Careful with contacts on Nokia N900: deleting can remove them from your Skype, GTalk and other IM servers!
Tight integration with various Instant Messaging services (Skype, GTalk, MSN Messenger, etc;) is one of the great features of Nokia N900.
It’s super convenient. I crowed about it in my first impressions review of Nokia N900.
You just enter your IM login details, and all your contacts from them appear in the address book. It might take some work of merging these contacts, especially for the incomplete profiles, but then they are there, and when you want to talk to someone, you just have to select how – Skype, GTalk, SMS, e-mail or phone call.
It just works, and changed my communications patterns on the go significantly. These days I’m doing much more IM/Skype on the go then ever before. Or was.
Because I just experienced a major flaw in this merged phonebook approach on Nokia N900. And lost most of my Skype and Gtalk contact list from the last 6 years in the process.
It turns out, that when you delete a contact from the address book on Nokia N900, the process does not stop with the handset. If you merged the contact’s Skype, Gtalk and mobile phone info, or if you just want to remove IM contact clutter from the phone – N900 goes and removes that info from IM service servers too!
Recently I wanted to delete all the contacts from my N900 phonebook. And did just that. I did not find “Delete all” option at the time (It’s carefully hidden under the “Settings” option), so went about it the manual way. “Delete contacts”, then manually selecting and deleting a number of them.
In the process, I got a message saying “Deleting contacts will also remove them from the server”, but didn’t think twice about that. I had a backup, and what do I care about contact removal from some server?
I should have. Because by the “server”, my N900 meant Skype and Gtalk servers. And promptly removed all the contacts from there. The only info from those servers that was backed up, was info for the merged contacts. Which was something like 5% of all contacts I had. The rest of the contacts on Skype and Gtalk is just gone.
Later, when I tried to figure out what happened, I found an option to delete all contacts more quickly and safely. It’s a “Delete all contacts” option, under the “Settings” in contacts menu. And it does not remove IM contacts. But it was too late.
Should I have been more careful at the time? Yes. And, if I was removing a single Skype contact from the list, and N900 said – we are going to remove this contact from the server, I would, probably, have been more careful. After all, if I am removing Skype contact on my PC, I fully expect it to disappear into the ether.
But N900 is not a PC. And as much as it is like a computer, as much as it has changed my communication patterns, deep down, I still think about it as a smartphone. And when I am deleting 10-30 contacts from it’s address book, some of them plain phone contacts, some of them from Skype and GTalk, I do not expect my IM contacts to be removed from the cloud too.