Finding Lost Palm Programs

Sooner or later it happens, you either lose your Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), it's stolen or simply ceases to function.

After fixing or replacing the unit, the next question is always: "How do I get my programs back?"

Fortunately, if you're using a Palm-based PDA (or Smart Phone) there is almost always a backup copy of the software you have installed located on the computer that you use to synchronize with the PDA.

The exact location of the backup can vary from computer to computer, depending on the selections you made when you first installed the Palm HotSync manager software.

For most users, the software backup directory will be located in the following directory:

C:\Program Files\Palm\MS\Backup

But, you may also find them at:


Other options are always possible, but the one constant seems to be that the directory will end with MS\Backup.

Often, no user intervention will even be required. It's not uncommon for your system to recognize that a new PDA is being used, and to re-install all of your old software for you, automatically. Even if this doesn't happen in your case, you can simply use Windows Explorer to navigate to the backup directory where you'll likely find copies of all of the software that you've previously installed to your PDA.

To make the process of manually reinstalling software easier, you need to know that Palm-based programs end with a ".prc" file extension. Simply double-clicking on any of these files will cause your HotSync manager software to launch and this will schedule the program for reinstallation upon your next synchronization.

Be aware that you will also likely find files that end with the ".pdb" and that these are typically data files that are used by your Palm-based programs. These can be also be launched for installation by double-clicking them as well.

When in doubt as to what you should manually re-install just start with the obvious application and data files. Then if a specific program is not working properly on your PDA, go back and look for likely candidates that may solve the problem. For instance, if you're mapping software doesn't seem to display your maps, look for a ".pdb" file that makes sense, likely named after your city, town, county or state, for instance.

As a final alternative, in many cases the easiest solution for installing lost software is to simply have an associate "beam" the missing program from there PDA to yours. This assumes that you can find someone in your office who also owns the software you're now missing, and that the software license allows for beaming.

If this is the case, then your associate can simply use the "drop-down" menu from the main Applications list. From there, have them choose "Beam" and a list of programs will be displayed. The final step is to simply select the program from this list and tap the on screen "beam" button.

As long as both PDAs are facing one another, and within just a few feet, the missing software will be transmitted from there PDA to yours using infrared technology (what your TV remote uses).

Whether your PDA automatically restores lost software or not, the good news is that there's almost always a way to find and install the programs and data needed to be up and running in short-order.


Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale