Backup, backup, backup

Don’t lose valuable navigational data

There is hardly a week that goes by that I don’t get asked what can be done to recover lost waypoints, tracks and or routes from a crashed or broken GPS unit or to enter waypoint data into a newer of different brand unit.

My first question is, “Did you make a backup of the data that was/is in your unit?”

If a backup of the data exists, it is a simple thing to reinstall it in a newer or different unit.

If not, you will have a hard time getting the data from a crashed of broken unit. The amount of difficulty is determined by whether the unit can be turned on or if it was totally fried.

Even when a unit is returned to the manufacturer’s support group for a repair, they wipe all of the software and data from the unit.

So with out a backup, you probably will lose all of your waypoints.

I stress at all of my seminars to backup, backup, backup all of your data.

Sooner or later that electronic GPS receiver that has an internal time piece that is accurate to billionths of a second will fail. As with any electronic device it has limited life span.

It behooves you to have all of the waypoint, tracks and routes saved.

Most, if not all, manufacturers offer backup software. Most are free when you register your unit or can be found on their product website.

Some of the data-transferring software can be found at the respective websites:

• Delorme topo USA or XMap Pro:

• Garmin HomePort:

• Garmin BaseCamp:

• Humminbird:

• Lowrance Insight Planner (also Simrad, B&G):

• Magellan GPS (Vantage Point):

• Ray Marine (Voyage Planner):

With the trend to using memory cards, the actual transfer is a simple procedure. Check the owners manual for the how to’s for your particular unit and model.

Even if you don’t transfer the data into your computer, at least you will have a copy of the data on a spare memory card. I strongly recommend that you get and use a spare memory card and not use a card that has your maps on it, as the data could overwrite the map images making them useless.

Using one of the specifically designed programs for your individual unit will allow you to transfer the data to a computer file or thumb drive for safekeeping.

In addition, these types of programs allow you to plan future trips using waypoints and routes, and even convert a track or bread crumb trail to a more permanent route.

Most of these types of transfer programs allow you to mark waypoints and construct routes on a computer using a normal keyboard and mouse, rather then trying to enter information directly into your GPS.

I backup each trip during which I have added a waypoint or configured a route when I am leaving the vessel that day. I naturally include honey holes I found that day as well as any other navigation waypoints I may have saved.

Having two memory cards allows you this option. Simply follow the instructions in the manual for transferring data. It will indicate how to load and or save the data from or to the memory card. Once on the card, it is placed in your computer’s card reader and the data transfer program is opened.

The card data is then copied or imported into the program, where you can edit the data and save it to a file.

For those of you who want to transfer data from one brand of unit to a different brand, the data will have to be converted to the new unit’s protocol. I suggest you get a free program called GPSBabel by logging onto

GPSBabel offers a free download that will convert most waypoint, markers, tracks and routes from one format to another. It can accommodate about 50 formats, converting one to any of another.

I can’t stress the importance of doing a backup of your data that is in your unit: It will save you a lot of grief and many hours of trying to reload your new or repaired unit.

About Captain Paul Titus 192 Articles
Capt. Paul Titus has been responding to G.P.S questions on since 2000. He has been fishing and hunting in Louisiana since 1957. Titus holds a USCG license and conducts instruction courses in the use of GPS for private individuals and government agencies.