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Palm owners: how to solve the "failed to backup" error for PmTraceDatabase on hotsync

Note: This blog post is from 2009. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
If you're a Palm device owner who has been annoyed that attempts to hotsync your device fail with "Hotsync session completed with errors", because it "Failed to backup 1 file", the PmTraceDatabase, I have a solution for you, from Palm.

The problem is annoying, because if you have no other sync failures (such as Outlook calendar sync errors), you can't know for sure without digging into the hotsync log.

The good news is that Palm has come out with a solution to make this finally go away:

Update: Curiously, that link I had originally offered here in 2009 goes to a page that no longer offers or explains the fixpmtrace.prc file, as it used to. That's odd.

And while I found another version of the page on the site: http://kb.hpwebos.com/wps/portal/kb/na/centro/centro/bell/solutions/article/44937_en.html. Sadly, though, even that page has a failing link to that prc file.

I found all this in answering a question someone raised as a comment.

For more details, and a possible alternative solution, see my reply comment at http://www.carehart.org/blog/client/index.cfm/2009/9/7/solving_palm_pmtracedatabase_problem#c885AB116-E50B-DEA9-80CFFE5C48A7121E.


As the Palm site page discusses, you install that app onto your phone, and then run the FixPMTrace app on your device. It's important to note that it's NOT ENOUGH just to install the app onto your device. You do have to run that app from the Palm launcher (the list of apps, accessed by the "home" key, as usual) in order to have it do its magic. All it does is turn off the archive bit on a file so it stops trying to back it up.

Hope that helps someone else.

PS And before some of you jump on me for still using a Palm, :-) just know that yes I am seriously considering moving to an iPhone after several years of relative happiness with my Palm devices. I've been using a iPod Touch for a couple of years and really like that. Carrying both devices is of course a pain, so reducing it to one just makes sense.

And yes, I know about the Palm Pre. It's just that Sprint coverage in my home is really poor, and since I generally work from home, I just can't take it anymore. The Pre won't solve that (I called: they said it wouldn't likely be any better.) Since my wife has ATT and she's been happy, the forced move to ATT with the iPhone isn't a problem.

Still, I leave this Palm tip for those who may benefit.

For more content like this from Charlie Arehart: Need more help with problems?
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Hey, thanks a bunch for this posting. I was finally irritated enough about this error to look it up. Anyway, problem solved. I've been a palm os user since my first Palm IIIe. Have upgraded over the years and have had my current Palm T|X for a few years. Still works like new. Contemplating changing to a droid of sorts, Nexus One looking good.
# Posted By mroy | 2/1/10 9:15 PM
Great to hear it helped someone. So it sounds like no iphone for you. :-) I did finally make the switch a few months ago and have been generally happy. Of course, it was about 2 weeks before the Android launch and attendant hysteria. Oh well. Locked into that AT&T contract now for a while. :-)
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 2/2/10 8:16 AM
I discovered how technologically impaired I am when my teenage daughter's boyfriend said to her, "Does your dad have a Palm? I have one of those sitting in my sock drawer"
# Posted By arcster | 2/19/10 4:20 PM
Thanks for the solution! Worked like a charm! My company requires I be reachable so they provide me with the Treo. I carry it AND and an ipod touch! Annoying, but I save money!
# Posted By Enrique | 7/12/10 10:14 AM
Thanks for the tip. It was driving me crazy. I knew there had to be a solution.

OK so Palm devices are not really cool anymore but my Palm Centro (replaced my Treo) with KeySuite Installed does more for me and costs less to use than the Internet dependent phones do. Isn't that smart?
# Posted By Woodlands Wedding Photography | 10/4/11 6:20 PM
Dear Charlie Arehart
I worked with Charlie Carhart for 13 years and find that you, like me, are his kind of guy, intelligent, clear of thought and writing, thoughtful, helpful and an all-around solid citizen. With all of us pulling in the same direction I'll bet the world will be doing even better !
Dan McGarigle
# Posted By Dan McGarigle | 5/6/13 2:20 AM
I need this file "fixpmtrace.prc"
But it seems impossible to find it in the website.
Would you release it to me, please ?
# Posted By Olivier | 8/7/13 3:43 PM
@Olivier, let me say that first, I do not have the file, no. That blog entry is from 2009, and as I commented in early 2010, I had by then moved to an iphone, and then this year I have moved to Android.

