Pilot HotSync FAQ
July 3, 1997
This collection is provided as a service to the Pilot community. It
makes statements that are probably too risky for USR to make. However,
USR is the ultimate authority; any statement made by USR supercedes anything
said here. For USR information on HotSync, see:
General Tips: http://www.usr.com/palm/custsupp/hotsync.html
Using 2 PCs: http://www.usr.com/palm/custsup/duplicat.html
Where is My Data: http://www.usr.com/palm/custsupp/lostdata.html
HotSync 1.1 Info: http://www.usr.com/palm/custsupp/hs11rdme.html
Network HotSync: http://www.usr.com/palm/custsupp/csnetsyncfaq.html
Mac HotSync: http://www.usr.com/palm/custsupp/macfaqs.html
What is HotSync 1.1?
See above. HotSync 1.1 is an upgrade from the original version of the HotSync
code. It replaces the original HotSync 1.0 code that most of us got with
Why change from HotSync 1.0 to HotSync 1.1?
HotSync 1.0 had a problem with backing up the data from 3rd party apps
(like DinkyPad). If you only use the basic 4 apps (addresses, datebook,
notepad and todo) then you needn't be in any rush to upgrade.
See the notes above, at www.usr.com.
What is HotSync 2.0?
HotSync 2.0 is the sync system that comes with the Pilot Professional and
the Pilot Personal. It fixes most of the bugs known in HotSync 1.0 and
The chart that was here has been superceded by http://www.usr.com/palm/custsupp/softcomp.html
What are .prc files? What are .pdb files?
The .prc files contain programs that are intended to be sent/installed
on the Pilot. See the next item for "how". A .prc file has all the program,
menus, strings, pictures, etc. that it needs to run. Usually a .prc file
is self contained, but sometimes you must also install an associated .pdb
The .pdb files contain data that can be sent to the Pilot. These files
only contain data. You can send them to the Pilot using the same techniques
as you would use for .prc files.
If you look around on your PC under the c:\pilot directory, you will
see several files.
If you want to see what's in a .prc or .pdb file, try this
In the Install directory, you may find .prc and .pdb files, ready and waiting
to be sent to the Pilot. These files will stay here until they are finally
installed onto the Pilot.
In the Update directory, you may find a .prc file, which makes minor changes
to the way the Pilot runs. It's just another .prc.
In the username/Backup directory, you should find several .pdb files. The
Graffiti_Shortcuts.pdb will almost certainly be there, but there may be
others. This is where the HotSync program puts data that it finds on the
Pilot that it doesn't know how to backup. They all share a similar format.
In the directories Address, DateBook, MemoPad and ToDo, you
will find the data files that are used for the 4 main Pilot apps. These
files are NOT in .pdb format. They are in a special format, controlled
by the Pilot.exe program (in cooperation with its conduits). Do not attempt
to install these files as you would other .pdb files. As a reminder, they
all end in ".dat". [You can, however, copy them to another place on your
hard drive, just in case these versions get messed up. Personally, I make
copies of these 4 .dat files every month.]
How do I deal with installing things onto the Pilot?
To install a program (a .prc file), you can use
the InstApp program that comes with the Pilot; read the Pilot docs
run Mark Pierce's installer
use Eric Eilebrecht's silent
use Harry O's Ripcord; this
installs multiple files and keeps a history; preferred
To install data, you can
use any of the above to install new data, such as DOC books
set the PilotDesktop to "PC overwrites Pilot" on AddressBook, MemoPad,
DateBook, ToDo list and System. The latter will move any data in the Backup
directory back to the Pilot. Be careful if you are using an older (pre
1/3/97) HotSync 1.1; the data in the Backup directory may be stale.
use the Generic Conduit
System to selectively move app data back and forth through a conduit
What about backing up the entire Pilot memory?
The Generic Conduit System
(ver 2.0) includes the ability to pull all the data out of a Pilot and
save it on the PC. Certain data files will not reinstall back to
the Pilot, so be careful.
HotSync won't start. Never did.
HotSync won't start. It used to, but now it won't.
Check the COM port. Make sure nothing else is connected. In the HotSync
Options menu, check that you have selected the correct COM port.
Some people have reported that, if they use the COM port for something
else (other than a HotSync), they must close the HotSync.exe and restart
it. This is normal.
If you use a laptop, it is possible that your COM port is going into
a power-down state. You may need to set the power down options on your
laptop with power-managment tools.
My memopad doesn't sync; everything else is fine.
My todo list doesn't sync; everything else is fine.
To work with HotSync 1.0, several third party conduits captured either
the memopad or the todo list. If these apps were installed and not uninstalled
they may have left behind the "traps", preventing normal HotSync transfers
on these databases.
Your choices are:
go back and uninstall the app
Win95: Click on Start, Run and type REGEDIT. On the left hand
side, navigate through till you have HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Palm Computing/Pilot
Below "Pilot Desktop", check for any "ApplicationX" where X is 0,1,2....
These are where the "traps" are placed. If you delete these "ApplicationX"
entries, you will restore your desktop to it's original state. You will
thereby disable any of the 3rd party conduits that you have installed;
Win3.1: Open Explorer. Go to the Windows directory. Double click
on Pilot.INI. Run through it looking for a group called [ApplicationX],
where X is 0,1,2.... These are where the "traps" are placed. If you delete
these "ApplicationX" entries, you will restore your desktop to it's original
state. You will thereby disable any of the 3rd party conduits that you
have installed; caution.
HotSync starts up, but stops before any data is transferred.
HotSync 1.1: Several people have reported this, and fixed it
by reducing the baud rate. Most work at 19200 b/s, but some have to go
down to 9600 b/s.
HotSync 1.1 runs, and appears to backup installed 3rd part apps, but only
backs them up once.
This is the way it works and is apparently a bug. The Generic
Conduit 2.0 implements a work-around.
The MacPac from USR now allows sync's to occur directly from a Mac app.
At this point, only the big 4 apps are sync'd (notebook, address, datebook
and todo). There are enough problems designing a conduit system that the
USR people decided to release the MacPack without it.
Mac users who wish to sync other databases can either:
start up SoftWindows and use the PC conduit system
take (and port) the Unix sync system
Unix users are actually in quite good shape, despite the lack of code from
USR. There is a substantial coop effort going on, and the resulting code
is at ftp://ftp.pfnet.com/pub/PalmOS.
So far, this project has code to:
pull all or partial data out of the Pilot
install apps and data onto the Pilot
dump/expose the contents of .pdb/.prc files
Please, if you have any more information on HotSync that people may find
interesting, please send it to