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Back it on up

Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! This week I wanted to share a real life experience that yours truly just went through.

As you may recall, I have an HTC Droid DNA for a phone and I love it. It's hands-down the best smartphone I've had and even compared to some of the newer ones from Samsung or Apple, I'd still prefer my DNA. The only issue I've had with it is that my SIM card acts up every once in a while - not the SIM specifically but earlier models of the DNA had an issue with the SIM card housing that caused the phone to not detect it. Unfortunately, I had one of those models. It wasn't the end of the world but every once in a while I'd look at my phone and realize the SIM wasn't detected and when I'd adjust it I'd find a few missed texts or calls. I look at my phone often enough where it didn't happen frequently but I did worry that if there was an emergency in the middle of the night, if my phone was acting up I'd miss a potentially important call.

So, finally this week I decided to turn it in and get a replacement and I thought I'd share some of that experience and some thoughts that might make it easier for you if you end up having to deal with this same type of situation.

My first step was to take the phone in to the corporate Verizon Store in town. I have my service through them and I've found that with any questions like that it's just easier to be at a corporate store where you're only working with Verizon employees. Nothing against other stores but there are some things that you have to be at a corporate store for, so if that comes up you've just saved yourself a trip.

Step one was diagnosing the problem, which was confirmed as the SIM housing. This brings up the first tip - seriously consider insurance for your phone. We've had insurance on our phones ever since we upgraded to smartphones. Why? Because of situations like this. Because I had insurance, it covered the replacement phone and the shipping - both of my replacement and my old one back to Verizon. If I hadn't had insurance I would have had to pay full retail price for any phone, in the case of my DNA it would be about $500. You may not ever need your insurance but that's the whole point - would you rather have insurance and not need it, or need it and not have it?

The replacement phone arrived amazingly fast, which brought me to step two - transferring all my data. This was by far the most tedious part of the whole process. I had taken precautionary steps - I sync my contacts with Google so they're always backed up and there was a setting in my phone to backup all of my apps and data so I did that too. Google Play makes it easy to keep track of all the apps I've ever purchased or downloaded, so I didn't have to worry about that and I figured the only thing I'd really have to transfer were my photos and videos.

This is where I learned lesson number two - always make sure you know how to use your back up services. I started setting up my phone and because I thought my phone was backed up I expected everything to flow back in when I synced my Google account. Nope. Not even close. I was able to sync my contacts and I was able to get my apps back but not my app data. I ended up going back to the Verizon store to make sure I wasn't missing anything but they told me that there was a different option I should look at - the Verizon Cloud Backup. With Verizon Cloud you basically log in and you create a backup of your photos, videos, media and your call and text log. This was an added bonus because I thought I was going to lose all of my text history.

Once you download the free app you run a backup. You should be on wifi so you don't drain your data plan and the process goes much quicker on wifi. As it was it took about two and-a-half hours to sync up all my backed up information but it would have taken days if I'd relied on my data connection alone.

The trick here, that the Verizon employee reminded me, is that to play it safe you need to do a back up with the SIM still in your original phone, then transfer the SIM to your replacement phone before you begin your transfer. This way there is far less likelihood of disaster and lost information.

Therefore, here are some things to consider. I had gigabytes of information to transfer to my backup. This would have taken half the time if I had done a backup before. Tip: if you're a Verizon customer and have a smartphone, download Verizon Cloud and back up your phone regularly.

Another thing I noticed is that with the Verizon Cloud back up it didn't separate my photos into ones I took from my camera, ones I had downloaded or ones I had used apps like Instagram or Snapseed to edit. It just lumped them all together into one big folder. Great because I have them all, but not so great because I had them separated for a reason.

My solution to that is I've now started transferring my files to the cloud into different folders if I want them separated. It's an extra step, but I know that the pictures from the days my kids were born are safe.

Another tip, as you start looking at moving your files around, consider downloading a file manager like Astro File Manager. I've used Astro for years now and it's a quick, simple, way to move things around after you've downloaded them back or, if you want to restore something from another cloud option, you can do that easily as well. Apple has some file manager apps, but they don't always get you the same access that Android allows. For Apple users, though, you can use their iCloud back up instead and that should take care of it.

Finally, my data was restored, my pictures were back, my ringtones were back and my apps were ready to be used again. All in all it took about five hours to get everything back in working order but, in the grand scheme of things, I could have trimmed that to about two if I'd been a little more well prepared.

My last tip for you is in regards to my Zagg Invisible Shield. It's the best screen protector out there, hands down. And they also come with a lifetime warranty, so I really wanted to make sure I was able to put it back on my phone. The downside is that you need a little moisture to apply the Shield so it doesn't bubble. I had the foresight to save the extra spray that came with the one I got for my iPad - it's really nothing more than distilled water and some additives - but if you get a Zagg, save the extra spray in case you ever need to re-apply the protector.

I hope these tips work for you. I learned my lesson and have a solid back up plan. Literally.