Reset and Restore Your Phone

Reset and Restore Your Phone

Reset your phone without losing data or custom settings.

As a power user, you often need to fiddle with your phone to try out new software, experiment with new configuration settings, or even clear up viruses or other malicious programs. This fiddling can sometimes cause the phone software to crash, freeze, or otherwise behave abnormally (e.g., it will be unable to connect to the network or unable to run some programs). Some phone viruses discussed in "Avoid Malicious Software" [Hack #22] can also freeze your phone. This is when the reset feature in Nokia phones comes in handy. In this hack, you will learn not only how to reset your phone, but also how to back up and restore data in a systematic manner.

Two Types of Resets

Nokia phones can handle two types of resets: normal reset and deep reset.

1.1 Normal reset.

On a Series 40 device, you can do a normal reset via the Settings Restore factory settings menu. The normal reset simply resets the most basic phone settings, such as the security code, whether to enable speed dialing, the display brightness, and the screensaver time-out, to their factory preset values. It does not alter the applications mapped to the right soft key (i.e., the GoTo key), nor does it alter any of the network connection settings.

On a Series 60 device, you can do a normal reset by entering the service code *#7780# on the phone's idle screen, as though you are making a phone call. Alternatively, you can use the Tools Settings Phone settings General Orig. factory settings menu to perform the normal reset.

The Series 60 normal reset does everything the Series 40 normal reset does. In addition, it forces the phone to reload all the .ini files from the Read-Only Memory (ROM) to the C: drive under the Symbian OS. Hence, many application settings are restored. For instance, a normal reset on a Series 60 phone restores the soft-key shortcuts on the idle screen to factory settings, deletes the phone's Bluetooth name, eliminates all the GPRS access point settings [Hack #10], and resets data storage options in the Camera or Messaging application to "Phone memory" [Hack #21]. The email Inbox settings [Hack #60], however, are left untouched.

The phone prompts you for the current security code before it resets itself. The default security code is 12345.

On both Series 40 and Series 60 phones, the normal reset leaves intact all the user data on the phone, such as contacts, calendar items, wallpapers, images, tones, messages, and third-party applications. While it is a safe operation, the normal reset is of limited value, since most of the time it is the user data that messes up the phone. A much more powerful reset is a deep reset.

1.2 Deep reset.

Deep reset is not available on Series 40 phones, since user data and applications on those devices do not have direct access to the operating system, and hence, cannot crash the phone unless it is in bad shapein which case, you should have it repaired.

If you need to delete all the contacts or images on a Series 40 phone, you have to do it manually. The Nokia PC Suite [Hack #15] provides a phone content browser that can help you speed up your cleaning procedures.

On a Series 60 device, a deep reset is equivalent to reformatting the C: drive and wiping out all the user data in the phone's internal flash memory. The data on the MultiMediaCard (MMC) card, however, is not touched. You can reformat the MMC card via the Options Format mem. card menu in the Extras Memory menu. You can force a deep reset on a Series 60 device in two ways:

  • If your phone can still boot up, you can enter the service code *#7730# in the idle screen.

  • If your phone does not boot into the idle screen, you need to hold the green Call key, the * key, and the number 3 key simultaneously while you power on the phone.

Although the MMC card should not be reformatted during a deep reset, you should probably take your MMC card out of the phone before doing a deep reset to be on the safe side.

You should see the word formatting on the screen during the deep reset.

It is very important that the phone has power while it is formatting. Do not take the battery out in the middle of formatting! In fact, I recommend that you connect the phone to an AC adapter before you do a deep reset.

Of course, after a deep reset "fixes" your phone's problems, you still need to restore some of the user data to make the phone useful again. That is more complex than simply resetting and requires you to plan a backup strategy before you start fiddling with the phone. Backing up and restoring give you the ability to roll the phone back in time to the stable and useable state before your latest failed experiments. In the rest of this hack, I will discuss data backup and restore strategies.

Automatic Backup and Restore

Nokia provides tools to automatically back up and restore the flash memory in your Series 60 phone (i.e., the C: drive). You can do it via a companion PC or via the phone's MMC card, which is not formatted during a deep reset. Automatic backup is easy to use and is safe in most occasions.

