Trying to back up an Android phone used to be such a hassle. Only a few years ago, Android device users needed USB cables, complicated software, and technical know-how to store their data safely.
As technology has advanced, however, things have gotten better. Nowadays, Android users can back up their devices and sync their data with minimal effort. Most of the backup work happens behind the scenes, automatically and seamlessly. Some phone-makers set devices to backup automatically, while some ask users for a one-time opt-in when they set up their phones. Moving your data from one Android device to another is simple when signing in to your Google account does the job for you.
So, how do you protect the wealth of data on your device and keep track of everything? Keep reading for a section-by-section explanation on how to backup your Android device.
The first step to setting up your Android phone is signing in with your main Google account. Your Google account is where all your data is backed up. Google automatically backs up your phone's settings and preferences on the system level. These include approved Wi-Fi networks, passwords, preferred language, date and time settings, input settings, and display choices.
If you want to ensure that your phone saves your system preferences, go to your phone's Settings section. Then, tap System > Advanced > Backup. If you use a Samsung phone, you'll need to tap the Accounts and Backup section instead and tap Backup and Restore > Google Account.
When you enter the Backup page, you should see the option "Back up to Google Drive" (for Samsung phones, this would be "Back up my data") at the top of the screen. Below it, you’ll see your Google account, which you use for your system backups.
To restore your backup to another device, sign in with the same Google account as on the former device, and the new device will take on your saved settings. If you want to send your backups to a different Google account, you can switch to the account tab, which shows the Google accounts you have connected to your phone. There, you can choose the account to send backups.
You can also see a breakdown of the types of data the phone is storing under your account and the last backup date. To look at them, tap your phone's name (for a Samsung device, tap the line labeled "Google account").
Another way to see a backup breakdown on your Google account is to sign in to Google Drive on the Web and open the backups section to display how much space backups take on any device linked to your account.
Note that Samsung allows users to back up their data using its service alongside the standard Android backup service. While you may choose to use Samsung's backup for additional safety, ensure that you use the traditional Android backup to your Google Account just in case you switch to a different brand. Samsung's backup service is only helpful among other Samsung devices. A Google backup is valid on any Android device you use in the future.
If you've used an Android device in the past, Google automatically stores a list of the apps you install from the Play Store.
If you change phones and sign into another Android device, you'll have the option to re-download the entire list of apps or pick from the list. Before this option became available, users had to do the traditional restoration by connecting their old phone to their new phone via USB or file-sharing apps.
If you have backups stored on more than one Android device, you'll need to decide which device to use as the app source. Google also provides a comprehensive backup system that lets you save and restore app-related data. In addition, you can store sign-in passwords, preferences, and other elements specifically relevant to your apps.
If you use your phone for business, the data in your calendar, contacts, and email accounts are critical. Thankfully, backing them up is easy, as most of the data these apps use are cloud-based. Thus, you don't have to worry about backing up your device's calendar or email data - it's already in the cloud. If you want to retrieve it, open your email or contacts on another device.
As an Android user, your standard email and calendar apps are Gmail and Google Calendar. Both apps come pre-installed on most Android devices and are freely available for download. These apps automatically store data on Google's servers and connect to other third-party servers like Microsoft Exchange. If you prefer to use a different email service, you can sign in and add it directly into the Gmail app.
Backing up your contacts is a little complicated as some phone manufacturers (and some carriers) create Contact Apps with varying interfaces. Sometimes, those interfaces do not automatically sync with Google's, which is not ideal.
For instance, if the Contacts app on your Android device is Verizon-designed instead of the stock Google app, restoring your contacts to a non-Verizon device will be difficult. Similarly, if you store your contact data on your phone's local storage or your SIM card, you won't be able to move it to a different phone.
There is no way to access lost phone numbers if you’ve failed to back up your phone contacts. To ensure your contacts are backing up correctly, open up your app and check its settings for any options regarding syncing or storage location. Of course, different device makers will have their setups. However, if a device maker creates a sync system alternative to Google's, it'll give you the option to use Google's Contacts if you prefer.
