First of all, let me vent and say that Apple products always have the most bizarre issues. I don't say this because of my own personal experience, as I have never owned any Apple product, but encountered others whose Apple device had gone kaput for some "unknowable" reason. I blame this on Apple's secrecy and anti-open source mentality where the secrets of the magic box must be kept at all costs.
My mother on the other hand, despite my repeated warning not to purchase iPad 2 when it initially came out, bought one, and apparently, after 3 months, chickens have come home to roost. She has been utilizing the default Contacts app to keep information about her clients -- lots of them, over 800+. Everything was dandy until today when all of a sudden, the entire contact list disappeared for no reason!!! She had a lot of information, about each client, not just a simple data, and although the majority of information still available on a hard copy paper, a lot of the new clients' info were only inputted into the iPad; and apparently, it's all gone now, forever. No other app has been affected on the iPad, by the way.
I contact Apple tech support over the phone and right off the bat, he feigned ignorance that he has never heard of this issue, even though there are many other users with a similar problem (unfortunately, since I have not reached certain number of posts, I cannot provide a Google link, just do "ipad 2 contacts disappeared") and absolutely NO solution has ever been offered. Then I take it to the Apple store; why on earth Apple paying 22 (as I counted) incompetent dullards just to run around the store, socializing with each other, absolutely clogging the entire space without contributing a darned thing! This was just utterly baffling to me. Sorry, this was my very first time ever going to an Apple store, and hopefully my last. It just simply doesn't make any sense to cramp 22 blue-shirted nimrods under an open store, mostly just chit chatting about who knows what.
I talked to at least 3 guys (they kept tossing me around) and none had EVER heard of such problem. Oh, please! What are you guys getting paid for then? I was being thrown around like a used towel with no help in the horizon. I'm trying to explain to them how is it possible a default app actually wiping out its entire stored data, totally out of the blue, without a sign of the actual flash drive being totally corrupted! I asked whether in ANY way I can get the information back for my mother, everybody just stood there like a log, not knowing what to say other than "tough luck."
So, here I am, trying to figure out how I can set up a scheme for the contact information to be backed up on the fly, like a write through process where any new data is immediately stored somewhere else. From what I gathered, there used to be MobileMe then iDrive which no longer is in use and Apple is going to roll out iCloud some time in the future, so the users can backup (or maybe load programs) on the fly.
Meanwhile, I stumbled upon an apparent quick solution: syncing contact information to Gmail Contact. I set up an Exchange in Setting's Mail, Calender, Contact (I selected 'fetch'), and it seems to be doing its job, as long as I make sure the "Contacts" Groups of Exchange is selected in iPad.
I also noticed when I delete a contact on my iPad, it is removed from Gmail's My Contacts and placed under "Other Contacts" if it has not been labeled under any other custom group (in Gmail). So all the contacts deleted, removed from the iPad will persist in Gmail's contact groups, whether it is a custom group or Other Contacts group.
Here's a strange thing. I just created 10 entirely random accounts in iPad and watched them synced on Gmail's. When I highlight some of these newly added contacts, I see randomly they got photo avatars assigned to them from my mother's old client's photo (not in the Photos as I checked) which tells me the information might still be stored somewhere on the flash drive/hard drive. Does anyone suggest I do a jailbreak?