Back Up Your Mobile Phone Contacts with Ubuntu and Bluetooth

February 20, 2009 by
Filed under: gnome, HowTo, linux, Ubuntu 

Many of the mobile phone providers offer a service to back up your phone contact list online for a monthly fee. It usually costs somewhere around $5 US per month. Why pay this fee when you can back everything up yourself? All you need is a bluetooth enabled mobile phone, a bluetooth adapter for your computer, and Ubuntu. My phone is a Samsung Alias and I'm using the built-in bluetooth adapter in my MSI Wind netbook. You may need to adjust the procedure slightly for your setup.

The bluetooth utilities on Linux are handled by a package called Bluez. The packages are installed by default on Ubuntu Hardy. If for some reason it's not installed, open a terminal and enter the command

sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez-gnome bluez-utils obex-data-server obexpushd

Once Bluez is installed and configured you should be ready to start. Plug in your USB bluetooth adapter or turn on your laptop's built-in bluetooth adapter. You should see the bluetooth icon show up in the system tray.

Before going any further you should know that the Bluez utility doesn't have any way to configure the destination for files received. All files will automatically be put on the Desktop, so you may want to clear your Desktop first.

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Turn on the bluetooth on your mobile phone and set the phone to discoverable mode. Then, on your computer, right click the bluetooth icon and select your phone and click Connect. Your phone should prompt you to accept the device pairing. Select Yes. You'll then be prompted for a passkey on your phone. Choose whatever simple passkey you want. I use 123. The bluetooth manager on your computer should now prompt you for the same passkey. Click on Enter Passkey and then enter the same passkey in the pop-up and click OK. Your phone and computer should now be paired.

You can now send your contacts from the phone to your computer. On my phone I go to the Contact List, select Options, select Send Name Card, Bluetooth. Then hit Mark All, Done. I then select wind-0 from the list, (that's how my computer shows up), and hit OK. The phone pops up a message that it's connecting and then it starts sending the contact files. Once this is done you can turn off the bluetooth adapter on your phone and computer.

You should now have a bunch of .vcf files on your Desktop. Open the file manager and create a folder for your contact list backup. Go back to your Desktop and select all of the .vcf files. Hit Ctrl+X to cut the files. Go to the file manager and paste the files into your backup folder with Ctrl+V.


5 Responses to “Back Up Your Mobile Phone Contacts with Ubuntu and Bluetooth”

  1. Mark Lloyd says:

    For me (I use Lubuntu) the files went to ~/Public , a better place since I didn't have any other files there. Restoring (as Bill said) works fine with the phone I tried.

  2. Bill says:

    I let click on the Bluetooth Icon to the left of the clock. This gives a dropdown menu where I select the phone. This in turn give the choice send files. Now you have a file browser and you select the file. I had to okay receiving the file on the phone

  3. How does one send vCards to the phone?

  4. Mario Balaban says:

    Thanks a lot! It does what I need.

  5. Anonymous says:

    For KDE users, the KDE Bluetooth Framework is called kdebluetooth.

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