(Last updated Nov 24, 2008)
Sometime in the future (if you haven’t experienced a crash already, you’re quite lucky if you haven’t, btw), you will experience a crash in the Palm. It can be due to software conflicts between the device and third party applications, lack of freely available RAM of dynamic heap memory, unexpected button press, a bug in the program, etc. Regardless, the Palm will crash if an unexpected result occurs that the Palm does not know how to handle.
Backup as preventative measure
Locking down programs
Free Up Cache
Scan for database corruption
Diagnose crash source
Getting out of Reset Loop
A list of resets
Soft reset apps and programs
As I have discussed previously, the best way to avoid problems and hassles is to prevent or at least minimize the damage or harm. The best way is by a backup. If you have an archive of backups, you can easily restore the Palm back to what it was days, weeks, or even months ago. Or, simply just restore an individual program or file if you’ve figured out which application or file is causing the crash or problem.
Backup BEFORE installing new programs
I’ve found that the best way to avoid potential problems that are related to a newly installed software is to backup right BEFORE you install the new program. Why? This is obviously to SAVE or backup everything that is in your Palm device so that if anything happens, you can do a hard reset, factory reset or zero out reset (if available for your device) and then fire up your backup program on the SD card and just restore everything back. I personally have found that it works very well for me since I do beta testing for some programs from time to time. Sometimes, a hard reset will work, while other times, I need to do the factory or zero out reset to fully wipe everything out and restore things back to what it was before I installed the problematic program. That is probably the only way to minimize hassles and avoid the install everything back one by one which does take a bit of time. Of course, that requires you to remember to do that special BACKUP before you install that exciting new game or program you’ve found on the internet. But even if you didn’t do it, if you have backup from a previous day, you can do the same thing. Hard or factory reset and then restore from a previous day’s archive. You may lose a few settings or files or programs if you’ve gotten something new since that last backup but at least it’s still better than starting back from scratch.
I have already discussed backup programs and strategies in a previous posting Putting it all together: Pt 4: Restoring from your backup folder. Click on the link to the article if you haven’t read that posting and the next part, Putting it all together: Pt 5: Back up your Palm just in case. I have also discussed how to perform a hard reset (wiping out everything in the Palm) and restoring files and programs back to the Palm in those postings.
If you are experiencing reset loops when you are doing a hotsync, please check out this hotsync reset loop posting.
If you own any of the newer devices with NVFS (Non-Volatile File System ie.permanent storage that will survive even the battery removal)(ie. Treo 650, TE2, TX, Lifedrive) you may discover that the Palm tends to crash much more often than the older devices.
Unlike the older Palm handhelds, databases are located in the NVFS storage and can’t be accessed directly. Rather, they are accessed through a reserved RAM area called DBCache. As the name implies, it’s really a “cache” of the Database in the NVFS storage, something similar to the “cache” in the computer. In order to use or access the data in NVFS, the data must be copied to the DBCache and then the changes are copied back to NVFS. The data remains stored in the DBCache and only gets removed when the DBCache is full. Also, the position of the database and their records are no longer constant (as they were with older Palm devices). This is the main cause of most crashes that happen on NVFS devices. Depending on the hacks and other background running applications which may not be aware or coded to accomodate for this changing database position characteristic, unexpected errors and actions may result, which may cause the crashes that many users experience.
One way to minimize the crashes due to this is to install an application like Resco Locker (freeware) that will “lock” an application in memory. Keeping possible problematic applications locked in memory may minimize crashes and many people have noticed that locking TextPlus has increased stability on the newer devices which seem to conflict with TextPlus. Please note to NOT lock any application until you have determined that it is crashing or causing problems. Locking applications may cause them to work or not work because you are “locking” them.
So, if you are experiencing frequent crashes on your NVFS device, try this and see if it helps. Again, Resco Locker will provide no benefit for non NVFS devices as the older Palms do not have the changing database position characteristic that the NVFS devices exhibit.
There’s a new application that may also help your NVFS crash less if not make it load faster. Every time when the NVFS Palm device resets, launch code 5 is sent to ALL applications. If you have a lot of programs installed, you can imagine the amount of time it make take to send a launch code 5 to all the applications. Some programs will ignore it while other programs will need to receive the launch 5 code to work properly. Such applications include: Alarm, Backup, hack programs and extensions and other programs that may be needed to run in the background. With UnCache you can specify which applications get that launch 5 code so that they get loaded and which ones don’t get the code after a reset. It may make loading programs faster, and possibly decrease the crashes you may experience. Why? As discussed previously, with more data loaded into the dbCache, since the database is not constant, there may be possible fragmentation in the dbCache and some programs may not be programmed to deal with the changing database positions. Whenever an unexpected result happens, the program and the Palm will crash. Again, make sure you back up your Palm before installing this or any new application to minimize any problems you may experience due to software conflicts, etc.
