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  1. wu-wei's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #1  

    Default 3rd Party App Backup Guide

    I am often asked how I manage my third party apps, because I so regularly install new OSes on my device. I have also mentioned (and then been asked about) storing third party app installers on my SD card.

    So, here is a guide to how I handle my third party apps. I hope it is helpful.

    Before I start, let's cover the basics. Apps can be installed to your BlackBerry either via Desktop Manager (Loader, actually), or over the air...OTA. No matter which method you use, the objective is to install code modules - COD files - to your device. If you install via Loader, then Loader needs an ALX file in the same folder as the COD files. If you install OTA, then your device needs a JAD file that points to the correct COD files.

    So, to get the terminology out of the way, we're dealing with getting CODs and generating ALXs and JADs.

    First, one of the best tools available is OTADownloader. You can download it here.

    Once OTA Downloader is installed on your device, you will find a new entry in your browser menu named "Download OTA App". Now, whenever you arrive at an installation page through your browser, select that menu item. OTADownloader will download all the files you need, and place them in a folder named OTADownload on your SD Card. You will then be prompted to install the app. I often grab app files and wait to install them either in a batch or, if I know I'm getting a new version of an app that will require a reboot, I wait until it is convenient for me to install and reboot.

    Many developers - including RIM - reform their JAD files to prevent this sort of activity, in large part to prevent piracy. This is a good place to say this: I do not condone pirating third party apps. Period. Developers, me included, devote a lot of time and energy to creating apps and themes, and most are offered at incredibly affordable price points. If you want premium software, BUY IT.

    Alright, back to my point...some JAD files won't work in OTADownloader. So your next option is to install the app to your device. Once the app is installed, it's a good idea to create a backup. This is how I do it:

    The first thing you'll need is a desktop utility that can read and save files from your BlackBerry. My best advice is to get BBH Tool. It does everything I need for backup, restores, jad creation, system reads....everything.

    You can also use BlackBerry Swiss Army Knife (BBSAK) or BlackBerry Master Control Program (BBCMP). Both are excellent tools as well.

    To back up your apps:

    1. Open BBH Tool.
    2. Connect the device via USB.
    3. In BBH Tool, go to the Phone Tools tab, click Connect, then click Read under "File System".


    4. From the list generated in the pane on the right, select which third party app modules you want to back up for a specific app, then click Save under ".COD Files". Alternatively, you can just click Save under "Third Party Apps" to grab ALL of the modules for all you third party apps. I am selective about which ones I save only because I already have backups of all my apps. Here is an example of what you'll see when you do a full Third Party Apps Save in BBH Tool:




    My personal practice is to keep all my third party app installers saved in folders on my SD card, so I can remove and reinstall anytime I want. So, we need to create JAD files.

    Once you have all the COD files on your PC, you will need to create a JAD file for each app. In my experience, the JAD files created by BBH Tool's "Third Party Save" process are missing an attribute and won't install from my SD card. I'm very picky about, well, everything, so I like creating my own JADs anyway:

    1. In BBH Tool, go to the Create-A-JAD tab.


    2. Decide which app you're building a JAD for, fill in the relevant information (App Name, Description, Version, Vendor), pick a name for the JAD file, make sure you select "OTA (.jad)" from the drop down next to the file name, and pick a place to save it.
    3. Now the last thing you need to do is drag the COD files for a particular app to the pane on the right.
    4. I usually check my device to make sure I have all the necessary CODs for an app before I create the JAD. I do this by going to Options > Device > Application Management, clicking on the specific app name, and scrolling down to the bottom of that page. That will show you which modules are included in that specific app. Here's an example:




    5. Once those COD files are included, click that nice big Create It! button. BBH Tool will tell you when the JAD is ready (it's a quick process).


    So, now you have the JAD and COD files you need to install the app. One of the handiest things about JAD files is that they can be opened locally too. So, as I mentioned, I keep all my app filesets in folders on my SD card. This is what mine looks like right now:



    If I open a file manager and navigate to the JAD file, the app will prompt me to install just like an OTA installation:



    ....So, that's now I manage my third party apps. I am sure others do things differently, using different utilities, etc. But I wanted to do a full write up so I can just post a link whenever I'm asked.
    Last edited by wu-wei; 05-23-2012 at 06:31 PM. Reason: Cleaned up a few typos.
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    andyahs (05-24-2012),  BullMarket (07-27-2012),  cobracam (05-26-2012),  mhy1979 (10-27-2012),  mikeplus1 (07-06-2012),  sharaz47 (05-23-2012),  zocster (07-28-2012) 
  2. #2  

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    Nice post. I use OTA Downloader as well, with BBSAK for the rest. ~ecm
  3. tang63's Avatar
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    I tried using BBSAK before, to backup and restore my apps.

    However, after restoring my apps, I faced issues when I wanted to update an app. Error messages started popping out saying that if I were to update the app, it would corrupt the files of the app (from BBSAK app restore). Has anyone faced this issue before?

    I finally surrendered to manually installing all my apps again via BB app world.
  4. #4  

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    Quote Originally Posted by tang63 View Post
    I tried using BBSAK before, to backup and restore my apps.

    However, after restoring my apps, I faced issues when I wanted to update an app. Error messages started popping out saying that if I were to update the app, it would corrupt the files of the app (from BBSAK app restore). Has anyone faced this issue before?

