An Old Option Returns

Posted on Monday 29 September 2008

I had the opportunity to revisit a piece of software that I first evaluated about 8 years ago.

Back then I was looking for a database engine for my Palm IIIc, ( which, of course, has been upgraded several times since then ). I had narrowed the choices down to two commercial packages, JFile and HandDBase. Both of which, I’m pleased to report, are still available and still going strong!

Back then my choice was JFile. The main reason it was my choice was the large variety of free databases available for it. Why build something ( like a database for HTML tags, or World Aiports with codes and phone numbers ) when someone else has already done it for me!

Don’t get me wrong, HanDBase has many free databases as well, but back then JFile seemed to be the software of choice. It was very heavily used by medical professionals, and as a result thousands of medical and other databases were available for it.

Fast forward to today.

While I still have my Palm ( now a T5, and still running JFile ) my wife has upgraded her cell phone to an HTC-620 smart phone. Which ( fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view ) runs Windows Mobile ( or more accurately Windows CE ).

She has been using it to manage client contact list but was keeping all her sensitive data on a second secure machine and was getting frustrated in having to use two different machines to do it. So of course I went to work looking for a freeware solution for her smart phone.

I was looking for a utility/database that would encrypt the contact information and of course password protect them. There are a lot of packages out there that are available, of varying capabilities and functionality. However, a major problem was quickly noticed. Not all Windows Mobile versions work the same on all portable phones and smart devices!

I spent days reviewing capabilities and selecting options that “should have worked” but didn’t. It was unbelievable and extremely frustrating. Time after time the software either refused to install, or installed and refused to run! It was unbelievable!

So I finally decided to check out the commercial stuff, hoping it would work better. My first choice was JFile. It has never let me down. Unfortunately, it is still only available for the Palm platform. Which was unfortunate, because it really would have been nice to go with something that I knew and was very comfortable with. My next choice to try was of course HanDBase and when I checked their website – they had a Windows Portable version available!

HanDBase installed flawlessly, without any complaints or insistance on “other software packages”. That in itself was a shock and showed how well designed their windows package was. HanDBase comes with a 15 day evaluation period and five sample databases to play with. One of which almost met my needs out of the box!

Databases are very easy to create, and you can set encryption/password protection at several layers ( based on selected field names and/or the complete database. ) The package comes with a high level of encryption that can be turned off or on ( once you have successfully opened the database. ) I was able to design exactly what she wanted within 5 minutes and will be able to add or change the fields later as she wishes.

One major advantage of HanDBase is that it also installs on your Windows PC. So you can actually access your database ( with password security ) on either machine, make your changes and synchronize them with the other machine making both databases up-to-date and accessbile.

HanDBase is becoming very poplular on portable Windows devices and as such many, many more free databases are also available for download and installation. So she was happy to find several other items installed for her use and enjoyment Such as aromatherapy, what happened in history today and cooking substitutions to name a few.

If you are looking for an easy to use and very secure database/information management tool for your Windows Mobile based smart phone, then I seriously recommend that you take a look at HanDBase.

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