Garmin Connect is a great system of storing your GPS data, and being stored on the internet you can rest assured that Garmin would maintain a high standard of redundancy in the event of a data server failure.
But, do you really want to lock yourself into using Garmin Connect? If in a few years time a new service opens for business that performs better data analysis, you may wish to switch. Garmin Connect won’t implement the ability to bulk export data in a universal format to other providers because they want to lock you in. Logically it’d be part of their business strategy to do so.
I’ve previously posted a method that allows you to bulk export data from Garmin Connect, because as it is, Garmin only allow you to export one data file at a time. As someone that has 2 to 3 data file per day (2 commutes, and a training ride), it was a massive pain to have to export all my Garmin Connect data when I wanted to upload old data to Strava.
Up until recently, I’ve always used Garmin Forerunner devices which used the Garmin Ant Agent to wirelessly transfer the .FIT files from the device to my computer, and then from the computer to Garmin Connect. I notice now using the Garmin Edge device, with the USB connection to the computer, Garmin Connect skips the step of copying to the computer first the Ant Agent did, and uploads directly to Garmin Connect. Likewise if uploading using the smartphone connection ‘instant upload’ instead of USB to your computer. The result being that with Garmin Edge devices, the raw data is only stored on your device. (Note that the data is on Garmin Connect, but is converted from the raw .FIT format to the .TCX format, and not all software on the market will ever necessarily flawlessly support TCX files, if at all – why would they?) When (if) your Edge device becomes full, it will delete old data automatically in order to accommodate new data. You *could* store the activity files on the SD Card, but current Garmin Connect has a bug which doesn’t allow uploading activities from Garmin Connect (presumably this will be resolved shortly). It’s also possible your Edge device may break, or get stolen. My point being, your .FIT files are at risk of being lost forever! Oh no!
Fear not, there is a simple solution to automate the process of backing up your .FIT files from Garmin Edge devices if you’re prepared to plug the USB into your computer every so often. Follow this procedure to set it up on your computer that I’ve prove to work with my Edge 810 on a Windows 8 machine:
- Connect your Edge to your computer via the USB
- Note the drive and folder that your activity .FIT files are stored in (be careful not to mix up the drive of the internal storage with the drive of the SD Card, if you’re using one).
- Create a folder on your computer that you wish to store your data files in. I like to keep data from my previous Garmin devices separated, because each device has different quirks, so I used an additional sub folder. (I also used a variation of this process to copy .FIT files from my old Forerunner 310XT and 910XT directories which were located in an illogical hidden directory for data backup purposes (refer note at end).
- Open up a text editor, i.e. Notepad, and copy the following two lines of text:
xcopy "I:\Garmin\Activities\*.*" "E:\Garmin Data\810 Activities\" /D /E /V /F /Y
The first directory is where my .FIT files are stored, and the second directory is where I’m copying them to. To learn about what the ‘switches’ mean after the destination file path, go to the command prompt by holding the Windows Start button and pressing ‘r’ at the same time. Then type cmd, and hit enter. This will bring up the command prompt. Then type ‘xcopy /?’ to bring up an explanation of all the available switches. You can adjust them to suit yourself if you’re comfortable with what you’re doing. The second line of text, ‘pause’, just keeps the window open so that you can see what files have actually been copied across, and you can check whether the script it working or not. Once you’ve verified it’s all working, you could simply remove the pause command if it annoys you after a while.
- In Notepad, go to ‘Save As’, and in the drop-down menu of the file type, change it to ‘All Files’ instead of ‘*.TXT’ files. Then when you save the file, save it as whatever you’d like your batch file to be called, with the filename extension of .BAT. For example, I saved my file as:
E:\Garmin Data\810 Activities\810 backup script.BAT
- Then any time you have your device plugged in and double click this BAT file, it’ll copy over your data. Run it now to check.
- Having checked it works, you may wish to create a shortcut to this BAT file to your desktop to remind you to do it.
- You can also assign a shortcut key combination, such as Ctrl+Shift+G to make this easier to do every time you plug in your device. To do this, right click on the shortcut, go to properties, and in the ‘Shortcut key’ field, press your combination of keys to assign, and click Apply. You can also change the icon to something a little more attention seeking to help it stand out on your desktop and remind you to do it every so often.
- Optionally, you should have your ‘Garmin Data’ directory on your computer backed up to cloud storage, in case your hard drive fails and you no longer have your Garmin device. This has happened to me so I know the pain of having run multiple marathons and then not having the GPS data to prove your times to the world.
That’s it, you’re done! It might be a good idea to check that it’s all working from time to time, and please let me know if you run into any problems or have a better suggestion. Thanks!