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Let's face it, for many BlackBerry owners, one of the worse things that can happen is to have your BlackBerry stolen or to lose it. Not only do you have to deal with the hassle of replacing the phone, but there is the concern that someone else might have access to all of your personal information if it wasn't password protected. In addition, unless you're a corporate client with BES, you face losing all of your contacts and appointments, among other things. Well, while you still don't want to lose your BlackBerry, at least you can get rid of some of the worries thanks to BlackBerry Protect.
BlackBerry Protect is an app that was originally announced last summer by RIM, but it had been in a private beta since. However, they finally released it as an open beta this week, and users throughout North and Latin America can now download it from the BlackBerry App World Test Center. Or if you want to save yourself the hassle, feel free to simply scan this QR code from your BlackBerry to be automatically directed to the App World entry. Once you've downloaded it, you can simply sign in using your BlackBerry ID.
So what does BlackBerry Protect do and why should you download it? Here's a run down of some of the really useful features.
Back Up Your Device
BlackBerry Protect can backup your device's most important data, including Contacts, Calendars, Tasks Memos, Browser Bookmarks, and Text Messages on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. If you're at all concerned about the data usage, you can set the backups to only occur over WiFi, or if you want to make sure it always is backed up, even when you're out of country, you can choose to allow backups while roaming. Each backup also only changes the updated info, saving on data usage. With this, if anything ever happens to your BlackBerry (e.g. you lose it, it gets stolen, or it dies), you'll still have your most valuable data on your BlackBerry (Note: it does not back up email messages as those are stored on your email server).
BlackBerry Protect Web Portal
If you ever end up needing access to the BlackBerry Protect web portal, you can access it via your computer or smartphone at http://www.blackberry.com/protect/login. Using the web access, you can control various aspects of your device as follows. (Note: OS 5 devices may have trouble accessing the web portal.)
Show a Message
If you lose your device, you can send a message to it to display on the screen remotely. Use this feature to provide alternate contact info, or to post any message of your choosing.
Lock Your Device
Say you lose your device but you don't have a password on your phone, or your password won't be re-enabled for up to another hour. That can be a lot of time for someone to take advantage of your device. Using BlackBerry Protect, you can lock your phone remotely and even set a password if you didn't previously have one.
Have you ever misplaced your BlackBerry only to try to call it and then realize its on Silent mode? You know it's around, but... Using the BlackBerry Protect web portal you can get it to emit a loud (and highly annoying, but perfect to find) ring. Even if your phone was on Silent mode, it will change your phone's ringer setting to Loud and will emit an audible ring, helping you find it between the couch cushions or other. Just make sure to change your ringer settings again as it will remain on the loud ring setting after.
Find Your BlackBerry
In the unfortunate event that your BlackBerry is stolen, you can log in to the BlackBerry Protect web portal to view your BlackBerry's location on a map. If your BlackBerry is outside, you can pinpoint its location to within meters using the GPS. If it's indoors, you won't be able to pinpoint its location as precisely, but you can still get a general vicinity. I tested this myself by putting my BlackBerry by a window and was able to pinpoint my location to within 12m. Away from the window though, it was a much wider range. You can then use this information to try to recover the BlackBerry assuming it is still on.
Wipe Your BlackBerry
Now let's say that you have tried everything to recover your BlackBerry and have given up and simply want to wipe the device rather than let anyone else have potential access to your data (or perhaps you don't want to take any chances and simply want to delete your info regardless). Using BlackBerry Protect, you can log in and perform a security wipe on the device, deleting all of your personal information. And of course, since you had BlackBerry Protect enabled, you have at least have a back up of your most important information, so not all will be lost.
While you never hope that you need a program such as BlackBerry Protect, if anything ever happens to your BlackBerry, you'll be happy you had it installed. I've been using it for some time now, and this latest open beta is quite powerful. There are still features I would like to see (e.g. it would be great if it could back up my email messages, or at the very least, my saved messages), but this is still considerably better than the alternative. If you haven't already checked out BlackBerry Protect and you own a BlackBerry that you use for personal use, I would definitely recommend taking a look. And don't worry, it's completely free, but it could save you a lot of hassle in the event that something does happen!
If you need any help in setting up BlackBerry Protect, take a look at this great Getting Started blog written by RIM: http://helpblog.blackberry.com/2011/03/blackberry-