Backing up those critical contacts

David Strom explains how you can access your contacts anytime, any where.

Backing up those critical contacts
By David Strom

Category: Online contact manager
Name of tool: Web Address Book
Company name: Norada Inc.
Price: Free
URL: www.junglemate.com
Windows platforms supported: All
Quick description: Online contact manager that is secure and simple.

Strom-meter:
**** = Very cool, very useful

Key features: Upload contacts and files, and view them in your Web browser. Create e-mail messages and text files via browser, as well.

Pros:
Supports a wide variety of PC file formats
Simple and fast to search through contacts

Cons:
No direct export of Outlook and Notes formats
Limited to 7M bytes of disk space for file storage
No direct support for PDAs

Description:
One of the most critical files that any office worker has to deal with is their list of contacts. Some of us keep this in various PC programs, such as ACT, Outlook, or Notes. Some of us synchronize it with our Palms or other PDAs, so we have a portable version when we travel. But the method I use the most often is to make a copy of my contacts and upload it to junglemate.com's Web site. This method gives me the critical information I need from any Internet-connected computer.

It is fast. It is easy. It is secure. And it is completely free. All good reasons to do it.

Even if you own a PDA, having a Web-based version of your contacts makes sense. What happens if your PDA is lost or stolen? You need a quick means of having a backup of this critical information, and what better way than to have it live on someone else's Web server?

There are numerous Web sites that offer contact managers besides Junglemate. Myphonebook.com, Scheduleonline.com, My.Palm.net, Magicaldesk.com, My.Yahoo.com and Visto.com all offer this feature, but each has its limitations. Most of these services only support a limited number of file formats. Some offer two-way synchronization services with either your PC or your PDA, but the synchs are needlessly complicated. In either case, I think uploading your new information is probably a safer and simpler method anyway.

Of the competition, the one service that comes closest to Junglemate's is My.Palm's service. You don't have to be a Palm owner to take advantage of this site; you can use its services with either a Palm or a Pocket PC, or without any PDA whatsoever and just upload your contact information directly from your desktop PC. You will need to first install the synchronization software on your desktop however, which makes it a bit more of a pain than Junglemate's service, which doesn't require any synch software at all.

I liked the search feature on Junglemate. It is easy and very fast. You can customize the view you see in your browser, but for most of us the defaults are just fine.

My one major issue is that I needed to first convert my Outlook address book into a comma-separate file before I could upload it to Junglemate's site. Other products support the Outlook format directly, although like My.Palm, you will need to first download their synchronization software tool to get your Outlook data sent to their Web sites.

Beside comma-separated files, Junglemate also supports Microsoft Excel and Access file formats, as well as Lotus Organizer and Netscape's LDIF address book format.

Junglemate service does more than manage your contacts for you. It has several other features: you can upload up to 7M bytes of files to a shared storage area, you have your own e-mail account, you can bookmark and save Web addresses to share them among several PCs, and you can create and save text notes via your browser. All in all, this is a terrific service -- and even worthwhile if it cost some cash. But given that it is free, it is really a bargain. And you can't have too many backups for your critical contact information, either.

Strom-meter key:
**** = Very cool, very useful.
*** = Hey, not bad. One notch below very cool.
** = A tad shaky to install and use but has some value.
* = Don't waste your time. Minimal real value.

About the author:
David Strom is president of his own consulting firm in Port Washington, NY. He has tested hundreds of computer products over the past two decades working as a computer journalist, consultant and corporate IT manager. Since 1995 he has written a weekly series of essays on Web technologies and marketing called Web Informant. You can send him e-mail at david@strom.com.


Related book

Windows NT Backup and Recovery
By John McMains
Publisher: Osborne
ISBN/CODE: 0078823633
Cover Type: Soft Cover
Pages: 474
Published: April 1998
Summary:
This comprehensive book is required reading for anyone who designs and/or administers NT networks. It provides the advice and information you need to properly protect your system from disaster, along with critical tips on how to cut your losses if the worst happens. Learn how to diagnose disk structure problems, blue screens of death and network-related failures. Discover NT clustering technology that allows you to link NT servers together in a high availability cluster -- making your network more stable for mission-critical applications. Develop a thorough understanding of the Emergency Repair Process. Build bulletproof systems with the latest RAID technologies. Learn cutting-edge backup techniques, including image Backup, Hierarchical Storage Management and Digital Versatile Disk. Create an exacting disaster recovery plan to protect data and systems if the worst occurs.


This was first published in August 2001

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