password protection

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A reader shared her computer disaster and we want to pass on the warning.

Her iPhone broke and she spent five hours at the Apple store before the guys at the “Genius Bar” (they really do have a “genius bar”) suggested she get a new one. Fortunately, she’d copied her contacts and appointments from her phone onto her Windows PC. Unfortunately, during backup, she didn’t notice a small box that was already checked and automatically encrypted the contents. Later, she didn’t remember the password to undo the encryption. “Keep trying to think of the password,” said the guys at genius bar. (Don’t think we need a genius for that advice.)

Frustrated, she tried the $29 “iPhone Backup Extractor,” from, hoping it would in fact extract her data. But she still needed the password. The company suggested she try the $59 pro edition, which is refundable if they can’t get back her valuable appointments and contacts. What they’re trying to do is guess the password. The National Security Agency could probably do it.

We agree with her conclusion: Apple should have a pop-up message before you back up, something like, “Are you sure you want an encrypted backup?” Should this ever come up for you, write down the password — since you won’t be able to get your stuff back without it!


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