How to never EVER lose your phone contacts again

By , July 30, 2011 8:31 pm

It continually astonishes me how often I see facebook status updates / group invites / tweets / emails from friends and acquaintances saying something to the effect of “ARGH my iPhone / Blackberry / Nokia phone has been stolen / lost / eaten by my pet donkey and I lost everyone’s numbers, please can you all send me your numbers!!”

People, it’s 2011 already! Whilst technology is still far from perfect, it landed a man on the moon 42 years ago way before mobile phones existed, and certainly solved this particular problem of disappearing phones several years ago.  So for those of you who still haven’t figured this out, without further ado I will outline a solution which should only cost 10 minutes of your life and ensure you never have to broadcast a panicked message cursing your pet donkey and asking everyone to send you their numbers.

Android phones

Firstly, if you already have a phone belonging to the rapidly growing family of Android phones (such as any recent Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson or Motorola phone), then congratulations!  You’re immediately at an advantage.  If you have a Google account, you probably already linked your phone to it when you first went through the phone’s setup procedure, in which case your contacts / calendar / e-mail etc. are most likely already being automatically synchronised with your account, and are safely backed up within Google’s cloud.  To make sure, visit http://google.com/contacts and you should see all your contacts listed in a very nice interface which lets you do other handy things like automatically merge duplicate contacts.

If you don’t see your contacts there, or you don’t have a Google account and/or never linked your phone with a Google account, take the following simple steps:

  1. Create a Google account if you don’t have one already (it’s free)
  2. On your phone, go to the Settings menu, select “Accounts & sync settings”, and then ensure that your Google account is listed and that sync is enabled.

iPhones, Blackberries, Nokia / Windows / other vaguely modern phones

Again the solution I would recommend is to set up automatic synchronization to a Google Account, because it’s free, proven to work, and means your data is backed up in the Google cloud, which statistically speaking is a far safer place to store your contacts than one of your own hard drives.  Instructions for these phones are listed here: http://www.google.com/mobile/sync/

Even if you have a “dumb” (non-smart) phone, unless it is really ancient, the chances are that it supports SyncML which means that the above will work.  If however your phone is so old that it doesn’t even support SyncML then I would simply recommend that you upgrade.  Modern mobile handsets are so sophisticated that even the cheapest, most basic models (given away for free with low-cost contracts) will support SyncML.

It’s more than just contacts

If you follow the above suggestions, you’ll find that your phone’s calendar will automatically get synchronized too.

Non-Google solutions

If for some strange reason you are highly anti-Google, there are of course plenty of other options.  I’m not going to go into detail here, but here’s some food for thought:

Wrapping up

That’s all for now.  Hope it was useful – feel free to leave comments.  Oh, and here are two final suggestions for what to do if you see one of your poor friends send out a facebook message like the one at the top of this article:

  • DON’T respond by posting your mobile phone number on their wall (do you really want the whole world to have your number?)
  • Send them the link to this article.

 

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5 Responses to “How to never EVER lose your phone contacts again”

  1. Christof says:

    Just don’t forget to also backup your contacts once in a while on your computer. There is always the possibility that something goes wrong with the sync or your google account.

  2. Bobby says:

    I used http://www.forgotyourphone.com and it backed up my contacts and my appointments so when i lost my phone i just downloaded them back onto it.

  3. roy cooper says:

    Having lost over 5 years of contacts when my ‘faithful’ phone with sim card was stolen, I wanted a way to allow anyone with my mobile number (which is now defunct) to make contact with me. I have a new number now, but no one know it.
    So I built a website, http://www.renewcontact.com where anyone can register a phone number and have it linked to an active email address.
    It means that my old contacts can go there, search for my number and send me an email with their contact details. I can then decide whether I want to respond or not, after all, there will be some contacts whom I don’t want to renew contact with. Anyone in the same situation as I was, may like to go there and register their phone number. Since I launched it, quite a few have made use of the free service.
    Some are also registering really old phone numbers, that have long been dead, hoping I guess that friends from the past will find them and renew contact.
    I hope this site is of use to many.

  4. Eddie says:

    Never EVER? Except when google pull the plug on syncml.
    http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=135937

  5. Adam says:

    Nope – you don’t need SyncML to access or export your contacts from Google.

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