Depending on the phone maker, you may need to choose where to store a contact whenever you add a new one. For best results, ensure that you always elect to storing contact in Google Contacts to maintain consistency and accessibility.
If you wish to confirm that your contacts are backing up to Google Contacts, you can do it the same way you check your phone backups in your settings. You can also look at your contacts on the dedicated Google Contacts website and confirm the backup there.
On an Android device, the process of backing up and saving your text conversations for restoration on a future phone is relatively painless. However, the process involves multiple layers, and figuring out what is backed up can be challenging.
Once, there was no reliable way to backup SMS data on Android devices. Now, every Android device automatically backs up SMS data to Google's servers. Furthermore, this backup applies to all Android devices, regardless of the messaging app it uses.
SMS backups, however, are limited to 25MB of data and exclude MMS messages - text messages with photos and videos attached. So if you want to be able to back up your multimedia messages, you'll need to pay for a Google One plan.
Google One plan prices begin at $2 per month and give you extra storage for all Google's apps. Once you have an active plan, you can download and install the Google One app on your phone. Once you have installed the app, you can open it and look for the Device Backup section to activate the option.
You'll need to download the Google One app on every new phone you use in the future. This requirement will also apply to your current phone if you ever perform a factory reset.
According to Google, the best way to make sure your MMS backups work is to use the native Messages App. However, Google also says that if you send multimedia messages using the new chat-like RCS standard, your messages may or may not get backed up. This problem only applies to specific phones and carriers.
If you don't want to pay for Google One or use the native messaging app, other third-party options have cloud storage. For example, the Pulse SMS app is a popular and free alternative. This messaging app provides an automatic backup and sync system that is universally available.
Pulse SMS also allows you to customize your user interface and lets you use multiple devices to send, receive, and manage messages in real-time. Pulse SMS is available on phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. Pulse SMS' basic phone app is available for free. However, you'll need to pay a one-time $11 upgrade fee if you want to use its multi-device messaging capability.
Options like SyncTech's free SMS Backup & Restore exist for users that just need a third-party tool to back up their SMS'. Although apps like these allow you to back up and restore your SMS data manually, apps that can handle those tasks in real-time are more straightforward and more effective to use.
A straightforward way to backup your phone's files is to save a copy on your personal computer. Connect your phone to your computer using a USB cable and enable File Storage use on your phone. Then, look for the files you wish to back up, and save copies onto a folder on your computer. You can back up your computer's files to the cloud for added security.
If this process of using cables and backing up backups seems stressful, or you’re out of space, you can back up your phone's files directly to the cloud. For Android users, Google Drive is the native choice for file backups. However, other third-party options like Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive exist. And if you’re worried about privacy, consider encrypted cloud storage options.
You'll get a reasonable amount of free storage from any of those service providers, and their monthly fees start from about $2 per month. With a subscription to any of these third-party services, you'll be able to store your files on the cloud and access them whenever you're online.
The main downside of cloud backup is moving files from your phone to specific folders on the cloud. If you'd like to automate that process, you can download and install Autosync. This app is compatible with Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box.
With Autosync, you can automatically sync your phone's folders up with matching folders in the cloud. More importantly, it only requires one setup on your device. If you only need to sync files smaller than 10MB into one folder, you can use AutoSync for free. If, however, you don't want any usage restrictions (or annoying in-app adverts), you can pay the one-time $5 upgrade fee.
If you have a smartphone, you're probably going to want to take a few pictures and store some soul-soothing music to listen to from time to time. If you've taken a lot of photos over time, losing those memories can be painful.
Thankfully, at this point, it's pretty simple for anyone to back up the music and photos on their phones. If you use Google's Photos App for your pictures, it will automatically back up every image and video you shoot to the cloud. When you sign in to your Google account on any other device, those photos and videos will be available.
You can use the Google Play Music app for free to backup your music. The app allows you to upload up to 50,000 songs and access them from any Android phone or computer browser. Of course, another alternative is to use music streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music.
Once upon a time, backing up your Android phone was a serious hassle. However, with advances in cloud technology, setting up backups is easier than ever. You can automatically back up your general settings and preferences, apps and app data, calendar, and contacts to your Google account or use other service providers.