Other DBCache related apps that NVFS device owners may want to check out include: DBCache Tool, and MemInfo. The previous link to the 1src posting has an incorrect link to the developer’s site. Here’s the direct link to the DBCache Tool file.
DBCacheTool will allow you to empty or clear some (not all) of what’s in DBCache. Depending on the circumstances, it can help, but sometimes, you just have to do a soft reset to get a bigger block of memory. MemInfo also does similar functions. I use both but as I’ve said, sometimes, the only way to get more memory is to do a manual soft reset. That’s when having a “reset” program like SoftReset, mReset, or just simply a one line program that will instruct the Palm to do a reset comes handy. That way, you don’t have to open up the slider, or remove the battery cover (as in the Treo 650) and poke your stylus in the reset hole. I have mReset to be launched using Switch5.
Another great idea from fellow Brighthand member, holvoetn is to set the Palm to automatically reset at a specific time every day, so that it will be good to go for the rest of the day without crashes. He has written up a great informative posting on how to do so with freewares (Crony, Bird and Soft Reset). Check out the posting here
And here’s a posting at PDA247 by hansschmucker explaining the reasons why NVFS causes so many problems.
Also, here’s another very informative article from myTreo.net’s FAQ which explains more details about NVFS on the Treo and info on some of the utilities I’ve mentioned previously.
Sometimes, a corrupted database in the Date Book may cause problems with the operation of the Palm or cause software conflicts which may affect the stability of other programs or of the Palm OS itself. You can download a free utility dbScan from PimlicoSoftware (creators of Datebk5) which can scan and fix your Date Book database for database corruptions.
The same developer of dbScan has created an even better database corruption scanning and fixing software called DbFixIt. This program will scan through the PIM databases in the Palm and fix all the errors it finds. The trial version will only scan and report the errors it finds. If you need to to fix it, you will need to register for the program.
I have found during the initial scan of over 520+ BLOB errors (data appended to the end of a PIM record) and since I have personally experienced my share of hotsync problems (all due to corrupted PIM databases like Calendar, Memos, Contacts, To Dos, etc), I knew that I needed it. If you don’t find any errors, then, dbScan will likely be sufficient for you.
Palm Desktop database repair
You can also check for any database corruption in the Palm Desktop. Go into Tools menu, select Options. In the dialog box, select the Tools tab. At the bottom next to ‘Check and repair any corrupted records’, click on the Check Now button. Don’t forget to check ‘Remove All Deleted Records’ as well so that if it does find the errors that they will get deleted. Usually, when you get DmWrite errors, it’s related to the PIM databases and records so try using this and the dbscan and see if they fix the problem.
There are a couple of free utility programs that can help you diagnose which third party Palm applications are causing the Palm to crash or causing problems. You may find them helpful when experiencing frequent crashes that you can’t pinpoint yourself.
Stability Test is a free utility from the creators of Fly-Zip that can test the various applications installed on your Palm to determine if they are causing any problems.
Since FlyZip is no longer in business, it may not be available from various websites anymore. The above link is to mytreo.net. Try also this link from Softpedia.com
Please let me know of any dead links. Thanks.
There’s also another utility called PalmInternals which is from the developer, Igor Nesterov who brought you YAHM (Yet Another Hack Manager. This is quite a bit more of a technical program but it does offer a lot of information to sift through to get an idea. Check out this thread at Treocentral for more info on this program.
Also direct link to the zip file from the developer’s site
ResetEmu is another free utility from the creators of Energy Dimmer and Crash Pro that can help you diagnose and determine which applications are causing problems.
It’s been discussed that Documents to Go may cause a crash when you invoke a search using the Palm Find utility. Some people have discussed going into Docs To Go (Word and Excel) and unchecking the option “Include in global Find” in the preferences. On a similar note, check your third party application programs and see if there is an option to “disable in global find”. Or, if you need to do a search within an application, just do the search in that application rather than using the Palm Find. I’ve read that some people have mentioned Agendus may crash the palm if invoked. Most times, you can have some idea which application is causing the crash when the Palm is doing the search as you’ll see which application it is searching.
If you do determine a particular application is causing resets or crashes, I’d suggest contacting the developer of the application with your problem and hopefully he will find an update or fix for it.
Here’s a copy of an excellent list of procedures to perform (taken from GoTreoSoftware when you are in a “reset loop” and can’t get out
My Treo is in a RESET LOOP! How do I stop it?
