Nokia PC Suite Content Copier .nfb / .nbu Fiasco

This is going to be a long rant about the new Nokia PC Suite Content Copier backup file format and how its software is NOT compatible with previous versions and there is no mentioning anywhere from Nokia (other than the fact they changed the backup file format stated in their help).

My wife recently upgraded from her Nokia 6230 to a brand new Nokia E61. She really liked the personal information management (PIM) features and that it had a full QWERTY keyboard.

Before switching to the new phone, she backed up the old phone’s content using the Nokia PC Suite Content Copier and it created a .nfb file which seems to contain all of the information.

After she got the new E61, she wanted to restore the data (mainly the Contacts with their phones and all) to the new phone, so she fired up the PC Suite only to find out that she needed to upgrade to a newer version (v6.82.22).

We upgraded, run Content Copier again and wanted to restore the files and then all hell broke lose…

The Content Copier pointed to another folder, not the one that her previous version used to store the backups (which was in My Documnets\My Backups folder). No biggie, so we searched for the term “nokia” around the machine and found the place where it kept the backup file (the one with the .nfb extension).

I pointed the Content Copier to that folder (that’s the only thing you can do) and it didn’t recognize it.

A little Google-ing and a little RTFM and apparently in the latest version of PC Suite, Nokia switched the format of the backup file to .nbu. Previous versions used two files, one with a .nfb extension and one with the .nfc extension. The new versions use one file with the extension of .nbu and according to their help (the one provided with the Content Copier) it contains both of the data of the .nfb and .nfc files.

They did not provide any help or way of figuring out how to restore an old backup in any way or form and it wasn’t even available after a lot of searching around the web.

There are a few pointers on the web in the Nokia forums for others with the same problem (you can searched with other terms and get lots more).

Luckily I’ve stumbled upon this program which can export all of the data from the .nfb files into plain text (and also extract the images and videos backed up in the .nfb file). There are also a Perl module and a Python library that can read and write .nfb files.

The best way to overcome the problem was to import the contacts which I now had in plain text into Outlook and sync Outlook back to the phone.

You can import CSV and tab delimited files into Outlook, but since my wife used the phone’s memory, it meant that we now had multiple numbers like cell phone number and home number assigned to the same contact (at least in some of them) and Outlook (and Excel for that matter) had problems figuring out how to map things.

So, I’ve cooked up this little Python script which converted the PHONEBOOK file (the one that contains the contact entries) into a CSV file. I probably messed a few of the fields there (and I’ll post some info on the PHONEBOOK file format later) but it worked.

We edited the entries in Outlook, synced the phone and finally had most of the data. My most you ask? because even though my wife specifically asked to also backup the SIM card, it did not do that and we lost a couple of contacts. Luckily the majority was in our hands.

I’m a VERY long time Nokia user and I think (most) of their phones are REALLY great but this is simply negligence. There is no other word I can think of at this moment to describe this situation.

So you’ve upgraded your software, great. But there is NO reason for you NOT to read your old backup files. You can generate the new ones but people, have you heard about backwards compatibility? Nokia is usually well knowned for their backward compatibility in user interface and other areas, but apparently someone screwed up big time with the newer version of PC Suite.

Why not read the old backup files? Why not say that I need to do this and that to convert them? Why not supply and program to convert them? This is not how things are done. Even Microsoft allowes you to open Office documents that were written in previous versions of Office. Come on, that’s one of the basic things you do!

What will other less technically savvy people would do? Start to re-generate their contact list?

Even if Nokia does have a way of doing it and they haven’t made it VERY clear for NORMAL users (I’m not included as a normal user, of course) how to find such a program (or guidelines) and use them its really really bad.

These are the sort of things that makes people switch to another cellular phone vendor.

I do hope someone from Nokia is reading this and will take care of these issues for the next version of PC Suite. It will also be nice to make sure that when someone sells you a brand new Nokia cell phone the customer is aware of what needs to be done to restore everything back to the new phone.

39 thoughts on “Nokia PC Suite Content Copier .nfb / .nbu Fiasco”

  1. I agree that Nokia has messed up big time with PC suite for E61. For some reason I am unable to back up my contacts (over 2000 !!) to PC Suite, although it does everything else. Hours searching Internet only revealed I have to upgrade the version, which resulted in worse problems. mails to their support page have had no effect, so does posting on their forums. I have been a long-time Nokia user & am saddened to see this. Hope someone from Nokia reads this!!

  2. Gday Everybody i have the same problem i cannot find my back-up files bloody .nbu file its here somewhere but i cant find it.

  3. Domenic, have you tried searching for all files ending with .nbu or .nfb?

    It seems that most PC Suite installations will create these backups around your “My Documents” folder so I suggest you try searching in there.

