BlackBerry Protect 

We've discussed BlackBerry Protect quite a few times here on the blogs. It's a free service available from Research In Motion for its BIS customers. Generally if you purchase your phone from a carrier, you're on a BIS. BlackBerry Protect allows you find your phone when it's missing and destroy your data should all become lost.

But what actually happens when your smartphone goes missing? If you're a BB Protect user (and if you're not, did I mention that this is all free?), you've probably played around with the lesser features of the service. I, for one, use the Loud Ring function quite often. I'm not so good at keeping up with my phone; BlackBerry Protect is. Locking the phone; sending it a message; and locating your BlackBerry on a map using its GPS coordinates is fun, if not a little creepy. But what about that last feature, Wipe Device? 

This is why you come to to learn from our bonehead entirely-understandable-considering-the-circumstances mistakes. To begin, BlackBerry Protect doesn't back up everything. The app is very up-front and clear about what it can back up remotely; future versions of the app will recover more data, but it's still less data than you'd get with a Desktop Software backup. Second, a security wipe from BlackBerry Protect destroys everything except the OS. I've done a few security wipes in my time, so I have only myself to blame.

A security wipe removes all data 

I knew that the wipe would delete my emails, remove all of my installed apps, and destroy any personal information on my phone. But I should have paid more attention to that last bit. You see, my 4 and 16 GB memory cards are included in "personal information."

Before the wipe, I had carefully gone though all of my third-party apps, saving to the memory card any and all settings that I could. After the wipe, I was left with nearly 20 GB of blank space; my pictures, movies, and music were gone. In a word, "D'oh!" 

In addition, BlackBerry Protect only grabs a small portion of the data on the phone when doing an OTA backup. You'll get contacts, calendars, and tasks back, but not much else. Sure, if that's all you can get, that's great; it's better than nothing. This just goes to show that BlackBerry Protect is not a substitute for regular backups using BlackBerry Desktop Software.

So please, let this be a warning. BlackBerry Protect is an exceptional free product, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. Keep regular backups using BlackBerry Desktop Software, and don't play around with that Wipe Device option. When they say, "Wipe Device," they really do mean it.