Bring Your Contacts Together and Keep Them Safe

Address BookGmail. LinkedIn. Facebook. Your phone’s address book. Your contacts may live in many places online, yet there’s always the possibility one of these places will disappear or crash, taking your information with it for good. Or perhaps you simply decide to close your account with the network.

You should consider importing the contacts from these networks into your main address book app. We use these services to connect with people, update our statuses and play with whatever features they contain, but we don’t always remember that these resources have contacts that belong in our primary address book.

Another consideration is having a secondary resource for backing up your primary address book. With most services able to import and export files as a CSV or vCard file, it has turned into a fairly easy process. For the least tedious approach, try to find a secondary resource that you can keep in sync with your primary resource — for example, Plaxo can sync your address book with Mac OS X, Yahoo!, Google and several other apps. Otherwise, you’ll have to import and export your contacts on a regular basis.

After selecting the apps for your primary and secondary sources, here are the steps to take to make sure that you have all your contacts in primary resource and backing it up to the secondary resource.

  1. Determine what kind of files your address books can import and export.
  2. Export address books from your social networks into a comma-separated (.cvs) or vCard (.vcf) file based on Step 1. Remember where you save the files.
  3. Import the addresses books from Step 2 into your primary resource. Repeat until you’ve put all of your contacts into your primary address resource.
  4. Sync your primary and secondary resources. If they don’t have a sync wizard, go to Step 5. If they have a sync wizard, make sure you synchronize them on a scheduled basis if it’s not automated. You’re done.
  5. Export the address book from your primary resource into a comma-separated (.cvs) or vCard (.vcf) file.
  6. Import the primary resource file into your secondary address book as your backup. Repeat on a scheduled basis, unless you find a way to automate it.

You might want to consider a solution that can sync with your phone — if that’s not already your primary source. That’s what I like about Google Contacts and Calendar — they sync with my favorite PC app, I can access them anywhere and they also sync with my phone. Read our contact management and application articles for ideas and apps to consider.

How do you manage all of your contacts?

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