As disaster can strike without warning, it's important to do a backup of everything on your device. You can back up your calendar, contacts, photos and other data automatically with your Google Account or with a USB cable. But how can you backup your app data easily? That's where these backup apps come in. There are a lot to choose from, but here's our pick of the very best ones.
Android and data backups: why do we need backup apps?
Android has lacked a flawless backup solution for years. Only with root access is it possible to create a complete backup, making an iPhone-style switch an excruciatingly complicated affair. Enviously, we look upon iOS users who can upgrade their iPhone and, at the push of a single login, have all their old data and settings magically restored. Since Android users can't move over their app data easily like this, we have backup apps instead.
The following backup solutions will help you back up your app data, but often root privileges are required for the app to get access to relevant parts of the file system. What this means and how it works is explained in our article on how to root:
Want to save your SMS messages, calendar, contacts and call logs? With the exception of text messages, this data is stored in your Google account and automatically moved from your old device to the new one. We talk about this further in our article on how to back up and recover text messages.
Want to back up photos and music files? These can be simply copied to the computer using a USB cable and thus do not require a special backup app. But if you'd rather not go to the trouble, then you can let Google Photos take care of your images.
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To manage and secure your messages you can use SMS Backup+, an application that automatically synchronizes SMS, directly to a selected Gmail account by creating a special folder in your mailbox. With this app, you can also set up automatic backup of SMS, MMS and call logs or decide to save the SMS at regular intervals or after a specific period of time from receipt.
For the app to work properly, you must enable the IMAP option in your inbox. To do this on Gmail, go to your account settings and select Forwarding and POP/IMAP>Access IMAP. Now tick the Enable IMAP entry. Now you just have to start the app on your smartphone and enter your login details. In a moment the app will start transferring all your messages to your inbox.
We know that since WhatsApp first appeared, SMS are no longer as popular as they used to be. Only a few who are fond of it prefer to continue communicating with traditional messages. For those of you who can't be without the world's most popular messaging app, backing up your text messages is a thing of the past, so we've prepared a guide that will show you how to back up your WhatsApp conversations and transfer them to another device:
Assuming you have root access, no other backup app comes close to Titanium Backup. This exhaustive app can save almost anything: apps, application data, messages, system settings, widgets, backgrounds, you name it.
Its recovery services don’t just work on stock devices but also across most hardware, Android versions and custom ROMs. Anyone who likes an experimental Android experience and has flashed their device will appreciate Titanium Backup.
Pros and cons
|Extensive backup options||Confusing interface|
|Access to system apps||How to use it barely explained|
|Almost total control offered through fine-tuning|
|Removal of bloatware and old data|
Helium (formerly Carbon) comes from the makers of ClockworkMod and is one of the few backup apps that puts on a winning performance not only through its functionality but also with its attractive design. Even without root privileges, it is possible to use Helium to backup not only your apps but also messages, Wi-Fi passwords and application data. Backups of media files such as photos, music and videos are not possible with Helium.
The paid version provides a backup schedule, cloud connectivity and the removal of all ads.
Pros and cons
|Simple solution||Limited range of backup options|
|Doesn't require root access||Some apps take a while to backup|
|Full cloud connectivity|
|Automated backups possible|
Backup Your Mobile
Backup Your Mobile is a free backup tool that's handy for root and non-root devices alike. With it, you can back up various data such as SMS, MMS and call logs, contacts, dictionary and more. User apps and some system settings can also be backed up. If you're a rooted user it also allows you to back up secure system settings such as app data and WiFi passwords. Backups can be automatically scheduled and stored locally or uploaded to Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive.
Pros and cons
|SMS and call logs included||Backing up to new devices unreliable|
|Cloud compatibility||Video ads|
|Automatic scheduling of backups|
Super Backup can not only back up messages and contacts but also applications, call logs, bookmarks and your calendar. Super-user privileges are only required for backing up settings and app data. You can set it to automatically send a copy of any back ups you create to your Gmail address, and it now supports the same with Google Drive. You can’t back up all media formats with Super Backup Pro, but for those files it does support, the operation is self-explanatory and simple to carry out. The Pro version is devoid of advertising.
Pros and cons
|Easy to create backups||No automated backups through alternative cloud storage solutions|
|Ability to send backups automatically to Gmail||Can't backup media|
|No root access needed|
For those who are reluctant to let their data stray too far, MyPhoneExplorer allows you to create a complete back up locally on your computer. Simply connect to your PC over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a USB cable through the Windows program and you’re ready to go. The tool focuses not only on backing up data, but it also provides additional functions such as sending SMS messages via PC and app management (start, uninstall).
Pros and cons
|All data available offline||Requires Windows|
|Backs up all file types|
The target group of MyBackup is newbies. A simple interface and deliberately limited backup options make the app very approachable. It also includes root-requiring options to back up application settings, data and APKs.
Regular users can create back-ups of their programs, messages, system settings, APNs and contacts and call lists. Cloud storage is only available from the manufacturer itself, and it’s limited to 100 MB. If you want more space, you will need to pay for it.
Pros and cons
|No need to register||Only one cloud storage option|
|Offers local backups||Selection of media made difficult|
|No root access required|
Thanks to the automated backup of photos through Dropbox or Google+, as well as music through other cloud storage solutions, there is hardly any need for full back ups of smartphones or tablets. One of the most important uses of backup apps, however, is for backing up application data and settings, so you can transfer these over to a new device with ease.
In this regard, Helium is the best solution for unrooted devices, but super-users still stand to benefit from the extended options it provides. For the smartphone hobbyist, Titanium Backup is the Swiss army knife of backup apps, being simply littered with options.
Have you tried any of these apps? Which backup apps do you trust?