  4. aaaaaaaaaaahhh, my nokia 8140 got stolen, replaced it with the 5500. did lucky do a backup on CD earlier, however, now have this .nfb file on CD and dont have a clue as to WHAT to do??? how can i get the contacts??? even if its on a word list or sth … i’l TOTALLY LOST :o(
    can anyone help??? THANX!

  5. Dear All,

    I am facing similar problem!!!

    I was too stupid not doing backup before repairing my N80. The latest backup was generated by a old version (I forget which one) on Jan, 07.
    I was shocked PC suites version 6.83 can’t restore anything back to the phone. Then, I went to Nokia Customer Centre and asked for help.
    After waiting around 15 minutes, I was informed that the backup CONTAINS NOTHING!!!. My god!!! I could use UltraEdit, at least, recongizing
    the phone book. (….@#W**&*$#&*&*#$&.. sorry, parential guide is recommeded!!! )

    It seems that this is not a simple phone to phone compatibilty problem but fundamential compatibilty issue.

    You are right!!! “These are the sort of things that makes people switch to another cellular phone vendor”. Mobile become our second brain that
    storing various range of stuffs such as text, phone book, pics…

  6. I ran into this problem with Nokia’s PC Suite before and fortunately the same thing that worked last time worked this time (I upgraded from 6.5 to 6.84). All I did was change the file extension from .nfb to .nfc and sure enough PC Suite saw the old file, began importing, automatically changed the name to .nbu and ‘backed up’ my old file to .nfc.old. As soon as this worked I browsed the phone deleted all the unwanted junk and did a virgin backup in native .nbu format. Hope this helps someone in the future:).

  7. Domenic if you still can’t find your .nfb folder click on the tools button and go to folder options. Click on the view tab and select: show hidden files and folders. Then go to My Computer, Hard Drive, Documents and Settings, pc user(or whoever you’re logged on as) and there should be an Application Data folder. Go down and open the Nokia folder inside and your files will be in the Content Copier sub-folder.

  8. Hi Eran

    Thanks for your useful post. With the help of the nfbdecode program and your Python script I managed to retrieve all my numbers. I modified your script into a Java program which creates vCard files which can be easily imported back to the phone. You are welcome to have the source if it might be useful for someone else. Thanks again.

  9. thnx a million whoever posted this. using the nfbdecode.exe i was able to get all the files from my nokia 8801 backup file…..

  10. Thanks for investigations, Eran!
    I’ve a similar problem now
    I guess now:
    What about installing an old pc suite on other PC? Than You (&me) can restore all data?

  11. mittyright, I guess it is possible to install the older version, if you have it, but it might not work on the newer phone.
    In any case, if you can get the old software you can restore and backup most of the data to an open format such as CSV (I vaguely remember older PC Suites have the ability to save or export in other formats).

  12. yes, You’re right, Eran!
    I upgraded PC suite in hope of new functionality. I’ve Nokia 3230 yet…
    I’ve installed an old version PCS on other PC and all data have been restored!
    Now i can backup in new PC suite to be able to restore in future

    A have a problem in deinstalling a newer version of PC Suite and reinstalling an old version because any drivers persist in system
    Very helpful is Nokia PC Suite Cleaner

    “These are the sort of things that makes people switch to another cellular phone vendor” ))))

    That means Nokia’s programmers create a not properly deinstalling program….

  13. I love nokia mobiles but I hate Nokia software. I can’t read my messages in .nbu backup files on the PC. I can’t extract them in txt files. Hell. There are softwares like Abc NBU Extracter but it doesn’t show them in right form ie. which messages belongs to which folder and the name of the sender and difference between sent and recieved messages. As well as Noki also doesn’t show the full content. I hate it. Can some one mention a perfect program to extract and see the sma and backed up conent in nbu files. Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaseeeeeeee. I promise to study in Kingergarten again if anyone can help. Heheh.

  14. What a relief to find I was not alone trying to struggle with this incredibly stupid software.
    In my case I have backup files of my contact exported both as txt and as nbu from my previous phone, an E65. But any effort to import them into my new E66 using the Nokia PC Suite ( is as much a waste of time as it has always been. Over a picture of the phone a message says “You can drag and drop content here…” so I tried that. But instead of the contents, I now have the useless nbu file itself copied into the phone memory somewhere.
    Also tried double-clicking the nbu-file on disk. It’s half a meg but Nokia says “This file does not contain any data to be inported. Select another”, though it adds that “the imported data is not necessarily an exact copy of the original phone contents”.
    And in the line of this gibberish, installing the software causes all my Java jar files to be recategorized as Nokia PC Suite installers, and despite the seemingly elaborate functionality you may no use it to edit your contacts etc. It’s so silly one has to wonder how this company can produce such elegant mobile phones.