But the curious thing is that the page I point to now does not even mention that fixpmtrace.prc file, which is odd.

But as far as finding that file, let me make this a teachable moment ("teach a man to fish"): in a case like this, you can and should check out the archive.org site, which keeps old versions of nearly all web pages.

If you visit http://www.archive.o..., you can put the URL (in this case, the http://kb.palm.com/w...) in its search box, and it will tell you if it has old copies of the web site.

In this case it did, and even the latest one it has DOES have the reference to that file, as shown at:

Sadly, its link to the file fails. And I looked back over the few previous versions of the page as offered there via the archive.org search results, and all of them failed to offer a working link to that file.

But then a version of the page from early 2009 offered a different solution (using a tool called filez), as discussed at the bottom of that version of the page:


Now, the link to get the filez tool goes to a page that didn't seem to offer it, but I did find there a link to the file, shown here:


So you could try to follow the instructions on the May 2009 palm page, to use that tool, to solve the same problem.

All it seems to take is to be able to turn off the "backup" property attribute for the PmTraceDatabase file. If you have or can find any tool that can do that, you may be set.

One last thing on the above, I found another version of the page at the palm site, and at least it DOES have the info on and a link to that prc file:


Sadly, the link to the file fails! :-(

And worse, archive.org does not have any versions of that page. Bummer. I could find no other pages offering the file, so you may be stuck with the other approach above, unless someone may file the file and offer it here. (I've searched 2 computers, to no avail.)

Finally, about archive.org, I can't stress enough to readers how valuable it is: if you ever visit a site that used to work, or a page that used to exist, or there is reference to a file that is no longer there, or as in this case someone says a page had something that it now no longer does, check out archive.org.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 8/7/13 4:23 PM
Thank you for your answer. I did not know the existence of this "archive.org" website.

I have found the FileZ app here :

It is free, and it works !!
Thank you again.
# Posted By Olivier | 8/7/13 5:46 PM
@Olivier, glad to help on both points (solving the sync problem, and sharing news of archive.org).

One last thing, though: on the filez tool, note that I had said, "the link to get the filez tool goes to a page that didn't seem to offer it, but I did find there a link to the file, shown here", so you wouldn't have to look for it. :-)

Anyway, glad you found it and that the sync problem is now solved for you.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 8/8/13 8:44 AM
# Posted By pablonf | 4/23/16 11:49 AM
The known solution to this problem is to disable the "backup attribute" of the file "pmtracedatabase", that is located in the internal memory of the palm.
That can be done manually with Filez, o automatically with Fixpmtrace.
The result is the same, hotsync won't synchronize that file, kind of solving the problem.
If so some reason, the attribute changes by itself again, clicking in fixpmtrace (starting the program) will patch the thing again.


# Posted By pablonf | 4/23/16 3:59 PM
@pablonf, wow, welcome back from your trip on the time machine, to get and share that info. Or are you saying you or others still use Palm devices to this day? :-) Either way, thanks, if it may help someone.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 4/25/16 9:24 AM
Thanks for fixpmtrace download. I just used it and it worked. And, yes, I still use a Centro. I also have a Galaxy S5, but for somethings, a Palm can't be beat.
# Posted By Clint Combs | 2/18/17 3:58 AM
Charlie, I just sent an e-mail thanking you for your Blog and the info about dinasour users like me, still with my Palm T|X and the PMTrace file not being backed up error, which your blog contained.

Just wanted to thank you for your blog and the post that made an easy fix.

Nathaniel Hummel in Oceanside, CA
p.s. When I used my Thunderbird e-mail some screen came up about Google Mail so if you get a duplicate e-mail.. sorry :(
# Posted By Nathaniel Hummel | 9/25/17 5:07 AM
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