Category Archives: WeChat

WeChat – Back up your chats or lose them

We love WeChat. Many of our readers like it too. Our WeChat posts are almost as popular as our Facebook posts. For that reason, here’s a tip for the holiday season: Back up your chat history.

This is the time of year when many of us get new mobile devices as gifts. Sales of tablets and smartphones peak at this time of the  year, at least in the western world. While WeChat automatically backs up your contact list, it doesn’t save any of your chat history. If you sign into your WeChat account from a new phone or mobile device, your contacts are there but your chats aren’t. Here’s how to temporarily save your chat history to the WeChat servers. Once you do that, you can restore the saved history to your new phone.

1. Head to Settings on your Me menu:

Photo of WeChat Chat History Backup
Head to your WeChat account and click Me in the lower right hand corner. Click Settings when you see this.

2. Look for the word Chat in your Settings and press it:

Photo of WeChat Chat History   2
To backup your chats, press Chat.

3. Under Chat History, we’re going to Backup/Restore Chat History. Backup first from this device then Restore on your new device.

Photo of WeChat Chat History   3
Back up now, Restore later.

4. If you’ve got your new device all set up, click Backup. This whole process is temporary, right? Seven days is the limit.

Photo of WeChat Chat History   4
Make sure you’re on WiFi and your battery is full then press Backup.

5. Once you’ve backed up your chats, sign into your account on your new device and go through the same steps shown here, except choose Restore instead of Backup. Depending on how large your chat record is, this whole thing could take some time. Make sure you’re on WiFi and that your battery is well charged or you’re plugged into a power outlet before you begin. If your phone dies in the middle of all of this or if you lose your connection, things will get screwed up. Prepare everything using your common sense and you’re all set.

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Things We’re Working On – Social media, apps, low-tech stuff

We’ve been quiet this summer, and we use the term summer very loosely. Our short break from several posts a week trickled down to a couple a month. That’s about to end. Here’s what you can expect from Computers Made Simple in the near future:

1. Reviews of a few new software products, one is a somewhat confusing app that syncs such things as your Facebook photo albums as well as some cloud storage sites. We’ve got strong reservations about recommending this one. Another is a VPN product that we just haven’t had time to experiment with.

2. Lots of social networking reviews and updates. We’re heavily involved in some of the more popular apps such as Instagram as well as some fun new apps that few people know about. Feedly is one of those, we can tell you know. We’re also revisiting some of the older S/N (social networking) sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest. Stay tuned for updates and news/reviews on these and others.

3. In the last few months we’ve been trying out some cool mobile apps too. (Yes, Instagram is a mobile app but you can access parts of it from your computer.) The ones we mean in this area are things such as Facefeed and Snapchat, etc. We’ll jot down some short notes on those two farther down the page today.

4. More how-to/do-it-yourself posts on networking, computers, gaming hardware, etc. Sometimes the mass of wires in our entertainment room drives us crazy even though we know that they all do, mainly because we put them there. It’s still a ball of confusion and we’re going to try to straighten it all out for you.

5. Reader suggestions. Alright, we don’t have any yet but our readers are loyal, dedicated and VERY smart. We’ll get suggestions, hopefully, and we’ll write about them, solve them, answer them…well, you get the idea.

For now, here are some comments about Facefeed and Snapchat.

Facefeed: We’ve already written about this app. Read our post here: Facefeed  This simple and fun mobile offering has the potential to take over the world, we think, but it keeps getting mired in the silliness of spontaneity. Once wrong swipe on your screen and you’ve lost someone who looked interesting. Talk about ships passing in the night! We’ve written to the creator, tweeted him, bugged him on Facefeed itself but he doesn’t seem to want to change the way people interact on his creation. It’s still fun, don’t get us wrong, but many, many users are frustrated with it.

Snapchat: We don’t have a full grasp of this app’s potential but we’re working on it. Recently, let’s say in the last three months, Snapchat has moved from a frivolous adolescent time waster to a real, almost artistic time waster. Besides text and photos or videos, users can draw on their screens. While that sounds pretty simple, you should see the kind of art that comes out of it. That change alone has made Snapchat a very entertaining bit of fluff. Try it, tell us your experiences. We’ll share them here.

Photo of cyreneq from Snapchat
Art from the very popular cyreneq. This Snapchat user draws amazing pics. Check her out.

Of the two products mentioned above, Facefeed has the most potential, we think. Why? Simply because you can meet 100s of new people a day if you have the time to spend. We loved WeChat for its promise in that area, specially with its Shake and People Nearby features. Facefeed is a much easier way to interact with strangers. It’s also completely safe. You choose who you want to say hi to and a simple swipe gets rid of the obnoxious idiots who sometimes troll the Internet.

Finally, just so you don’t get stressed out, we’ll continue our posts about Facebook. We’ve covered this prime social networking site for a few years but we’re still noticing things that need explaining. All in all, stay tuned for our posts and updates. As always, check out our Facebook page. Like it and you’ll be the first to hear our news. Here is the link:  Computers Made Simple on Facebook

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WeChat vs. WhatsApp

We’ve been shouting about WeChat for quite a while. In fact, one of our posts on it is the most popular piece we’ve ever done. WhatsApp has been around a bit longer and claims more users than WeChat but the figures don’t include the hundreds of millions of users  in China. We think that in a worldwide comparison, WeChat would have more users. As more people leave Facebook, it seems they are turning to other social networking apps to keep in touch with friends and to meet new people. Today we’ll take a look at these two, relatively new instant messaging tools.

