Backing up may not be as important as it once was, but it certainly is still important, especially when it comes to smartphones.
What would you do if you woke up one morning to find that all of your pictures, videos, messages and contacts had gone completely due to a bug with your mobile?
Fear not! There is a vast range of apps available to you on Android for backup and restoration.
What is backing up?
Backing up is the process of making a digital copy of a file and storing it somewhere safe; be it physically on an SD card or virtually on an online server.
In non-techy terms, it is simply creating a copy so that you still have the file if one device fails.
Photos and Videos
Arguably the most important file type to backup, photos and videos taken with your smartphone’s camera can be easily saved to online services.
Apps such as Google Photos can be set to automatically save images and videos that you take to Google Drive, without using up any of your Drive storage (if you don’t mind a bit of compression).
Similarly you can simply use the “Share” function to upload images and videos from your gallery app of choice to a number of cloud storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
This is beneficial not only for backing up but also because it means that you can clear storage on your phone, which will greatly improve the overall performance of your device.
Music and Media
Music and media such as TV shows and films should all be saved to an online store in one form or another.
For example, buying an album, song, TV show, eBook or film off of Google Play will grant you unlimited downloads of that title for the lifetime of your account. As such, if you do happen to lose all of your music or other media files then they should just be a tap away from being redownloaded.
If you import music from your PC onto your phone then you should, too, have either the CD to re-rip if not the ripped mp3 files that your media player of choice created.
For mp3 downloads off of the internet from storefronts that grant you only one download, you can upload your songs to Google Play Music which can then be shared to the Play Music app on your phone. Alternatively you can use aforementioned cloud storage services like Dropbox.
If you use a service like Spotify for your music then, again, you can just redownload anything that you’ve lost.
Messages and Contacts
Android automatically backs up your contacts so, if you do switch phone, signing in to your Google account will restore all of your old address book without you having to do a thing. This includes their mobile numbers, contact photos, email addresses, work / home numbers; literally everything you have entered in.
Facebook does a similar thing to this if you’re using an Xperia device or otherwise have a phone that advertises deep Facebook integration. Either way, your contacts should be safe and sound regardless of what Android phone you come from and switch to.
Backing up messages and conversation threads with your contacts, however, is a little harder.
Google can’t legally keep backup files of your messages, so you have to take it on yourself to backup and restore. This is a feature that requires a little bit more effort and so should be considered for intermediate users only.
Download SMS Backup & Restore from the Play store (it’s free!). Open it up and accept the two license agreements that are displayed. Press “BACKUP” and select a directory or use the default one. You can give a name to the backup file or just leave it as it is (sms-*datetime*.xml). Make sure that you do not change the file extension (the .xml bit). Choose whether to include MMS messages and emojis or not and then press “Ok” and “Yes” on the box that pops up.
Wait for the process to complete. Depending on the presence of an SD card the .xml file that stores all of your messages will now either be on the card or on your phone’s internal memory. Either way it’d be a good idea to locate this file in a file browser such as FX and upload to a cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox. You can then restore at any time from the XML file using the same app.
Apps and Settings
If you use the Play store as your primary storefront (and, unless on a Kindle device, you probably do) then your apps and app settings are automatically backed up to your Google account.
If your phone does break or stop working then your new handset will be able to restore these apps along with their data with a single tap from within the Play Store. This includes account passwords and preferences to any app that utilises it.
Backing up your phone might seem a bit silly and a waste of time, but you never know when your phone might break or become unusable.
Even if you’re extremely careful your handset could still fail out at any time. Backing up is an important part of owning a device, and following this guide you should now be well versed in doing it.