How to Back Up Your Android Phone

So you dropped your phone on the street. Then he was crushed. Twice. And then you almost got hit by a Subaru trying to save it from the middle of the crosswalk.

If this sad story sounds familiar – or at least plausible – chances are the first thought that crosses your mind is that of all the contacts, photos, text messages, and notes stored on your device. What’s an Android aficionado to do in a case like this? As your mother once said, “Plan ahead.”

Planning ahead is the easiest way to make sure your data isn’t lost in the ether, even if your phone is destroyed. Fortunately, Google automatically syncs your contacts, calendar appointments, documents, and even app purchases, as long as you give it permission. While Google will keep a lot of your data, there are other methods you might consider using.

Read on to know how to backup your Android phone.

Use the cloud

Like Apple’s iOS and iPadOS, Google provides ways to automatically back up your Android device to the cloud. This setting is usually enabled, but you can check it by following these steps in stock Android 11 and Samsung phones:

Step 1: Swipe down from the top of the screen to expand the notification shade, and tap the cogwheel icon. This opens the Settings panel.

2nd step: Tap Google or System (Android stock only).

Step 3: Tap Backup.

Step 4: Press the button next to Save to Google Drive if this feature is not already enabled.

Here’s Google’s official list of what’s backed up in the cloud:

  • applications
  • Contacts
  • Date and time
  • Display settings (brightness and standby)
  • Gmail settings
  • Google Calendar events and settings
  • Language and input settings
  • Settings and data for apps not created by Google (varies by app)
  • SMS (not MMS)
  • Wallpapers
  • Wi-Fi networks and passwords

Keep in mind that your Google Account only offers 15GB of cloud storage for free. If you need more, especially if you’re backing up photos and videos, you’ll need a subscription.

As the list shows, photos, videos and files are not backed up using this tool. You will need the Google Drive or Google One app to upload files. You should also verify that automatic backups are turned on in Google Photos. Read on to find out how.

Use Google Photos

Step 1: Press to open the Google Photos app.

2nd step: Tap your Google Account icon in the top right corner.

Step 3: Tap Photo settings.

Step 4: Tap Save and synchronize.

Step 5: Press the button next to Save and synchronize if this feature is not already enabled.

Note: You can also access this toggle by using the Settings> Google> Backup route and pressing Google Photos option.

Select the data to synchronize

You can also potentially add a few more items to this list and configure precisely what you do and don’t want to be backed up. Here’s how:

Step 1: Swipe down from the top of the screen to expand the notification shade, and tap the cogwheel icon. This opens the Settings panel.

2nd step: Tap Accounts. On Samsung phones, tap Accounts and backup followed by Accounts.

Step 3: Press your Google account.

Step 4: Tap Account sync. On Samsung phones, tap Synchronization account.

Step 5: Press the To toggle next to each item you do that you don’t want to sync.

Note: The list varies depending on what you have on your phone.

Samsung account backup

On Samsung phones, you also have the option to back up to your Samsung account. Here’s how:

Step 1: Swipe down from the top of the screen to expand the notification shade, and tap the cogwheel icon. This opens the Settings panel.

2nd step: Tap Accounts and backup.

Step 3: Tap Backup and restore.

Step 4: Tap Save data.

Step 5: Press the Data you want to save, like messages and Settings, then press Save.

Transfer your photos to a PC

One major thing Android lacks is a native way to backup everything to PC. With an iPhone or an iPad, there are ways built into MacOS; iTunes software for Windows. There is no similar way for Android devices, not even in Chrome OS.

The easiest way to transfer your photos to Windows PC is to use the native Your Phone app. You can also use OneDrive to upload your photos to the cloud and sync that folder to your PC. Other methods include Bluetooth, physical USB connection, and other cloud services.

Read our separate guide on how to transfer your photos and videos to Windows 10, Mac, or Chromebook.

Transfer your files to a PC

Unfortunately, transferring files to Windows 10 isn’t that easy, as the native Your Phone app only transfers photos. Instead, your best bet is to use OneDrive and sync a folder to your Windows PC. Other options on all three platforms are to use a wired connection, Bluetooth, or a different cloud service.

Read our separate guide on how to transfer your files to Windows 10, Mac, or Chromebook.

Go with a third-party backup utility

We strongly recommend that you stick with Google for your backup needs, but there are alternatives you can use. Here are just a few:

My Pro Backup ($ 7)

My Backup Pro backs up almost everything in a single session without needing to root your phone: photos, app data, browser bookmarks, contacts, system settings, home screen shortcuts, alarms, calendars, SMS messages – you name it and it’s probably covered.

This app allows you to schedule backups at convenient times, such as when you sleep, and saves the backup files to your phone’s MicroSD card or to the cloud, making your data instantly accessible on the My Backup Pro site.

google play

G Cloud Backup (free)

G Cloud Backup lets you back up everything from contacts and photos to app data, videos, music, SMS and more. Everything is saved securely in the cloud, with a handy Memories feature to easily sort photos or messages on a specific date. There are even options to schedule backups.

You get 1GB of free storage, but you can earn more (up to 10GB) through the app, or purchase the upgrade if needed. If your phone dies or you get a new handset, you can restore or migrate data with just one click.

google play

SMS backup and restore (free)

Want to save every last drunken text message for posterity? SMS Backup & Restore integrates with your email account, Google Drive or Dropbox to back up your SMS messages in XML format. You can store backups on your computer and send them by email. You can view and restore your messages selectively, or all at once. You can also use the app to schedule regular backups.

google play

Titanium Backup (free)

Titanium reinforcement is a great choice if you are connected to your Android device. This awesome tool comes with tons of useful and user-friendly features. However, the $ 6 Pro version offers everything under the sun like multiple backups per app, encryption, unlimited hours, CSV export, and more.

You can download and use the basic features of the app for free, but your phone must be rooted. The Pro version is a key that you must purchase through Google Play.

google play

Use your device manufacturer’s software

Almost all smartphone manufacturers offer a proprietary backup solution for your device. However, most brands are abandoning computer (or MicroSD card) storage. Instead, they deploy secure switching apps that let you export and import information. Everything from your contacts and game progress to photos and saved messages can be efficiently zapped on your new device, wirelessly. Here is a list of some of the options by manufacturer:

Your smartphone operator may be able to provide you with unique data exchange application options. Go to your cell phone provider’s counter and ask if they have any solutions if all else fails.

Save now

You might lose everything if you don’t regularly back up your device, so it’s a vital part of your schedule. After all, there is no way to know when your device might be lost, stolen, or damaged. Accidents happen at the worst times, such as when you paid off your device or right after its insurance expired.

But while the phones themselves are replaceable, their data is not. Think about all the photos, videos, messages, and contact information stored on your device. When all of that carefully cultivated data goes missing, it can be difficult or downright impossible to retrieve.

If you care about your phone’s content, contacts, photos, and other information, research your backup options to find the one that’s right for you. In fact, back up your phone now, while you’re thinking about it.

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