Have you ever received a message from someone stating that they lost all their contacts? I have seen it countless times. Whether it be a post on Facebook asking for their friends phone numbers, or a response to a text sent out asking, “who is this?”. A week ago a friend of mine did just that, responding to my text apologizing and asking who this was.
We live in a world where the majority of the population no longer memorizes phone numbers. All our contacts are safely stored in our phones. What happens when our phone is stolen or lost? Sometimes our smart phones need to be reset, or even have glitches, which can erase all the information on your phone. Maybe it is your first time using a smart phone and you aren’t sure how to transfer your numbers from your old phone to your new one.
My boss once told me how amazed he was when Verizon was able to transfer his contacts from his old iPhone to his new iPhone, with a device that every major phone carrier has in there store. That is something that phone companies have been able to do for over a decade.
If this sounds confusing, or you’re brand new to the world of smart phones, this list of simple ways to never lose your contacts again, will allow you to live worry free. These simple precautions will help anyone from having a huge headache. No matter what brand of phone you own, these steps will work for you.
Never again deal with the hassle of programming your contacts into your new phone. Unless of course you’re adding a contact for the very first time. Hopefully after reading this, you will never have to deal with going in to a retail store and asking someone that has limited knowledge in permanently storing contacts for you. After all, who wants actual human interaction?
# 1 Save in Cell Phone Carriers Online Address Book
Many smart phone owners are unaware of their cell phone carriers personal online address book. Think of it as a limited address book for only those important contacts you never want to lose. After all, depending on your carrier, you are limited to the amount of contacts you can save. Other times, a carrier may provide an unlimited contact storage, but only for compatible devices.
AT&T for example only has a limited amount of phones that are compatible with this option. 170 different phones to be exact. Sadly, iPhones are not compatible with this option. There is no need to fret for those iPhone users out there! You’ll just have to scroll down the list to see what works for your phone. The AT&T provides you with a service called AT&T Address Book, which allows you to save and sync your contacts to their server. Verizon allows iPhone, Android, and Window users to backup contacts on their Backup Assistant using their form of cloud service.
Sprint over the years has also followed suit, and created a Mobile Sync personal address book which you can manage through your ‘My Sprint’ Account. Unfortunately, on July 30th, 2014, T-Mobile discontinued this option from their carrier service, as there had been a significant decrease in usage, due to other ways to sync and save contacts. This is very disappointing, as T-Mobile allowed you to save up to 5,000 contacts on their secure T-Mobile server. If you would like to see more, please check out T-Mobile Contacts for more information on this.
Because I am located in the US, I have listed the top four carriers for US Cellular Service. Canada also has similar options to save or ‘sync’ your contacts through their various wireless service carriers. Rogers One Number is a way to link or all your devices to your phone. It’s a service that gives you a variety of services. For example, the ability to reroute a call to another phone or device if your phone dies, or can help sync contacts to multiple devices, so you won’t lose your contacts, even when your phone is lost or stolen!
No matter what Cellular Service Provider you have, you can probably count on that particular company having its own unique way of saving or backing up your contacts online on your account page. Although I’m not too sure about carriers further abroad such as those in Asia.
# 2 Sync to Email Service Providers
Maybe you are switching over from one OS (Operating System) to another simply because you found it easier for you to use. Switching phones is hard enough. Learning to use new operating systems can be even more difficult. Say for example you’re switching over from a Window’s Phone to an iPhone. Or perhaps you didn’t really like the feel of the iPhone, and wanted to express yourself through your phone. You may have switched over to the Android platform. If you’ve done this, you’ll notice that each Android phone has a unique layout to it. For example, the Samsung Galaxy flagship series is quite a bit different than your HTC One phone when it comes to pre-installed applications, or even the way the home screen may look.
The bottom line is, no matter what type of phone you have, saving your contacts and syncing them directly to your email address will be the best assurance to never lose your contacts. It is probably the easiest way to edit contacts as well. You are even able to edit or add contacts from your tablet or laptop just by logging in to your email either through an ‘application ‘ or a web browser if you so choose! Google is often the most favored Search Engine that provides email services. Any email provider has a section where you can add, edit, or delete any of your contacts. Gmail is no different.
Let’s start with the Android platform. Because Android phones are Google based, all of your Contacts are always synced to your Gmail account. You’ll notice when you first set up your Android device, that you will be prompted to either create a Gmail account, or sign in to an existing Gmail account. For those that have an existing Gmail account, their contacts will instantly be synced to your phone and show up in your Contacts application. There’s nothing more to do but leave the sync button on for your device. Check out syncing your contacts for Android if you need more information. Gmail also offers a tool to import contacts from other email providers and address books. If you don’t use your Gmail account, and prefer using another personal Email Domain such as Yahoo Mail, or Outlook, you can do the exact same thing as you would with the Gmail account.
Simply add an account under the phone settings, or download the Outlook App or Yahoo Mail App under the Google Play Store. This will automatically sync these contacts into your phone Contacts list. The only down side to any email provider other than Gmail is that there usually isn’t an option to sync new contacts to that email provider when adding them into your phone. In other words, you don’t automatically have your contacts backed up to that particular email service. Instead, you will have to manually keep track of adding or editing contacts by logging into your email service. Sadly as you see here, yahoo cannot sync newly added contacts from your phone. The good news is the updated Outlook App for Android can! Once you download it, you will notice in the menu bar on the top far right an icon that says “People”. That’s all your contacts from your phone being synced to your Outlook! Just check out this information for more guidance.
