Backing up 3rd party applications on your BlackBerry

Backing Up 3rd Party Apps
By Alicia Erlich on 11 Oct 2010 11:18 am EDT

Now that we've learned to backup and restore device data using Desktop Manager 6, it's time to review how quick and simple it is to do the same thing with third-party applications. No matter what the reason, this will save you the hassle of downloading everything all over again. However, when upgrading to an entirely new OS (i.e. OS4 to OS5, OS5 to OS6) you will need to check on compatibility. Keep reading for the full steps on backing up your 3rd party applications.


First, load the desktop software and connect your device with the USB cable. For those that don't have the latest version you can download here. At the upper left corner click on Device and scroll down to Switch Devices. In the box that appears click on the icon of your phone.

Backing Up Apps

Next, you will be asked to select which data you would like to backup. Remove the checkmark next to device data and make sure that third-party applications is selected and click on Next. This will start the process of retrieving the application information off your device.

Backing Up Apps

Backing Up Apps

Backing Up Apps

Technically, we are using the device switch wizard to backup application data as it is not built into DM6. Therefore, when you see the above screen asking you to connect your new device, click on Cancel.

The important thing to remember is this: Do not exit out of Desktop Manager. The backup files are in a temp folder named for your pin # that will be erased if the program is closed. In order to prevent this, you will need to move the folder to another location while DM is still running. You can search for the folder a few different ways depending on your system. Windows XP users can click on Start Menu > Search and type in your pin number or go to Start > Run and type in %temp%. This will automatically load your temp directory where you can see the yellow folder. Windows Vista/7 users can type %temp% into the search bar by clicking on the Windows Button in the lower left hand corner or can locate the pin folder by following this path: C:\Users\[name]\AppData\Local\Temp.

Backing Up Apps

When you have located the file with your pin #, copy and paste it from the temp directory and place it on your desktop for easy access or in a designated backup file you have created. All of your application modules are now safe and sound on your computer.


When you load DM6, click on Applications from the menu on the left. After it scans and detects your device, click on Import files on the upper right. By default the explorer box will go to your documents directory. Browse through your hard drive to find where you have placed the backup folder. In this folder you will find and select the .alx file (pin #) and click Open. The applications to be added/restored are then loaded into the desktop manager and appear at the bottom under application summary and coded as Install.

Backing Up Apps

Backing Up Apps

Backing Up Apps

To complete the process simply click on Apply at the lower right hand corner of the program.

Backing Up Apps 

Backing Up apps

When complete, Desktop Manager will default back to the applications screen and scan your phone again. Some applications might require a reboot to finish the process. Do not remove your phone until it has rebooted and is recognized by DM. Finally, you can safely unplug your device and be happy knowing all your apps are backed up.

Reader comments

Backing up 3rd party applications on your BlackBerry


This option should really be built into DM. I have had issues with this on 5.0.1. Have not tried it in 6 yet, hope its better.

Yes, there are no ways to back up the license code, except if the program's manufacturer built in that ability.

shouldn't RIM have provided this kind of backup option in Desktop Manager? ... its a good work around to know though.

The problem with backup and restore is that very few applications have actually implemented the synchronization API. This means that none of their settings (license codes, preferences, etc) will get backed up.

This API is poorly documented and not well understood. Hopefully RIM will either improve it in the future, or write some good knowledgebase articles on it. More developers need to implement it.

Thanks for this excellent guide! I'm expecting the new is to drop for my 9700 any time now and planning doing a security wipe before I do any upgrade. This would be useful in that I can restore my applications.

Have used this method dozens of times and it works the similarly in 6.x as it it id in 5.x versions or DM. I use this method every time I install a new OS and and / or very time I install a new app- I simply made it part of my routine backup process- I do agree it should be part of the DM utilities.

In addition yes- most Keys & Licenses will have to be re-input - but then one must do that even if they re-download and install all apps manually! This is definitely a time saver ! I usually load thee new OS/ do battery 3-4 pulls/ Restore my data and then load the apps.

important note: DM6 (and also previous versions) turns off the device radio when starting the device switch wizard.

so remember to turn it back on when you're done.

another note: I once needed to wipe my device, so I used the device switch wizard, and at the connect new device screen, I disconnected my device, wiped it and reconnected hoping to continue the wizard as if this were my new device. BUT THAT DOESN'T WORK, apparently the device switch wizard saw the same pin and refused to continue, (I copied the temp files and used them for a restore, but it would have been smoother if I could do it all in one step).

I've often used this technique, but have always been suspicious of it.

Is there a benefit to installing fresh, versus restoring from back-up? I'm not knowledgeable in RIM's methods, but familiar with how applications on Windows spread their fingers into registry entries often resulting in fragments left behind.

Is there any danger of corrupt installs or propagating memory leaks when apps are restored to the BB OS?

This backup only backs up the .cod files themselves - which are not altered during use. When you install with the .cod files, it's a fresh install. From there you can restore settings etc. and maybe it's better to do them fresh, probably it probably does not matter.

I do caution transferring any settings from OS5 to OS6 - whether by the device switch wizard or restoring from a backup file. With 3rd party apps, it's probably ok as long as you make sure there's not a different version of the app for OS6.

When using a backup file to restore OS5 settings to OS6 I recommend only restoring data like calendar, contacts, memos, notes, etc. - you can use the select items to restore option - and doing the rest of the settings manually. This will help you learn the new options and menu layout in OS6 and avoid some complications that seem to have arisen.

I've used this method twice before to back up and restore third party apps, and find it simple and efficient. No problems with the apps once they are restored. This is a great how to article. Keep up the good work Alicia.

I just sold my 8900 to a someone with no BB experience so I wanted him to have access to all the applications I had installed on the device, yet wanted to clean off my personal info. I decided to perform the wipe via DM6 instead of the "Wipe Handheld" option on the device. To my surprise, the wipe was successful yet all my hard work invested in 3rd party apps was in tact! Just throwing it out there in case anyone here was thinking of wiping using DM.

I can understand why you blurred out the Phone Number and Pin.... but what is the significance of blurring out the version of software? lol

That is really awesome since I don't use the most up to date version of the desktop software. I downgraded myself since the version you are referring to does not give you the simple option of just picking one file in one folder to move to your pc from your phone. It forces you to either move the entire folder or create another folder on your phone and you move your files to that folder just to move to your pc. Please, if someone reading this says that you can do it the same way that we have been able to, then I would seriously like them to contact me! I have tirelessly for hours tried to figure out why BB would make it that way and to make some other way of doing that possible. I like the old way, much more simpler and quicker! Until they change the way it is currently done, I have no interest in upgrading and in May, I am will be eligible to get a new phone, I may not be getting a BB if some serious changes are not made!