Mea Culpa. My faith restored in BlackBerry Protect

BlackBerry Protect Restored to Greatness
By Joseph Holder on 30 Nov 2011 02:00 pm EST

BlackBerry Protect is an app designed to rescue irreplaceable data from your BlackBerry Smartphone. It isn't designed to be used as a standalone device switch product. Its intended purpose is be used more as a last result to recover data from a lost or stolen smartphone (and then destroy the data on that phone). Not too long ago, I tried to emulate this situation, completing a backup on my BlackBerry Torch 9800 and trying to restore that data on my new BlackBerry Torch 9860. When it failed to retrieve the vast majority of my contacts, I was understandably disappointed. So, too, was RIM.

After the article ran, Research In Motion reached out to me to try and figure out just what had happened. I sent them some information about my phones, and they promised to get back to me. On Thursday, they did just that. Two product managers from the company walked me through exactly what happened.

The whole situation reminds me of an issue my sister had with transferring the license plate from one car to the other. It was a complicated situation involving a lease buy-out, a car sold, and a car bought. Things didn't go right, and the tax office tried to charge her double the amount she owed. The leasing company completed its paperwork properly, my sister completed her paperwork properly, and the car dealership completed its paperwork properly. No one did anything incorrectly, yet things still went wrong. And that, my readers, is what happened with BlackBerry Protect. 

So what happened?

Proper Order for configuring Protect

Email is central to the BlackBerry Experience. I don't mean that metaphorically or figuratively; I mean that quite literally. Several key components of our BlackBerry Smartphones link back and use email accounts to authorize themselves and work properly. Of course the Messages app uses at least one email account, but did you know BlackBerry Messenger and your contacts both use email as a way to keep things running smoothly?

It turns out that I had done everything right; I just didn't do it in the right order. You see, email is central to the BlackBerry Experience. Yes, the truth of the matter is: if I had set up my email account on my 'Berry first, none of this would have happened. My contacts would have transferred to the new device and BBM would have imported my backed up contacts. All of this would have happened long before I opened the Protect application.

How to Protect Against It

Crunchy Frog!

Obviously, I should have followed instructions. You'll notice that in the Setup application, Email Accounts appears first. BlackBerry Protect is not even second in that list. I was attempting to test the limits of Protect, but I didn't realize how heavily that application (and BlackBerry Messenger for that matter) depends on email.

As taught to me many years ago by my wonderful Computer Science teacher, Mrs. Bunn, if a user can do something, he will. At the time, this was more along the lines of a user typing a character when an integer was expected, but the principle is the same. I wasn't prevented from using Protect before setting up email, so I did.

Maybe that should change: Email has to be set up on the Smartphone before Protect can be. Perhaps Protect should be grayed out, dimmed, unavailable until at least one email account is active on the phone. Then again, there are concerns for a world-wide operation where not everyone pays for email services. Perhaps there should be a big red label, "Warning! Set up Email First!" when trying to restore with Protect. Perhaps a system like this (or something better) is already in the works.

Wrap it Up

BlackBerry Protect

And so I've spent the entire article avoiding this phrase: Mea culpa. It's my fault, BlackBerry Protect. If I had just signed in to my email accounts - something I knew you didn't protect - none of this would have happened. You do a great job at salvaging those bits of data that are irretrievable - SMS text messages, certain unsynced contacts, browser bookmarks, and others - but you're not designed to do a device switch. And that's what I tried to force you to do.

I see a bright future for you, BlackBerry Protect. I see you working side by side with BlackBerry ID to create that Over the Air device switch that I so desperately want. I see you finding my phone for me countless time. I see us working hand in hand to create BlackBerry 101 guides to help others with their Smartphones. And I see us doing all that for a long time to come. 

Reader comments

Mea Culpa. My faith restored in BlackBerry Protect


Every time i read about BlackBerry Protect i'm reminded by the vicious circle i've been stuck in for months when someone decided to block it from use in certain countries, yet to date i'm unable to get an answer as to who, or what's the reason behind that :(

Hey, I'm happy to read that BlackBerry reads this blogs.

So, I guess we can continue to sound off with constructive suggestions and hopefully we will, together, get the things we want with some help from CrackBerry and RIM actually listening.


whom did you email?
I tried to contact them because when I log into my account (from my pc) it does not show any device or anything. If i do it from my bold 9900 it shows me what i syncronised. . .
tried to contact them but only got an automatic reply . . . :(

Does BB Protect actually tell you to do this? I fell victim to the same problem, and I don't recall it telling me that I need to setup email first.

I lost not only all my protect information, but also my backed up (to 5 different email addresses) BBM list when my 9900 crashed the 4th time (JVM Error). Very frustrating.

Protect is pretty useless if you think about it. If it was really protecting our devices, you should be asked for your App World username / password, your phone says "please wait" and 15 minutes later you get

1) Your email restored
2) Your contacts restored
3) Your BBM restored

Backing up your BBM and then your email in different places is ridiculous and useless.

Not to mention switching devices - I have over 100 contacts on BBM, and at least 10 of those people are duplicates because they bought new BlackBerry's and there migration completely failed and had to add a new pin from scratch.

I had a similar issue with my wifes 9930, depending on your email settings your contacts will sync via email and you'll notice in BB Protect that it has a phone icon next to the contacts and a disclaimer at the bottom stating that contacts are wirelessly synced through another account. So after not getting her contacts back from BB Protect and only getting a few back from the email sync I went into her email settings turned off the contact syncing through her email account so that doesn'to happen again! Turned it off on my 9930 also and started a daily backup schedule on BB Protect.