The Windows Phone has a very similar set up method using Outlook. This can be an email account set up through Hotmail or MSN.
Apple has their own unique way of setting up their iPhone. Or contact. You can sync your Gmail account contacts to your new iPhone, it’s just as easy. Simply go to settings and select mail, contacts, calendars. From there, all you need to do is select add account, and select Google. Go through the sign in procedure, and be sure that your “Contacts” Option is turned on. Syncing will automatically begin, and your Google Contacts will be loaded to your new iPhone! Make sure you set Google Contacts as your default account on your iOS device, and it will automatically add any new Contact you put in your iPhone to your Gmail! It doesn’t really matter if it is Gmail, Yahoo, or any other webmail provider. Follow the same steps, and you will be able to save your Contacts you add on your iPhone directly to your email provider. You can also use your computer, to plug in your iOS device and sync Contacts from you email provider using iTunes. An example of how this can be done with Outlook can be seen here
# 3 Utilize Phone Brand Accounts (Apple, LG, Samsung, HTC, Blackberry, Windows)
With Android, under your Contacts application, you can choose whether you save your Contacts directly to your device, on a SIM card (if applicable), on your Google account which is the same as your Gmail, or an account related to that particular brand of phone (i.e., Samsung Account, or HTC Account). Depending on your brand of phone, you can set up an account which syncs all your phones info, individual calendar events, and contacts. When setting up your phone for the first time, there is a prompt to set up an account. Simply follow the instructions on your phone and sign in. From there, this account will sync and save your contacts directly onto their personal server.
Apple has their own account which you need to create to use your iPhone. My Apple ID account also backs up your contacts through the iCloud services. Whereas for a Windows Phone, you would need to set up a Microsoft Account. You can check out the Windows Set Up information here if you like. No matter what Brand of phone you have, they will almost always have a unique account you will create to work with that phone. This syncs your contacts to this account so you will never lose them, even when transferring information to another similar phone brand. Each phone has some form of application you can download to your computer and link it too. Samsung has Kies, HTC has HTC Sync Manager, Blackberry has Blackberry Desktop Software, and Apple has iTunes.
# 4 Saving Contacts as a File
This step is slightly more complicated. Well, not really that complicated. You can create a master list of all your contacts. For instance, I easily exported my LinkedIn network of about 200 contacts into a .CSV file and got them all to Gmail within about 60 seconds. There are two common file types you can save your Contacts under. This will allow you to export Contacts from a variety of websites through one giant list, as a .VCF (Value Card File) or a .CSV (Comma Separated Values) file.
All you need is to import this file onto your device. Depending on which device you have, there are several ways to do this. For Android devices, go into your Contacts and click on more in the upper right corner for your settings. All you do after this is click on the “Import/Export Contacts” section. From there, just click on Export and choose where you want to save the file to. I suggest saving it onto the Micro SD card if your phone has one, or just on the phone itself until you can transfer the file onto your computer or other storage device. To load the contacts back onto your Android device, simply go back into Contact Settings, and under the “Import/Export Contacts” section, click on import and choose the VCF file you have just created. Google explains how this process works.
When using a Windows phone, it is a little tricky. Go under the People section of the phone, and under manage, there is an option to “Export” your Contacts, immediately taking you through steps to create a CSV or VCF. Follow the steps, and you’ll have either file directly from your WIndows Phone. To load a CSV or VCF file to your Windows Phone can be difficult, because Windows 8 Phones cannot support VCF files through Outlook. Using WIndows Live Mail, you can import your Contacts with a VCF file just fine though. If you need help with this, please see the very last answer on this page. WIndows explains all these steps for either importing or exporting contacts in this manner fairly simply.
If you want to get your contacts in the Apple computer address book, you need to save the file as a .VCF file instead of a .CSV. In the App Store on your iPhone, install an app that allows you to save your Contacts as an excel spread sheet. Export Address Book is a good app for this. Follow the app’s instructions to save your Contacts to save to your computer or email to yourself. On your computer, open the file in Excel and save it as a CSV file. That’s it! IF you want to import this file to a WIndow’s Phone, merely go to your Contacts List on Outlook or Windows Live Mail depending on the compatibility of your phone, and choose import file.
You can even save your Contacts on your Social Network Site such as Facebook or LinkedIn as a CSV or VCF. Here’s a quick way how to do it on LinkedIn: Once signed in, click the Contacts tab under Network on the main page. Click the Gear icon on the right hand top side of the page and choose Export LinkedIn connections. From there just choose to save as a .CSV file, then import into Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or any email provider, other than perhaps your work’s secure server email.
Overall, you have plenty of ways to always backup your Contacts. Even if your phone is stolen or lost. There are apps that instantly save call logs or texts if you forget to save a contact in your phone! If you need help or step-by-step instructions on how to personally save these contacts using any of these methods, please let me know and I’d be happy to help! I have spent the last 13 years researching, and working with various types of software, and smart phones.
Another good resource you may want to check out is Jefferson Graham as well for more information on technology. He is a writer for the USA Today, and a well published author of 9 books.