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February 2nd, 2013

Replacing my Nexus 7 @ 12:38 am

Current Location: Ypsilanti, MI

Last week, I discovered that the camera on my Nexus 7 was no longer working.  I was unable to find a troubleshooting page that addressed a camera failure.  I called the support number I found for Google devices.  I was expecting to be run through a series of checks to verify that the camera was indeed inoperative.  Instead, they accepted my description of what the device was displaying as sufficient evidence of the failure.  So far, so good.

Then, I was transferred to an RMA agent.  There were a few more questions and verbal instructions to be sure I understood the process.  I was also going to get an email with attachments I would need.  When I was asked if I needed anything else, I asked about the process for moving my data from the old device to the new device.  When the agent did not understand what I wanted, I thanked her for her time.  I figured she was only an RMA specialist and didn't know the technology.  This was my first warning.

I got the expected email.  It included the needed attachments.  It also included the instructions on how to handle the physical exchange of the devices.  There was nothing on how to migrate the data.  This was my second warning.

The last warning came when I did a Google search for information regarding migrating data from the old device to the new device.  The results fell into two camps:  it "just worked" and "very difficult if possible at all".

Before I get into what I actually did, let me make one point clear:  my device is not rooted.  Backup and restore would have been much easier if it had been.  Also, I still had access to my old device.  Without that being available, there would have been data loss.  Finally, actually getting the replacement was quick and easy.  The actions filling 10 pages of notes all come after the new device was delivered by Second Day Air.

I inventoried the apps loaded on the old device and all the data I could find.  I then booted the new device and signed into my network and my Google account.  After completing the initial setup, I went about setting things as I wanted them.  At this point, one of the widgets I wanted was missing.  As I was writing that lack down, I was prompted about 16 updates for already installed apps, 4 of which required manual actions to complete.  Then I got a prompt to upgrade the system version.  This was done, including the required reboot.  I am now on the latest version of Android.

The missing widget appeared as part of the system upgrade.  I went through all the settings.  I updated my profile as nothing had come down from either my Google account or my Google+ profile.  Eventually, I got linked with my profile, but it seems to have required getting out of Settings and launching the Google+ app.  At this point, I placed the two devices side-by-side and installed all the missing apps.  One thing that did not make it was my personal dictionary.

None of the settings came over with the apps.  None of the data was available that did not reside in the cloud.  One local database and all the ePubs I had loaded from Calibre had to be copied manually from the old device to the new device.  Luckily, I found that the file management app I had installed, ES File Explorer, included an FTP server function.  This allowed me to transfer the missing items directly.  Everything else was in the cloud and could be retrieved with just a few clicks.  Some of these were large and took a while to complete downloading, but they didn't require additional action.

Once I was sure everything that could be transferred had been, I performed a factory reset on the old device, powered it off, and packed it in the box the new device had arrived in.

Again, if I had lost the old device, this would have been a much uglier experience.  One, there should be a mechanism to create a backup of all non-system objects on an Android device.  Two, there should have been a way to assign the new device as the successor to the old one.  Even just allowing the settings to be cloned would have saved a lot of effort.  Three, good, bad, or ugly, there needs to be a document provided on how this process should be accomplished.  Eventually, users are going to want to upgrade to newer devices.  If this is too painful, they may decide to get their new device from someone else.

I am disappointed by the failure of the camera and I wish the migration has been easier.  However, I am still quite happy with my Nexus 7.  I'm still learning how to use it.  I am also getting used to my new Android phone.  I hope that, by the time I am ready for a new phone, the migration process is much better.
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