BB9910, got a white screen error 102, OS7 restored by provider and protect worked great first time, ALTHOUGH it got hung on BBM contacts, did batery pull and found OS7 restore didnt include BBM, therefore may explain issue.

bb protect is jus for backin p bookmarks and memos. the 1 important thing we all need it to backup (contacts) never works properly. whenever i use it only a fraction of my contacts are restored, and many times it not the same fraction... so i still have to use dm anyways.

Great to know that RIM really cares about what is going on....but the first question that comes to my mind is: If BlackBerry relies SOOOO much on email to be safe and secure and everything come I still have NO native email on my PlayBook?? Just my thoughts, I love all of my BlackBerry products and RIM is a great company...but to say email is key to everything and then STILL not have email on the PlayBook just makes me scratch my head...

RIM has built its reputation on the security of its devices. Email has to be working and secure on the PlayBook before they can release it to the general public. We've talked about it on some of the podcasts, but suffice it to say that BlackBerry email was never designed to work on more than one device at a time. Throw in the added trouble having having to (securely) talk to and sync between multiple operating systems, and you've got yourself quite a headache.

Thanks to Joe for "manning up" and honestly revealing his nasty user habits...which we all have.

As an application delivery guy, I can tell you testing is always an exercise in trying to break a product you're just spent months creating. It's like restoring an old car and then putting through crash testing....well not quite but you get the point.

Also, kudos to RIM for following up on this and Kevin's similar set-up problems. I'm sure they will put a change in for a "pop-up" to advise users to "set-up email first" so fewer folks will experience this issue.

As for the general users, this is why I and I think many here belong to sites like this.

Definitely agree! I stumbled upon a similar issue with BBM backups and its relation with e-mails. Thanks for clearing something like this up before I really had to rely on Protect!

I don't know if this is related, but RIM just issued an update to BlackBerry Protect today (for OS 7 phones only). The notification wasn't pushed, but showed up when I refreshed my upgrade folder in App World.

it looks like i am covered. I set up my email accounts first when I got my BB. I did BB protect much later. I hope everything works well when it's time for me to use this.

Your article is enlightening. And, demonstrates that while RIM has a fantastic product in Protect, RIM has gaps in this product, how it's used and more importantly how this experience is communicated to the end user.

Something tells me, we'll see some fundamental changes soon from RIM, with regard to your experience.

Great article! I used DM Device Switch when I got my new 9930, but this is definately good information to know... and I just noticed the upgrade in App World for BB Protect to v1.1.1.50.

Wonder if this has anything to do with the issue described above?

So I know this doesn't help for this situation as you were testing the limits when switching from an OS6 device up to OS7, but at least going forward you have the OS7 native Device Switch application built in that will do what you wanted BlackBerry Protect to do from the start, or what others think Protect should be doing.

Device Switch worked great for me when I was having my bouts of replacement 9810's (I went through 5 total in the 30 days of launch...mainly hardware faults). Surprisingly enough too, it doesn't take that much space on the SD card and doesn't take nearly as long as DM makes it seem...

Recently I had a Curve 8530 and purchased a Torch 9850. I think I deleted a lot of apps and reinstalled them to make sure everything worked now that I have OS7. However, I cannot install Blackberry Protect at all. I can find it in the app store but there is no way for me to install it. Anyone know what I can do?

Until you actually need it (or mess around with it) Blackberry Protect remains one of the most underated security features on a Blackberry.
@ kirbdust do a battery pull (hard reset). It sorts 98% of the issues.

Thanks but I am in the 2%. I have done several battery pulls, reinstalled app world. No luck so far. It remains in my "Uninstalled" apps but I can't reinstall it.

As a matter of fact, I found it odd when u did that first article. Mainly because I had just done what u were trying to do a couple of weeks prior when I had my device break down and had just gotten my new from the insurance company. AS for me everything had synced proeprly, email, contacts, the whole lot.

I love Blackberry Protect. I have tried out features on it and it has alwasy worked great. I even used it when I got my 9900 and just restored a point from my 9700 with no troubles.

Approximately three months ago, I dropped my Storm 2 on mu tile floor and shattered the display. Fortunately I had insurance on the phone through Best Buy. In about five days I received another Storm 2. I dreaded doing the back up because I am not a smart phone guru. I tried it anyway and everything worked perfect. I don't remember the steps or the order of what I did, but it worked.

if this had BBM back up too it would be theeee best!!!!

when I lost my phone i got everything back except my memory card and bbm! it said that the Gmail wasnt linked with THIS device! luckily I backed my bbm up and had an old Bold lying around or it wouldnt have synced!

Ivan S. Harris

OMG, i don't have email data plan, my BIS is restricted to BBM only ... is cheaper though ... $2.50/mo

I responded to your original post, having had to switch devices and was glad I had used the desktop software to switch everything over. About a week later, I had a sync problem with the new unit, so I ended up wiping the unit and starting over. This time I used BB Protect. I was able to get everything except some text messages back. By "some" I mean that the back up skipped a month here or a month there of texts. It wasn't a deal breaker, so I just lived with the missing text messages.

Any word if there is going to be an update to Protect ? Maybe prevent these types of issues but also to allow more options and better device to device switching and integration ?


Can anyone let me know asto why i am unable to locate my phone. Does BB use the Blackberry Pi to locate a phone and can thispin be tampered with?

BlackBerry Account Email:
Web Portal Version: - scm-
Server Name:
Protected Devices: Model Client ID PIN
9800 20734071 27433251

Those are my phones details ca anyone please help???