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Palm Pre We at PreCentral receive a lot of tips throughout the day, but more and more over the past few weeks our inbox has been flooding with stories of users having just reset or replaced their webOS phones only to find that their Palm Profile did not back up all their data as promised. If you haven’t experienced this issue you’re in the lucky majority, but it seems the rate of the backup failures is accelerating and spreading.

We do feel your pain - one of our own staff members was hit by this bug and lost all of his contacts, calendar events, memos, and tasks. The only thing that was saved were his apps, which is a small consolation when you’ve just lost hundreds of phone numbers and email addresses accumulated over the years.

While we’re waiting for a third-party backup solution to land, we did some investigating. It turns out that the problem stems from corrupted backups, which is nothing new in the backup industry. Corrupted data happens all the time, but there are always safeguards to ensure that it doesn’t corrupt the system. Usually, that’s a prior backup. The issue is that the Palm Profile doesn’t keep anything other than the most recent backup, corrupted or not. Since your phone doesn’t provide any feedback on backups, even when they end up as corrupted, webOS users have no idea whether or not their backup was successfully completed. That is, until you reset your phone and realize that everything is lost.

Update: Palm has issued an official statement on the situation:

We are seeing a small number of customers who have experienced issues transferring their Palm Profile information to another Palm webOS device. Palm and Sprint are working closely together to support these customers to successfully transfer their information to the new device

This has been a problem since almost day one of life with webOS, but it seems to have become more widespread over the past few weeks. At present, with no resolution in sight we cannot in good conscience recommend that you trust your data to Palm’s servers. While we have little choice with tasks and memos (unless you want to pay to sync them through desktop clients like The Missing Sync), your contacts and calendar data should be kept in the cloud with Google or Yahoo.

We understand that there are those that don’t trust the cloud, but thus far Google and Yahoo sync has proven infinitely more reliable than Palm Profile. We also understand that it certainly will not be an easy task transferring all of your data over to Google or Yahoo from the Palm Profile, as the only way to do that is by editing each event and contact individually. For those that have no yet moved to webOS, if you can you should export your data from your phone/desktop client and upload it to Google or Yahoo yourself and skip the potential misery.

Google and Yahoo have the added benefit that you can hop online and check that it was performed properly - something you absolutely cannot do with your mystery-cloaked Palm Profile. For added data redundancy, you can also sync that data down to your desktop computer; check with each system’s respective websites for details.

This is where we normally thank everybody that's sent in the tips, but it would seem a cruel joke to say "thanks!" Instead, we'll say that we're sorry you've had to deal with this and we wish that there was something we could do to help.