One of the overwhelming fears of smart phone owners is that, should you lose the device, all of your information stored on it--including pictures, text messages, favorites, e-mails, and contacts--will be lost for good. Dashwire's Web-based service not only backs up all that content directly to a Web site, but also lets you access it from any computer and even share it with others. Available for Windows Mobile phones now and for Symbian devices later this summer, Dashwire's upload speeds are a bit slow, but overall it's an excellent free service.
Installation and Uploading Data
We downloaded and installed the client fromm.dashwire.comto our HTC Excalibur running Windows Mobile 6.1 within 5 minutes. Once installed, we clicked Update from the menu, and the software began sending our phone's contact, messaging, and multimedia files to our profile on Dashwire's social networking site (my.dashwire.com). Uploading our phone's data to the Web site took longer than we would have liked: Over AT&T's EDGE network, it took about 15 minutes to upload four pictures, our whole call log, and text messages. It took us 12:13 to upload ten 3-MP photos from ourHTC Touch Dualover a 3G connection, but that time should be considerably less for those who own camera phones with lower resolution.
Using the Web Site
The Dashwire home page is split into 11 sections (Bookmarks, Calls, Contacts, Conversations, Photos, Profile, Ringtones, Speed Dials, Messages, Videos, and Voicemail) and looks similar to iGoogle.com. Each section can be moved around the page, so you can customize it to your liking. Once online, our pictures and videos were sorted into their own respective galleries, and the Web site loaded each quickly in a tiled format. Thankfully, your information is kept private by default. If you want to take advantage of the social networking aspect of Dashwire, you can share your videos and photos, letting friends and family stay up to date on your social life.
Once our photos were stored on our Dashwire page, we sorted them into albums for Work and Fun by tagging them. Sharing photos was easy, too: simply click Share under a photo, then select whether you'd like to send it via MMS, e-mail, or to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, FriendFeed, or Bebo. We also liked that the descriptions we added to each photo followed them across the Web to other social networking sites.
One of the better aspects of Dashwire is that it expands the usability of your phone: In Text Messages, you can create and send a new SMS right from your Web browser. Bookmarks let you create new bookmarks and send them to your phone, perfect for longer Web addresses that are a pain to type on the handset itself.
We liked that we were able to update our Facebook and Twitter status messages directly from our Dashwire portal on our home PC. With Version 2.0 of the mobile software, you can do this directly from the phone, too, by updating your status message inside the Dashwire 2.0 application.
The only contacts that appear on the Web site are the ones stored directly on your phone and not on a SIM card. This can be remedied by going to SIM Manager in Windows Mobile 6.1 and saving SIM contacts directly to your phone, but we wish Dashwire pulled these automatically. However, we appreciated that we could enter contacts directly on the Web site, eliminating the pain of typing lots of contacts directly into a phone, particularly for those who don't use Outlook on their desktop. This feature is also useful when you buy a new phone: you can send all your contacts and content directly to the new handset.
Dashwire on Your Phone
When you start the Dashwire application on your Windows Mobile device, it begins searching for updated data to upload to your personal Dashwire Web page. But on the handset itself, the only changes you'll see are images or multimedia brought down from the site that you may have transferred from your PC. Other updates, like contacts, will be added or changed in the background. We didn't like that we had to choose between keeping the current contacts on the phone and deleting them to be replaced by the contacts on Dashwire. Being able to simply add to our existing phone book would have been ideal.
After the initial sync between your phone and Dashwire, you can view your uploaded photos while syncing newer ones in the background--no need to wait for a sync to finish. You can add titles to your photos directly from the software, or send them off to a friend as an MMS.
Unfortunately, videos transfer from the Web site as photos, meaning you can't play them. Also, the photo gallery in the mobile software displays only four images on the home screen; to see the rest, you'll need to flip through horizontally using your navigation buttons.
Dashwire sync could stand some improvements. When we switched our handset to a HTC Touch Dual, all our photos were downloaded to the phone inside the Dashwire application, but they weren't saved directly to the handset itself. That means you'll need to launch Dashwire to view your photos, but fortunately shots that have already been synced are immediately available. Considering we could share photos from the Web site, we wish the software would let us send photos to Facebook or other social networks directly from our handset, like other applications including ShoZu.
Dashwire is an attractive and easy-to-use solution for backing up your Windows Mobile 6 or 6.1 phone--considering how well it ran on a 201-MHz phone with just 64MB of RAM. Unfortunately, the sync times for photos and video can take upwards of ten minutes even for just a few photos. Dashwire may want to consider an optional version that provides faster upload speeds at a cost. The company told us a beta solution for Symbian S60 devices will be available this summer and that BlackBerry support is in the works. Considering there aren't any limits on how much you can store online, we can't wait.