If you want to hack your iPhone, be prepared for the notion that you can lose all your data or (worst case) turn your iPhone into a useless brick — thus the origin of the word “bricking” a device. Normally if things go awry, the worst that will happen is that you have to restore your iPhone to its initial pristine state. That means that you’d lose your settings and data on the iPhone. So before proceeding with hacking your iPhone, make sure you save off your data as follows.
- Back up contacts – I don’t use Outlook or Outlook Express, so my contacts are stored using the Windows Address Book (found with Start->Programs->Accessories->Address Book). I exported my contacts as a WAB (Windows Address Book) file and a CSV (comma-separated value) file. Added: in iTunes, plug in your iPhone, click on the iPhone device, then under the “Info” tab, look for the “Contacts” section. Make sure that you check the box for “Sync contacts with:” and select “Windows Address Book”.
- Back up photos – On my Windows XP system, iTunes doesn’t copy photos to my desktop computer (annoying!). And each time I plugged in the iPhone, a different dialog window would pop up (also annoying). It looked like this:
It turns out that these two annoyances cancel out. Go ahead and run the “Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard” and you can import the pictures on your iPhone and move them to your Windows computer pretty easily.
- Back up settings – This sounds horribly low tech, but grab a blank piece of paper and walk through your “Settings” application on the iPhone and just write down each setting. It’s boring, but in 10-15 minutes you’ve got a record of every setting on your iPhone, so it won’t hurt if you have to restore your iPhone to a pristine state. Added: Any time you sync your iPhone to iTunes, iTunes also saves your settings, but I prefer to have a paper backup just in case.
- Back up music – I don’t buy music from iTunes; I use MP3s from my music collection. So I had copies of the music on my iPhone somewhere else and didn’t worry about backing up my music.
- Back up bookmarks – I use Firefox for my normal bookmarks and Internet Explorer for my iPhone bookmarks. I don’t have that many iPhone bookmarks, so I didn’t worry about saving a safe copy somewhere else. Added: in iTunes, plug in your iPhone, click on the iPhone device, then under the “Info” tab, look for the “Web Browser” section. I checked the checkbox for “Sync bookmarks with:” and selected “Internet Explorer”. Once IE has your iPhone bookmarks, then in Internet Explorer you can click File, then “Import and Export…” to open a wizard. Click “Next”, then “Export Favorites…” and “Next”. The following screen lets you export some or all of IE’s bookmarks (called Favorites). If you don’t change anything, you’ll select all the bookmarks, so just click “Next”, and then you can specify a file where the exported bookmarks will be saved.
I assume that your iPhone syncs files to your Apple computer. To be cautious, make backups of whatever data you can by copying photos/file data to an extra-safe location. Any Apple users want to chime in with more specific advice?
Ready to go!
Okay, your data is backed up — you’re all set to begin hacking your iPhone. I’ve only had good experiences so far, but remember that things can go wrong. So back up that data first!