If your Treo is continually resetting itself over an over again, this is how to recover from this condition without having to Hard reset your device!
1) Press and HOLD the 5-way UP navigation control
2) Press and release the reset button on the back of the Treo
3) Continue to hold the 5-way UP navigation until the Treo displays the Preferences screen or the Phone application
4) Release the 5-way UP navigation key
5) Press the Green Phone button to display the phone application
6) Enter this error code number into the phone application and then hit DIAL/SEND
7) If there is an application name listed that you are familiar with, remove that application or move that application to the SD Card then go to step 29
8) If going to the default application screen (Launcher) causes another reset loop, repeat steps 1-4 and then go to the next step
9) HotSync the application FileZ to your Treo (http://GoTreoSoftware.com/downloads/ota/3rdparty/filez.prc)
10) Press the GREEN phone button to enter the phone application
11) Press the menu key or tap on carrier name in the upper left corner of the phone application display to open the menu system
12) Select EDIT FAVORITES PAGES….
13) Tap on the first EMPTY Favorites entry
14) Wait for the Add Favorites screen to appear
15) For TYPE select APPLICATION
16) Tap on LABEL
17) Find and Select the application FILEZ from the list
18) Select OK
19) Select DONE
20) Press the 5-WAY DOWN to open the favorites area in the phone application
21) Find the new FILEZ entry in the favorites and TAP on it to run the FILEZ application
22) Wait for the FILEZ application to display its screen
23) Tap on VIEW AND EDIT FILES
24) Tap on the arrow ( |> ) next to the word INTERNAL
25) Scroll to the application you need to delete
26) Tap on the target application name. A small check mark will appear next to the application name
27) Tap on the name FILEZ in the upper left corner of the screen to open the menu screen
28) Select DELETE and say YES to the confirmation
29) Press and release the RESET button on the back of the Treo
30) If a reset loop continues return to step 1 until the reset loop stops.
Aside from diagnosing and determining which third party applications are causing problems, you may find that doing specific resets can also temporarily help. I will discuss some of the resets available that you can use if you experience problems with the Palm.
There are three popular resets (soft, warm, and hard) that you will most likely be doing, although there are countless more different resets that can be performed, depending on your device.
I have created a video performing some of the resets in my How To perform resets posting.
Added Oct 17, 2006: As well, the second installment of the How to perform factory resets is now also posted. Keep in mind that that “factory reset” is pretty much the “hard reset” which wipes out all data and restores the Palm device back to factory, out of the box settings. This may be the last resort to clear out whatever is causing the problems, rreset loops and crashes for those with the newer NVFS devices.
Whenever you experience a crash on the Palm. Or suddenly, the Palm has become unresponsive, or strange things start to happen, or any taps or button pressing doesn’t work, you may need to perform a soft reset. Doing this in most cases will restore the palm back to its previous state. This is similar to the Ctrl-Alt-Delete in Windows, or the quick reboot or pressing the Reset button on the computer. The soft reset stops everything that was running and resets the Palm to start back up again, something similar to doing a reboot in Windows, or pressing any reset button in an electronic device.
Reset hole in the Zire 71
To perform a soft reset, simply poke one end of an unfolded paper clip (or a similar object that can fit) into the RESET hole (usually located at the back of the Palm device). Sometimes with Palms that have a slider, the RESET hole can only be accessed if the slider is out, exposing the RESET hole that is normally hidden.
To find out where the RESET hole is located on your device, check out Palm’s knowledgebase article here.
Also, check out my How To series posting on performing the resets which also includes links to videos where I’ve shown how to do the various resets.
Sometimes, when a soft reset doesn’t cure a problem, you may want to try a warm reset. A warm reset is similar to booting up a Windows computer in Safe Mode, which only loads the absolute necessary files required to load the Palm and bypasses a lot of other settings and files. Just like in Safe Mode, you can easily delete whatever application or files is causing the problem and then have the palm working fine again.
Press up on the D-Pad button
To perform a warm reset, press the “up” button on your D-Pad, or the 5-way navigator/joystick button and hold it while you poke the unfolded paper clip or similar object in the RESET hole. Don’t release the up button until you see the Palm splash logo, and then release it.
When you have tried both soft and warm resets and have exhausted all other methods in trying to fix the problem, the hard reset may be your last option. But before you do a hard reset, which will wipe all data on your Palm and return it back to the factory state it was in when it was shipped, you may want to try the other ideas I’ve mentioned below regarding dbscan, Stability test and ResetEmu.
