The backup plan is going away. Palm has notified users of its Palm Online Backup Beta service that the service will not come out of beta testing. It will be closed on January 16, 2009, at 12pm Pacific Time.
Palm's email to the system's users:
"After this date, the beta will be closed and the data you have stored
through this service will be purged and no longer accessible. We want you to have a smooth transition. Please remove the Backup Beta application from your Palm device..."
I hasten to add, as did Palm, that the "purge" will not affect any data stored on the phone itself, only the information that has been transmitted as a backup to their servers. I reviewed the Backup Beta service just after its launch in April of 2007. I gave it low marks for features, and a good-but-ho-hum rating overall. It worked fine, and solved a problem for many people: backing up their smartphones in a restorable-from-anywhere manner. Great concept, well implemented.
Let's say you use one or other of the many non-Palm backup programs that are available for your Centro or Treo. To restore it, in the event of disaster, you need to have the SD card that you keep it on, and you might not have brought it along on your trip to Lake Louise, or to the Hog Callin' Contest at the annual Chitlin' Strut Below is a photo taken at the hog calling contest at the 2006 Chitlin' Strut. The event always happens on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving in Salley, South Carolina.
Palms' well-thought-out service could restore your data OTA over the air, wherever you hung your rhinestone encrusted (or not) hat. Your information lived on their servers till you needed it, and (assuming you spring for a data plan from your cell carrier, of course) could be accessed from anywhere the phone or its replacement (depending on the disaster), has a decent signal. I don't know about the remote regions of Lake Louise, but you'll likely get plenty of bars at the Strut.
The service started off free, and free's a great price, but Palm said that was only while the beta testing process continued. They'd charge a monthly fee eventually. Looks like that won't ever happen, since the Online Backup Beta won't ever exit beta state. Until January 30th, 2009, users of the service disgruntled or not can claim a 20-percent discount on Treo or Centro accessories from the Palm Store by using a checkout code that Palm sent with the email announcement. Palm's offering advice on deleting the application from the smartphone.
If you store important data on your smartphone, one thing you need is a backup plan, OTA or otherwise. The HotSync operation synchronizes between your computer and your mobile device, but it doesn't get everything. If disaster strikes, as disaster is wont to do, your mobile would be a fraction of its former self depending on how recently you HotSync'd it. A backup program helps you over this hazard, though of course it's only worth the cost and hassle if you need it, and it only works if you use it diligently.