2.1 Use the PC Suite.

The Nokia PC Suite [Hack #15] allows you to back up the entire content of the phone's internal memory (the C: drive) to a PC file. The full backup file includes the following:

  • Contacts

  • Calendar items

  • Documents such as notes, email messages, and MMS messages

  • Images and other media files in the phone's Gallery

  • Settings including GPRS access points, email, and other connection settings

  • Personal preferences such as wallpaper, ring tones, and speed-dial shortcuts

  • Applications including Symbian C++ and Java programs

I recommend doing the backup periodically. If you mess up and have to do a deep reset, you can locate the closest clean backup file and restore it to the phone via the PC Suite. The PC Suite puts your backup files into %SystemRoot%\Nokia\Phone Model\Backup (e.g., C:\Nokia\Nokia 3650\Backup for a typical backup for a Nokia 3650 phone).

The PC Suite also allows you to back up and restore a subset of data in the flash memory. You can choose any combination of the following four categories of data: contacts, calendar items, documents, and images.

2.2 Use the MMC card.

You can back up everything in the phone's main memory to the MMC card via the Extras Memory menu. Just choose the Options

Backup phone mem. menu and the data is backed up in a file, E:\Backup\Backup.arc, on the MMC card (see Figure).

Backing up the entire phone memory to a file on the MMC card

When you decide to restore the phone memory from the backup file, just choose the Options Restore from card menu in the Extras Memory menu. The phone will reboot itself after the memory contents are restored.

The Backup.arc file is written over every time you perform a backup. So, by default, you can recover to the phone state only at the last backup time. To work around this, you can copy the Backup.arc file off the memory card after each backup and archive it on your computer periodically. If you need to recover to an earlier date, you can copy the correct Backup.arc file back to the memory card and then perform the restore operation.

Manual Backup and Restore

The automatic backup and restore solution is easy and effective. But it requires discipline to back up your data regularly and to remember to back it up before each experiment. It is also less useful if the backup interval is too long and too much user data is changed between backups. In addition, if your phone is infected with a virus before the last backup and you have just noticed the virus now, how do you know which past backup is the clean one that can be safely restored?

Using manual methods described in this section, you will be able to selectively back up some of your phone data right before the deep reset, and then restore it after the reset. Here, I assume that you can still boot up your phone and operate it.

Even if your phone is fully functional and is not affected by malicious programs, you can still optimize the phone's memory by "refreshing" it. The manual backup process before refreshing gives you the opportunity to eliminate stale data and programs.

3.1 Connection settings.

First, you should back up your current network settings, such as SMS server numbers, email settings [Hack #60], and GPRS access points [Hack #10]. You can simply go through the phone and write down those settings on a piece of paper for your records. After resetting, you can manually enter those settings back into the phone.

Some versions of the Nokia PC Suite (e.g., the PC Suite for Nokia 3650) provide a utility to back up and restore phone connection settings in a PC file. You can use the utility to automate the connection settings backup process.

3.2 PIM data.

The phone's Personal Information Manager (PIM) data, such as contacts and calendar items, can be synchronized with PIM applications on desktop computers [Hack #36], [Hack #37], and [Hack #38]. You can synchronize them back to the phone after the reset.

If synchronization is not an option for you, you can use the backup and restore utility on the Nokia PC Suite, and request that it back up/restore the contacts and calendar data only (see the previous section in this hack).

Or, if you want to pick and choose which PIM items to back up, you can copy them to the PC via the Nokia PC Suite's phone browser. The PIM items appear as .vcf (for contacts) and .vcs (for calendar items) files on the PC. When you copy them back, the phone automatically converts them to the phone's internal format.

3.3 Documents.

The best way to save documentssuch as the email messages, MMS messages, audio/video files, and imagesfrom being erased in a deep reset is to save them in the MMC card, which you can take out of the device when you do the deep reset. You can configure the Messaging and Camera applications to automatically save files to the MMC card. Please see "Manage Your Phone's Memory" [Hack #21] for more information on this subject.

If you do not save the phone documents in the MMC card, you can still copy and save everything in the phone's Gallery and Messages folders to a PC via the PC Suite before the deep reset.

3.4 Applications.

If you have installed your applications on the MMC card, they will still be available on the phone's Main menu after the deep reset. However, the Application Manager program might not keep track of them anymore. So, you might lose the ability to update or remove those applications. For the Application Manager to work, you need to copy the contents of the C:\System\Install\ directory to the E:\System\Install\ directory on the MMC card. Those directories contain the installers (i.e., the .sis archive file) of applications installed on the device (see Figure). Since those system directories are not available in the Nokia PC Suite's phone browser, you have to copy them manually using a program such as FExplorer.

If you did not install applications on the MMC card and you have not backed up the entire phone memory using an automatic backup method covered in the previous section, you must reinstall all the applications from scratch.

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