  15. @Mohan: Android changes the game, but not for the better!

    You can only import csv files into Gmail to get contacts into Android. Gmail csv headings are a bit different to the ones output by Nokia PC Suite, but changing that isn’t difficult in Notepad or Excel. The annoying thing is that if you have MULTIPLE general phone numbers, mobile numbers, or notes etc. per contact on a 6230 (for example), PC Suite will only output the FIRST one of each type! So you lose data.

    If you export from PC Suite as a vCard (.vcf) then you don’t lose anything as in that case it does manage to include ALL the data in each contact’s vCard. The problem then, however, is that neither Android nor Gmail support vCards!!!!!!!

    There are a few programmes around which can import a few of the fields from the vCard, but nothing which can reliably import EVERYTHING from a SIMPLE vCard (not even talking about one which includes pictures here) into Android without losing data.

    Rubbish, it is. Nokia need to fix the PC Suite csv export and Google need to sort out their vCard imports: can no programmers do a half-decent job without getting bored and giving up half way through? Is Facebook really that much of a distraction for them?!…

  16. Help !!!
    I was backup my data using PC Suite ver.6, backup file in *.nfc format. Present something wrong with my N-70 then I upgrade firmware from ver.3 to ver.5. While I tried to restore all data into N-70 using PC Suite ver.7, its can’t recognize *.nfc format ..

    Please share NFC converter to NBU format … I need restore contact of my client

  17. I finally found those .nbu files. Many thanks to James for great help. I also used Noki. Works like a charm. Cheers!

  18. Where can I get an older version of PC suite without having to join some virus-infected download site? I’ve ranted about how great Nokia phones are for years but this is beyond negligence.

  19. Nokisoft is the best for viewing .nbu files.

    It’s so straight forward… it’s like an arrow.

    1 – Install and run Noki
    2 – Open an .nbu file from Noki
    3 – Browse your files

  20. @rizqi,

    There’s no direct converter from .nfc to .nbu – formats are too different (.nfc is pre pc suite 6.5 & .nbu is post 6.8). You can extract the .nfc using Noki and import the contacts into the phone via PC Suite. Then you can generate a new .nbu from the phone.

  21. Hi,
    I have a similar problem but with a .nbu file that the newest version of the software does not recognize. I tried the opener here and it doesn’t work. Does anyone know of a program that is similar but will rip apart .nbu files?

  22. I tried the Noki but am not ready to spend that amount on retrieving my contacts. It does give me 50 of them-
    Anyone know of a program that is fully functional and free for the .nbu files?

    Nokia really messed this up. I could not see having this type of software available for backing up a computer. Once you do an upgrade- you loose the ability to restore from previous versions- NOT. Nokia best fix this up or the next phone will not be theirs.

  23. I first tried Noki but it only gave me 30 contacts which i thought was unacceptable. I decided to try the nfbdecode program. the instructions on the website phased me a bit, but i forged forward and achieved sucess. one bit of advise it my be easier, especially for lazy people like me to copy the executable and the file to be converted to a folder on the c drive so that the typing is less. renaming the file to a shorter name may make the typing even shorter. Thanks Eran what you have done is more than etc.

  24. Thanks all for your comments, I am also facing simillar problem and can not synchornise Nokia 6230i contents to my new purchased cell Nokia E71, now I have both cells and it is difficult to copy individual contents.
    If any body have any clue just let me Know!!

  25. I previously use Nokia E63. I did a final backup via Nokia PCsuite and saved it on my windows computer .

    Unfortunately, I sold my E63 before purchasing the Samsung WaveII s8530. So the file is there, but not the device. Is there any possibility that I can still import those backup file to my Samsung WaveII s8530?

    BackUp file includes:
    – Contacts
    – Calendar
    – Active Notes
    – Media (Pictures, Video, Songs)
    – Messages (SMS & MMS)

    Please help, desperately need the contact, calendar and notes.

    Kapil Waghmare

  26. I previously use Nokia E63. I did a final backup via Nokia PCsuite and saved it on my windows Laptop .

    Unfortunately, I sold my E63 before purchasing the Samsung WaveII s8530. So the file is there, but not the device. Is there any possibility that I can still import those backup file to my Samsung WaveII s8530?

    BackUp file includes:
    – Contacts
    – Calendar
    – Active Notes
    – Media (Pictures, Video, Songs)
    – Messages (SMS & MMS)

    Please help, desperately need the contact, calendar and notes.

    Kapil Waghmare

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