    I finally surrendered to manually installing all my apps again via BB app world.
    Avoid the issue by deleting the app first. Then install the new version and all will be well. That issue caused me to stop using BBSAK to backup most times. Still good for a fast reinstall when a 507 or similar error arises.
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  5. tang63's Avatar
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    Oh I see. Thanks for the tip
  6. wu-wei's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #6  

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    Quote Originally Posted by tang63 View Post
    I tried using BBSAK before, to backup and restore my apps.

    However, after restoring my apps, I faced issues when I wanted to update an app. Error messages started popping out saying that if I were to update the app, it would corrupt the files of the app (from BBSAK app restore). Has anyone faced this issue before?
    Quote Originally Posted by sedalia066 View Post
    Avoid the issue by deleting the app first. Then install the new version and all will be well. That issue caused me to stop using BBSAK to backup most times. Still good for a fast reinstall when a 507 or similar error arises.
    I seem to recall one of the utilities - pretty sure it was BBSAK - would lump all the apps into one big ALX file when you did a full third party backup and restore, which would cause problems whenever you needed to upgrade one of the apps that was part of the backup set. That's one reason I never messed with that approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by tang63 View Post
    I finally surrendered to manually installing all my apps again via BB app world.
    I could write another long post about how I avoid having AppWorld on my device altogether. But today is not the day.
    Last edited by wu-wei; 05-25-2012 at 11:12 AM.
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  7. tang63's Avatar
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    I seem to recall one of the utilities - pretty sure it was BBSAK - would lump all the apps into one big ALX file when you did a full third party backup and restore, which would cause problems whenever you needed to upgrade on of the apps that was part of the backup set. That's one reason I never messed with that approach.
    Does this issue happen with the 3rd party apps backup approach using the Desktop manager/software? I'm referring to the use of the 'switch device' method, and the DM will temporarily backup the 3rd party apps.

    So the BBH tool mentioned above won't cause the issue I faced with BBSAK? If so, then I'll download it too.

    However, which is better? the DM method or the BBH tool? :O in terms of speed and simplicity, with minimum clashes and issues (unlike BBSAK)

    Thanks again
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #8  

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    Quote Originally Posted by tang63 View Post
    Does this issue happen with the 3rd party apps backup approach using the Desktop manager/software? I'm referring to the use of the 'switch device' method, and the DM will temporarily backup the 3rd party apps.

    So the BBH tool mentioned above won't cause the issue I faced with BBSAK? If so, then I'll download it too.

    However, which is better? the DM method or the BBH tool? :O in terms of speed and simplicity, with minimum clashes and issues (unlike BBSAK)

    Thanks again
    If you just want to back up your apps, I still suggest BBH Tool. Desktop Manager's Switch Device workaround works very well, too. DM generates individual ALX files, if I remember correctly. BBH Tool generates individual JAD files, but there's something missing that causes errors when I have tried installing from my SD card in the past. That may actually be fixed now, I don't know for sure.

    As far as loading a new OS goes, I don't recommend the whole wipe-and-reinstall business. I just use Loader and let it do it's thing. Never had any problems with third party apps using that process. I have, on occasion, had to perform device wipes though. And even then I was fine reinstalling third party apps from my SD card - which I prefer doing.

    Again, everyone has their own preferences for methods and utilities.
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  9. tang63's Avatar
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    An issue I faced using BBH tool is that it often fails to detect my device. I connect and reconnect my device multiple times only then did it detect my BB9780. The error message asking me to reconnect or try plugging it into another USB port.

    Why does this keep happening?

    I didn't face such issues for BBSAK and BB desktop software.
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    You need to open Task Manager and shut down all RIM processes first, but this is still the best way to backup 3rd party apps.
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    Thanks for the fix.

    As for the link, yes I already know abt that method. haha. I wanted to compare methods to see which would be a better, BBSAK, BBH and the DM method.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
  12. wu-wei's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #12  

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBadWulf View Post
    You need to open Task Manager and shut down all RIM processes first, but this is still the best way to backup 3rd party apps.
    Whoops - I forgot all about the DM method, but only because I so rarely use it. Thanks for adding that link in this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wu-wei View Post

    I could write another long post about how I avoid having AppWorld on my device altogether. But today is not the day.
    I have been trying to avoid using App World, however, I am finding it damn near impossible adding apps without it.

    All developers seem to link to App World...and even when using the App World website, it is requiring that App World be installed on the 9700 to install apps via connection to the computer.

    Is it correct to assume that you install it as needed and then delete and store on your SD, as you do all your inactive apps?

    Thanks in advance for any insight and advice...Cheers!
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    I use the DM. One Alx file for all my apps. Just edit cod and alx when versions upgraded. Easy when doing a wipe and os install. One go and ur phone is ready for restore. Also keep all of them on the sd card to use when required.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wu-wei View Post

    I could write another long post about how I avoid having AppWorld on my device altogether. But today is not the day.
    The thing is, most app developers now only update via appworld. Six tools is one example, I had to buy the darn app twice (once through Mobihand).

    Edit: also filescout, BBM connected version is available on Appworld only as the developer believes that Appworld version only is allowed to connect to BBM (only one additional module vs their OTA)


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