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Hard Reset, Data Protection & Privacy Tips Upgrading To The New Treo 680 From a Treo 650

Like me, a great many Treonauts will shortly upgrade their trusted and beloved Treo 650 (it really has served me extremely well) to the new Treo 680.

Some people will choose to give their ‘old’ Treo 650 away to a friend or family member, keep it in a drawer as a ‘backup’ should the need for a spare Treo ever arise in the future or simply sell it on ebay, Craigslist or on a personal basis.

Until recently in pretty much all of the above scenarios I would have recommended that Treonauts perform a “hard reset” to protect their personal data before their smartphone changes hands thinking that this would effectively ‘wipe’ all their data clean.  However, I have since learned that this isn’t quite enough to keep a dedicated hacker from stealing your data…

According to a recent Washington Post article “It turns out that hackers or sleuths armed with commercially available software can fairly easily resurrect erased data on cellphones, including address books and calendar contacts, photos, videos and e-mails, turning used phones into a treasure trove for identity thieves and allowing them in effect to buy personal data off the Internet, security experts say”.

Thankfully I learned that Palm is one of the few companies to have developed a process that not only erases (via a hard reset) but also overwrites the data with 1’s and 0’s in a process called “zero-out” which does effectively wipe your old smartphone completely clean from any personal data that may still have been there after a hard reset.

Specifically and _only_ for the Treo 650 Palm offers instructions for a Zero Out Reset which “will regress a device that has non-volatile memory to its factory-fresh state. When done correctly, it completely rewrites your device's internal memory with zeros and ones, ensuring that any data is expunged. It should be used only if you want all information completely obliterated (eg: you're selling your handheld, or you're sending it in for repair, and want to protect your privacy).”

Performing a Zero Out Reset has been purposely made difficult by Palm in order to ensure that “it would not happen by accident”.  The step-by-step instructions are below (please note that you should HotSync your Treo with your PC before performing any reset):

  1. Connect your device to its HotSync cable or cradle. The HotSync cable does not need to be connected to your PC, and it does not need to be connected to power.
  2. Press and hold the Power button and UP on the 5-way navigator.
  3. While continuing to hold Power and UP, press and hold the HotSync button on the HotSync cable or cradle. As you press HotSync, make sure your other finger doesn't slide to LEFT or RIGHT on the 5-way navigator; it needs to be exactly on UP during the entire process. Although you are pressing the HotSync button, a HotSync operation should not begin.
  4. While continuing to hold Power, UP and HotSync, press and release the RESET button on the back panel of your device. This is very difficult to do with only one person; you may wish to hold the stylus in your mouth and use your hands to press Power, UP and HotSync.
  5. Release Power, UP and HotSync.
  6. If you did this reset correctly, the screen of your device will go blank, and you will not be able to turn it on. The charging LED will not light up, even if it's connected to power. It will appear to be "dead." (any other activity — such as the Palm OS logo or a rainbow-colored Boot Log screen appearing — means the reset was performed incorrectly; try again)
  7. Your device will appear "dead" for several minutes (up to 10 minutes). During this time, your device's internal memory is being reformatted. If your device doesn't appear "dead" for several minutes with the screen completely blank, the zero out reset was performed incorrectly; try again.
  8. After several minutes, your device will "wake up" and the Palm and Palm Powered logos will appear as if you had performed a hard reset. Eventually, you'll be taken to a series of screens to calibrate the touchscreen and set date & time.

If you want your handheld to remain in factory state, stop here. If you want to restore data to your device, follow the steps for recovering data after a hard reset.

Besides the Zero Out Reset method above there is also another significantly simpler Factory Reset process (also works with the Treo 700p) which will similarly wipe out your Treo clean.  To steps to perform a Factory Reset on your Treo 650 are:

[Note: If you've already set a password on your smartphone, any hard reset will automatically become a Factory Reset. With this method below, you'll enter a password and then perform a hard reset.]

  1. On your smartphone, launch the Security application.
  2. If the Password box says "Unassigned," tap the box and create a password for your smartphone.
  3. Once the password has been set, disconnect your smartphone from the AC charger and take off the battery cover. Do not remove the battery yet.
  4. Hold down Power/End .
  5. While holding down Power/End button, remove the battery. Then insert it again.
  6. While still holding Power/End button, the screen will show the palmOne or Palm logo and a progress bar. Then the circular Palm Powered logo will appear. Release the power button when you see the Palm Powered logo. 
  7. A message will appear warning that you are about to erase all the data stored on your smartphone. Press UP.
  8. You'll see a series of Palm logo screens, then a prompt to tap onscreen targets. The Factory Reset is complete.

Considering the real concerns about identity theft as well as the increasing facility with which unscrupulous people may have access to data left on an old Treo smartphone thanks to readily available commercial software I think that the relative hassle of performing a Zero Out or Factory Reset will be clearly offset by the peace of mind that you will have in return.

