Monday, March 22, 2010

Backup and Restore: Our best feature since auto-typing

There's a little problem with third party apps: If you delete a third party app from your iPhone, all of the app's data gets deleted too. This is really bad for apps like PasswordWallet that store lots of critical user data.

To further complicate matters, lots of iPhone users don't run PasswordWallet for Mac OS X or Windows. They're just using PasswordWallet for iPhone as a stand-alone utility. So after deleting their data, simply syncing with their computer isn't possible.

As a matter of fact, our #1 support question was from users wanting to restore their data to their iPhones. And if the user was on the road away from their iTunes, or iTunes didn't back up for some reason, their data was simply gone.

We needed to solve this problem.

The first thing we had to do was figure out how to recover the user's data. iTunes will usually make backups of the user's data when they sync by USB. So we wrote a utility that runs on Mac and Windows to extract their data from iTunes scattered backups.

The next step was to figure out how to get the recovered data back onto the iPhone. But how? Many users aren't running our Mac and Windows clients. And we certainly don't want to create some web site where users give us control of their usernames, passwords and other sensitive information. Furthermore, users certainly don't want to do a whole device restore and and lose recent changes to other third party apps too.

So we went a little crazy for PasswordWallet 4.5. Together with the awesome folks at Gandreas Software, we wrote a web server and built it right into our iPhone app. Yes, an entire web server on the iPhone. Turn on the server and with any browser users can easily Backup, Restore or Synchronize their data.

Here's how it works:

To start, tap "Backup & Restore" on your iPhone. Then enter the URL of your iPhone in to your computer's browser. iPhone PasswordWallet conveniently displays the URL for you. If you're using Safari, just check inside your Bonjour Menu:

A unique pairing number will display on your iPhone. This pairing number ensures that only you can access your device and not someone else on your network.

And poof! A web page will appear with all of your files. From this page you can upload new files, download old files, and even synchronize two files.

But let's say your iPhone was stolen... you wouldn't want just anybody getting hold of your data, even if it is encrypted. Well, PasswordWallet for iPhone forbids downloads of files without users first entering their master password on the device.

That's all there is to it! We're really pleased with the way Backup & Restore turned out; and PasswordWallet is the only password manager for iPhone that has it.

PS - There's a secret feature: any file can be uploaded to PasswordWallet through Backup & Restore, not just PasswordWallet files. So you can use PasswordWallet as a quick and easy way to transfer files between home and work!