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Contacts, who needs em?

Contacts, who needs em?
Matthew Brace | 30-07-20
As winter settles in and claims its territory, I find myself pondering over one of life’s greatest digital questions. Digital contacts, how important are they really?  What if you offered incorrect advice in regard to deleting an email account from a mobile phone?  What if this advice caused the loss of over 1500 mobile contacts?  No worries you say, the contacts are syncing to a cloud account.  You check the account and contacts are not there. Do you know why?

The Apple iPhone was announced to the world on January 9 2007, followed by Samsung’s first android phone on the 29th of June, 2009. During this time, Digital Contact storage came in two forms, the Sim Card or the Mobile Phone. Early sim cards stored around 20 contacts. If that was not enough, contacts could then be stored on the phone.  SO, what would happen if your phone or sim card was lost or damaged?  Unless the phone had been backed up to the computer, you could lose everything.  For me, loosing contacts would not have been an issue, but what if you relied on your contacts?  A failing / lost phone would be disastrous.  Understanding this shortfall, Apple for example created iCloud.  Apple iPhones were given the ability to be able to synchronize important data to the cloud. 

For some time now, we have been able to add email accounts to our mobile devices. Such a convenient option, or is it? What if your contact store is no longer the sim card, the phone, iCloud or a Samsung account?  What if you add an email account to your mobile device and that account becomes your new default contact store? No Worries, right?  Time passes, your phone is working great and contacts are being added to the email account you recently added. Life is peachy and you haven’t got a care in the world.  One day, you decide to cancel that email address.  You complete the required steps and the email account is canceled.  One or two days later you notice an authentication window is opening on your mobile device.  Ahh you think, I know what that is!  That’s the email account I canceled. Without a care in the world you delete the account from the phone.  The annoying authentication window no longer appears.  

A few days later you notice that the Lego stock has dropped and being a savvy investor, you decide you want to buy buy buy. Excitedly you grab your phone.  “Where is it... Where is it!?” You can’t seem to find your stockbroker’s number.  No worries you think, my contacts have been syncing to my cloud account. You sign into the respective cloud portal, and the contacts are not there. WHY?  This is when we realize. Contacts, meh who needs them? We all do!  Contacts are an efficient way to store thousands of phone numbers.  A way for us to have a phone book at our fingertips without having to remember exact details.    You can call your doctor, your children’s school and dare I mention your mother in law at the press of a button.  

After the account was deleted, why are the contacts not available?   Understanding how Contacts are managed by your mobile device is important.  Understanding when you create a contact, where is that contact being stored.    In addition, understanding what is actually being backed up to the cloud is very important.  Cloud backups will only backup selected local data on the mobile device.  The specific data may vary from different mobile devices.  Generally, data that is already being sync’d (Not a backup) to the cloud is NOT included in the cloud backup.   Contacts associated to other accounts will not be backed up.  The assumption here is that those accounts will sync to the email provider. If you have contacts associated to an email account, deleting that account will delete the contacts.   Those contacts will not be included within the cloud backups or the cloud contact sync. 

Checking your default contact storage location is easy.  On the iPhone, Settings, Contacts, default account. On an Android phone, please Google ”how to set my android default contacts on my (phone type)” because they are all different.    

Selecting the default contact location will depend on you and how you use your phone.  If you have a Microsoft 365 email account added to your mobile phone, Qbit recommends using that account as your default contact store. 

In summary it is important to understand how contacts are stored.  If you need to delete an account, make sure you have a full backup stored on your computer.  There are also many mobile apps that will assist you with moving stored contacts from one account to another


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