Used Cellphones Hold Trove of Secrets That Can Be Hard to Erase [WashingtonPost.com]

Treonauts learn something new every day

Posted by Andrew on November 7, 2006 at 11:07 AM

Treo 680 , Treo Software | Utilities

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by Blake | Nov 7, 2006 1:13:00 PM


I don't know where you live, if even in the US, but I know you travel a lot. I know you have many Treos, but I was wondering if you could lend me your opinion. I currently have Sprint and live in Southern California. It has pretty good service, but I do not like their customer service. I am wondering what service you use when you're in the US. I am thinking of switching to Cingular, but I am a little weary since I've been with Sprint for five years. I believe you have experienced both services and I need to know which you prefer while in the US and in California to be more precise. Cingular or Sprint?

by David | Nov 7, 2006 2:44:14 PM

As usual, excellent information. You have an excellent way of reducing difficult comparisons and procedures to a very comprehensible form. Thanks very much for sharing as you do.

by Timothy Smith | Nov 7, 2006 4:52:51 PM

Andrew, as many Treonauts are likely to upgrade, can you post a review on how to transfer applications like P Tunes, Power Run, Third Party Email and the like to the new Treo?

Also, any ideas if Cingular will offer a TREO with a 1.3 Mega Pixel camera similar to the offers by Sprint/Verizon? I want to stay the PALM route!

by Andrew | Nov 8, 2006 3:55:34 AM

Blake - I don't believe that I've ever had a reason to complain about Cingular or Sprint and therefore cannot easily suggest an option for you.

I am currently using Sprint's Treo 700p and I absolutely love its EVDO wireless data capabilities. At the same time the forthcoming Cingular Treo 680 undoubtedly holds a great appeal for me thanks to its new form-factor and new applications.

David - thank you very much for your kind comment. I try my best every day ;-)

Timothy - In principle migrating all of your applications from a Treo 650 or even a Treo 700p to the Treo 680 is a snap. Just HotSync with the same user ID and all your existing applications will automatically be installed on your new Treo 680.

I very much doubt that the camera will be upgraded to 1.3MP on the Treo 680 as the specifications on Palm's website clearly indicate a 0.3MP version.

Cheers, A.

by Eileen | Nov 8, 2006 5:36:26 AM

Sort of a follow up to Timothy's post, any tips or comments on upgrading from the Treo 600 to a 680?

Also, this may be a silly question, but does DUN capability use a phone's call minutes or it's data plan? Right now I'm using T-Mobile's voice and data services so that's all I'm going on.

Thanks for keeping up the site!

by Stryder | Nov 8, 2006 8:22:52 AM

DUN capability for any device on T-Mobile's network uses the Data Plan, as long as the device making the connection supports GPRS, not minutes.

by Blake | Nov 8, 2006 10:55:35 AM

Thanks Andrew for the reply. And please keep up the good work =) You're very relied upon.

by Michael Capalbo | Nov 9, 2006 6:31:00 AM

While we are in the process of handing out compliments - Andrew, Treonauts is really great, it is my primary source of things Treo related and I check it almost daily! I really love how you really seem to know everything that matters about the Treo's. Your articles are well informed and very practical. You have made me enjoy my Treo more then I would have otherwise. Thanx.

by Duane | Nov 9, 2006 10:20:16 AM

Awesome post, just the sort of information we need to protect ourselves as well as remind ourselves why we've come to trust the Palm OS with the data of our lives.

by kyle | Nov 15, 2006 8:19:30 AM

Blake you may want to look into purchasing a unlocked treo & get T-Mobile service. It is great. I had the sam issue with Sprint & made the move 3 yrs ago. Andrew I have been looking for a great email & snappermail seems to be the best thought. Is snapper the best or is there one better? (one that actually shows the pics)

by Pat | Dec 5, 2006 1:55:28 PM

I have a new 680 unlocked GSM. I had my 600 backed up on an sd card with RBackuo. I replaced my software, and must have done something really wrong. My Treo 680 when connected to the hot sync cord loops with the palm screen, will not do a hard reset, and I am stuck. I have removed all of the software and it still won't do a hard reset. I have removed the battery and let it sit 2 hours, and it is still the same way. Can anyone help me?

by Chuck | Jan 10, 2007 11:14:51 PM

It is a long story but my 680 phone had problems so Cingular sent me a new one. I need to send my old 680 back to Cingular, but I can not perform a factory reset according to the instructions. Does anyone know of an alternative or how to perform a Zero Out reset on a 680? Thanks in advance!

by Carl | Jan 7, 2008 12:47:05 PM

Tried it on my 700p several times. Just got a checkered red, green, blue and white screen. Can't get it to go blank. Any suggestions?

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