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6 tips for staying safe when using BlackBerry Messenger

Utilise a handset's IM function without getting into trouble

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) - the IM application for RIM handsets - isn't new, but it is growing in popularity. Unfortunately, it's attracting spammers as well as users. Here's six top tips to avoid trouble when using BBM.

Back up BBM contacts regularly

As with any computer or handheld, it's a very good idea to back up your BBM - and your entire BlackBerry - regularly. If your smartphone is associated with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES),

RIM's latest version of BBM (v5.0) added a new feature that lets you manually back up your messenger contacts to your device's internal memory or a microSD memory card.

In the past, a separate, PC-based BlackBerry Desktop Manager or other piece of software was required for backup, but today the whole process can be device-based.

To backup your BBM contacts manually, open BBM and hit your BlackBerry Menu key, located directly to the left of your trackball/trackpad.

Scroll down to the Contact List section and open the box next to 'Save a copy of your contact list'.

Next, choose whether you want to back up your contacts locally (on a memory card) or remotely to RIM's BBM servers.

(Note: you'll need to associate your BBM account with an email address to access the remote-contact-backup feature.)

Be wary of BBM Groups...

In addition to the contact-backup option, RIM added a number of new features and functionalities to BBM in its 5.0 update, released late last year.

Among those features is a new BBM 'Groups' option.

BBM Groups, basically a mobile group-chat app, can be quite useful in coordinating disparate work-groups or for communicating during large conferences or events.

The problem: it can also seriously affect your device's overall performance and become both a nuisance and a time-drain.

That's because notifications are on by default when you join a new Group. And until you turn each alert off, you're notified whenever a member of the group comments, posts an image or anything else.

This can be frustrating, but it's easy enough to solve that problem.

Just launch your BBM app and click on a Group's name to open it up. Then hit your BlackBerry Menu key and choose 'Group Details' from the pop-up menu.

You'll then be able to modify notification and message-list-integration settings, as well as specify whether or not you want to backup message history, automatically save pictures posted by Group members and more.

The two most troublesome things about BBM Groups, in my opinion, are the drain it puts on your device battery, and the fact that anyone who's part of one of your Groups can choose to add you to their messenger lists.

At one point, I was a part of three fairly active BBM Groups and the notifications and refreshes alone nearly cut my BlackBerry battery life in half.

As stated above, I purposely don't connect with many people on BBM - I have fewer than 50 contacts at the moment.

And the Group-invite feature also lets anyone else who's invited to the Group by its other members add you as a contact.

That means I have to ignore more invites than I would without Groups.

My advice is not to avoid BBM Groups completely; I think the feature can be truly valuable.

But you'll need to set your notifications and alerts wisely, as well as be wary of joining too many BBM Groups.

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NEXT PAGE: Accept file transfers from only trusted contacts

  1. Utilise a handset's IM function without getting into trouble
  2. Back up BBM contacts regularly
  3. Accept file transfers from only trusted contacts

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