Photo of WeChat Instant Messaging
WeChat is still our favorite IM app.

Who’s Got Your Number?

Only WhatsApp asks for your mobile number so we’ll start with a warning. Do you really want instant messages from anyone on your phone’s contact list? We don’t. That condition alone would keep most people from choosing WhatsApp over WeChat. The only time WeChat gets your number is when you give it to them in order to link your mobile contacts with it. It is not a mandatory part of the signup process. Ten points for WeChat.

Which App Helps You Find New Friends? 

Only WeChat lets you search for new friends and it does it in a very unique and fun way. Shake your device and you instantly find others users who are doing the same thing. Why is this important? None of the other instant messaging apps allow for this kind of reaching out to users who are searching for friends. WhatsApp relies on your current contacts, blindly assuming that those contacts are the only people you are interested in messaging. Clearly, judging from the huge success that WeChat has found with its Shake and People Nearby features, this isn’t the case. The beauty of WeChat’s Shake is that both parties are shaking at the same time, essentially telling each other that they are open to new contacts. There is no misinterpretation and no privacy issues with Shake. You only use it when you have time and the inclination to search the world for potential contacts.

Free? We Love Free!

WeChat wins here because it is free, totally free. WhatsApp is only free for the first year, after which it costs a whopping $0.99. OK, so ninety-nine cents isn’t anywhere near whopping but you get the point. We’re not sure how WeChat makes any income from their app but the fact that it is still free after several years of being available, they must be getting income from somewhere. There is word of Tencent selling accounts to retail and commercial clients, so far we’ve only seen that as an opt-in choice. This means that you can choose to follow a retail chain, let’s say American Apparel, and get their directed messages but that’s it. Nothing that you didn’t already ask for comes your way. More points for WeChat.

Photo of WhatsApp Instant Messaging
WhatsApp is popular only because people don’t know about WeChat, right?







Privacy. Who’s On and When Did You Last Show Up? 

With WeChat, no one knows if you are online or sleeping or in the middle of a meeting. Your contacts can send messages and you might, or might not, respond immediately. With WhatsApp, users are shown as offline, online or ‘last seen at’. Add this to the problem we mentioned before, that of receiving instant messages from anyone on your contact list who uses WhatsApp, and we think WeChat wins again. WeChat asks you first if it’s OK to receive a message from a stranger.

We think you get the idea by now. WeChat is a free, full-featured instant messaging app that protects your privacy but let’s you have fun, too. As far as features go, WeChat wins hands down. You can send any kind of message you can think of: video, text, voice, photos, links to web pages…instantly. WhatsApp has recently added Group Chat and some other features but WeChat has had these for a lot longer. Which apps do you use? Let us know what you think is best and why. Make a comment below or, better yet,  Like us on our Facebook page and comment there. Here is the link:  Computers Made Simple on Facebook  We’ll be glad you did.

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WeChat Shake Problem – a solution? Maybe.

There is a problem with the WeChat Shake application that we’ve written about in the past. It seems that the company responsible for WeChat, Tencent International, might have set up a temporary ban for users who use the Shake feature too frequently in one session. One of our readers noticed that he was able to get normal results, as opposed to purely Chinese results in Shake, if he simply stopped shaking for about half an hour.

To us, this makes perfect sense. Although the Shake feature is fun and quite exciting to use by times, we assume that it creates quite a drain on the WeChat servers. For this reason, we think that Tencent/Weixin/WeChat have created a shake limit for users who abuse this service.

This may be because of a drain on their servers or it could be an attempt to cut out or eliminate spammers from using the Shake feature to promote their products. Keep in mind that millions upon millions of Asian users use Weixin/WeChat, not just users in North America, Europe and Africa. India, for instance, seems to have taken to this app in a big way. When a company realizes the marketing potential available through WeChat, we think they would leap at the chance to contact users one to one, perhaps to the point of paying people to shake and then send out spam messages to users. We can imagine a scenario where a roomful of low-paid ‘shakers’ send out endless spam messages one by one. Knowing this, you can understand why we think WeChat has imposed a limit on the number of shakes per minute/hour/day for users. It’s a guess, but an educated one.

How popular is WeChat? This graphic gives you an idea:

Photo of WeChat Graphic
300 million users of which 50 million use WeChat* (as opposed to Weixin*).


(* WeChat is the English version, Weixin is the Chinese language version. )

That’s an incredible growth rate, isn’t it? As far as we know, the two sides of the app work in conjunction with each other. We have contacts who use Weixin and some who use WeChat. We can’t identify which app these contacts use so we assume that WeChat/Weixin is one big happy family.

Our advice? Keep shaking but don’t take things too seriously. If you’re looking for a date, sign up for an online service that concentrates on just that. If you’re looking for friends from all over the world, use WeChat’s Shake and relax. It’s free and works well. If you get odd results, take a break. Above all, don’t install any helper apps. You don’t need them and they may skew your search results. Happy shaking!
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