Your BlackBerry; your life is literally in your hands. You’ve confided in it more information than you would ever dare to with your significant other or best friend. Private personal messages, embarrassing photos, delicate corporate information; your BlackBerry smartphone can store it all. But what happens if your BlackBerry loses it? Or worse yet - you lose your BlackBerry? Dun Dun Dunnnnnnn!!! You feel your body go cold and numb with fear, except for the incredibly sick feeling that’s building up in your stomach. Your lips fight to hold back the flurry of expletives demanding to be released.
At this point, you’re frantically searching for it, calling it, desperately hoping to hear it ring or vibrate. Some are lucky and are reunited, others have to come to terms with their loss. Despair quickly shifts back to fear as you realize another reality – Whose hands are my BlackBerry in now?!? Unless they’re a good Samaritan, they now have access to everything, reveling in what was once your property. If only you had backed up your information. If only you could track its location. If only you could wipe it remotely. If only…you had SmrtGuard!
SmrtGuard was created by a company of the same name. We have previously looked at some of their other products -- Follow Up! and PeeKaWho -- and SmrtGuard has been mentioned on the blogs a few times before but had yet to go under my full review process. It’s available for BlackBerrys running OS 4.2 or higher and, for this review, we looked at version 1.80. The application is designed to help you keep tabs on your BlackBerry and its contents. You know, because it likes to sneak out when you’re sleeping and get into a little trouble now and then. Without having to dash to your computer, the application grants you the power to wirelessly backup data found on your BlackBerry smartphone. On top of that, if your BlackBerry finds itself too deep and doesn’t come home that night, you can slip down into your Batcave, login at smartguard.com and begin sleuthing. Let’s see what SmrtGuard has in its utility belt.
On your BlackBerry smartphone
the main menu
Looking behind the application icon/shield, you will find four buttons at the main screen, in order:
Backup: The backup feature can be activated manually or can be set to automatic. You can set backups to occur daily, weekly or monthly. When choosing the automatic backup feature, you can choose specific days and time (every hour on the hour). Below the setup for automatic backup, you will find the Backup status field. Here, you can select/deselect which items to backup; choose between; contacts, memos, tasks, events, call logs, emails and SMS. After each back up, you can see the status of each item. For example: my Memos would show “Success Mon 20”, which means I successfully backed up my Memos on Monday, the 20th of this month. The backup process does take a few minutes to perform, though no longer than you would find with the BlackBerry Desktop Manager.
Restore: This menu is a little more simplified. Here, you can select/deselect the items you wish to restore/retrieve from the server. When restoring, you do run the risk of creating duplicate entries, so the application will ask if you want to delete what is on your BlackBerry first.
Your Data: There isn’t much functionality in this section. It serves to show you the current entry count in each of your items (memo, event, email, etc).
FollowMe: SmrtGuard will ask if you will be traveling on foot or in vehicle. If by foot, you will be tracked every 5 minutes, if by vehicle, it’s every 3 minutes. Once you stop the FollowMe feature, you can head over to the Web Dashboard and see where you have traveled.
SmrtGuard also includes two additional features to help keep you and your BlackBerry from falling into the wrong hands:
Personal-Guardian: Similar to what you would find with Emporia/ CLARiTY products, SmrtGuard can send out emergency calls, SMS and email with a push of a button. Once activated, you will only have to press/hold the menu key for 8 seconds to communicate with your emergency contacts. The application has 911 entered into the Phone and SMS contact by default, but can be changed. You cannot access your address book for these fields. Where you can access is in the email field. For emails, you will also be asked to create a subject and body. In the email, your location info will be listed as well (based on cellular triangulation).
SIMCard Guardian: This will keep track of which SIM cards are registered and authorized to be in your BlackBerry. A list of registered SIM cards will be listed below, which can be removed if need be.
The SmrtGuard Backup
From the Dashboard
After you login to the SmrtGuard Web Dashboard, you are granted access to some excellent tracking/monitoring options, as well as your backed up items. Lets look at the dashboard first and the options available to you.
From the dashboard, you can locate and start/stop tracking your BlackBerry. You’ll be able to view the generalized information by using Google Maps, and by choosing Track My BB, it will show its location every 5 minutes. It’s not pin point accurate, but it does help narrow down your search. By default, you can view location history for the past 24 hours, but you can increase or decrease this value if need be. On the map, you can see various markers indicating information including; the hot location marker, last known location, previous location markers and a recorded GPS location. Now besides you wanting to know where your BlackBerry is, people may want to know where you are WITH your BlackBerry. SmrtGuard offers a feature called Loved-One Tracker which will allow others (by your permission) to see your location, if available. Other option include:
Audio Ping: Sends a command to your BlackBerry to sound an annoying sound. This is used to help you find your phone- if it’s somewhere in your house/place of work or possibly to freak out whomever has your BlackBerry. This can be done via dashboard or through email.
Lock Device: Remotely lock your device. Like Audio Ping, use the dashboard or email to perform this action.
Remote Listen: oooo sneaky! From the dashboard you can input a number for your missing BlackBerry to call. It’s designed to let you listen in to the surroundings of your BlackBerry. I found two issues with this, based on security issues I presume; the person who is in possession of your BlackBerry will see the outgoing call on the screen and the feature won’t activate if your device is holstered.
Self-Destruct: Minus the carnage and explosions, this feature will wipe out your personal data. This data includes call logs, data on your media card, media stored in your device memory, tasks, email/PIN messages, contacts, memos and calendar entries.
SmrtGuard organizes and lets you view the data you have backed up wirelessly. This information can be rearranged, deleted and exported to CSV or XML formats.
Access your backed up files
Loved-One Tracker setup
It’s always better to be safe than sorry folks. With SmrtGuard, your information will definitely be much safer. The wireless backup and restore adds some much needed convenience. Tracking of you and/or your BlackBerry, provides ease of mind. I was kind of hoping to have the ability to add/edit contacts from the web, as programs for other devices (Motorola Phone Tools, Nokia PC Suite, etc) allows for this. This subscription based application is available through the CrackBerry App Store; you can get the annual service for $44.99, the semi-annual (6 month) service for $22.99 and a monthly service for $3.99. For more information, or to buy SmrtGuard, click here.
- Simple UI
- Remote tracking and wiping
- Wireless backup and restore
- The price is reasonable, but the cheaper the better (if only RIM were to include this function natively)