 2.0.  While the Save/Restore Launcher script is compatible with webOS 2.0, it will not be able to restore the launcher data if it was originally saved from webOS 1.x.  While you will manually have to rearrange your launcher icons, this process may be made easier if you made screenshots of your App Launcher or you still have your original webOS 1.x device in Airplane mode. Also, when rearranging large numbers of icons, it may also be helpful to use the new Rearrange Launcher Pages functionality in webOS 2.0 to prevent the need to move across multiple launcher pages

Note that once you update to webOS 2.0 or higher, your profile will no longer be able to be loaded onto a webOS 1.x device.

Closing Thoughts

So, there you have it.  All you ever needed to know about safely backing up and restoring your webOS device in almost 2,500 words. If you follow the steps above when restoring a device, you should be able to get back 99% of your data onto your new device. Just make sure to give yourself enough time to complete all these steps, as it may take a few hours if you have a lot of apps or data that need to download.