The hard reset will wipe everything stored in the Palm including your settings, preferences along with all the files, programs you’ve installed in RAM, returning it back to the default factory setting and state that it was just like when you first opened your Palm. Most times, a hard reset will solve the crash problems but it will mean that you will need to re-install, and re-load your files and programs back in.
Power button on the Zire 71
To perform a hard reset, press down on the Power button and keep it held down while you poke the unfolded paper clip or similar object into the RESET hole. Keep the Power button held down until you see the Palm splash logo come up. At that time, the Palm will come up with a screen asking for confirmation to erase all data on the Palm.
The confirmation screen for a hard reset
Press “up” on the button that represents the “up” direction on the D-Pad, or 5-way navigator/joystick. If done correctly, the Palm should return back to its factory settings. Check to make sure that all your installed programs and files are no longer available in the launcher. If they are still there, you have not performed the hard reset correctly and most likely did a soft reset. Try again, making sure that you press up to confirm the erasure of all data on the Palm.
More resets for different devices and situations
There are many more resets that can be peformed on the Palm device, depending on the specific model and whether it is of the newer Palms with NVFS which require a different reset to wipe out all data. With the Treo 650, the zero out reset is the TRUE HARD RESET that will restore the Treo back to factory condidtions. I have only discussed the three main popular ones that most Palm users will need to use. You may want to check out these links to find whether your specific Palm device requires a different reset.
Check out this Brighthand FAQ posting for a more detailed and extensive list of resets you can perform.
As well, here’s a link to Palm’s knowledgebase article on the various resets
Please note that although you may have correctly done a “hard reset”, what usually happens is that when you do your next Hotysnc (without making any adjustments to the Backup folder in Windows), that Hotsync will re-load and re-install everything back (including all the stuff and files that you wanted to delete) back into the Palm. In order to prevent this from happening, you must rename your Backup folder to something else, or everything will get re-loaded back. Check out this posting on Hotsync as a backup for more info.
Here are a few software applications that show up as icons in the Palm launcher, that either, when tapped, will imediately do a soft reset, or, go into a screen where you tap again on an onscreen button to do a soft reset. As many crashes occur due to running out of memory, doing a soft reset will remove a lot of files running in RAM and and free up dynamic heap memory so that there’s less potential of experiencing a crash for this reason.
You can either simply install them and when you want to do the soft reset, tap on the icon and have it do the soft reset, or map the application to a hardware button so that you can simply press on a hardware button and have it soft reset immediately. I have done it myself, mapping a soft reset app to a hardware button and it’s very nice.
Soft Reset Program
Michau’s Reset Tool
RNS: Soft Reset
For button mapping application suggestions, please check out this posting on button launcher apps.
Automatically soft reset when the Palm crashes
There is a Palm application that can do a soft reset automatically when it detects a crash in the Palm. So you no longer need to find an unfolded paper clip and open up the slider to do the soft reset.
Crash (disable pop ups before clicking on this link) and Crash Pro offer the ability to automatically do a soft reset the device when it detects that the Palm has experienced a crash. The Pro version offers much more features like logging, the ability to set the image that shows when Crash Pro runs and the ability to set the time before the soft reset happens.
I have tried Crash and it does work. However, I did find that I didn’t like having to wait for Crash to detect a crash and then waiting a few more seconds of its countdown before it does the soft reset. Originally when my Zire 71 was closed and I needed to open up the slider and do the soft reset, I was somewhat willing to wait. But since I now have the slider permanently open, I find I didn’t have the patience to wait so I ended up removing the program and rely on the paper clip instead. Crash works, but for me, it doesn’t work fast enough (or I guess I’m not as patient as I should be). I have a reset app, or something that contains essentially a line of code telling the Palm to do the soft reset mapped to a hardware button so that I can easily do the soft reset. But, if an application has crashed, it won’t necessarily be responsive to the hardware button presses and a paper clip is still needed. I always have one or two handy, usually in the Palm case.
Monitor memory usage to prevent crashes and potential problesm
TealMembrain Plus may not really help diagnose a crash, but being able to monitor memory usage, which is a main cause of crashes (ie. out of memory errors) can be very handy. This program is an application stack stabilizer and will monitor memory usage. Unfortunately, this only runs on OS 4 or earlier.
In the next part of this series, I will be discussing on how to deal with a sudden unresponsive screen or when the Palm isn’t detecting the stylus taps correctly.
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: archives categories dbscan stabilitytest resetemu softreset warmreset hardreset reset crash crashpro palmproblems palm rescolocker dbcachetool meminfo uncache dbfixit palminternals paperclip michaus-reset-tool mreset tealmembrainplus
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