There is no denying that the modern smartphone has become an extension of your life. They store copious amounts of personal data that often, are of huge sentimental value to us. In the eventuality of you losing your phone or simply damaging it, chances are high you could lose all your precious data. Thankfully, this is 2020, and there exist many tools that could prevent such a scenario from happening. In this article, you will learn how to backup your Android phone so that you have access to all your precious files even when you're either left with a non-functional phone. This will also prove helpful if all you need is to simply move your data from one Android phone to another.
How do I backup my Android phone?
- How to back up your Android phone using Google
- How to backup photos on your Android phone
- Backup Android phone photos using other cloud services
- How to back up contacts on Android
- How to back up phone data to your PC
How do I transfer my backups to a new device?
Unless you are using one of the newer Huawei/Honor devices, chances are high you have an Android smartphone that has Google services. This also means you have the option to backup all the content on your phone to your Google account (Google Drive to be precise). There are two ways to go about it; do a manual backup or turn on automatic backups. In both these cases, it is important to know what actually gets backed up. The steps mentioned below should suffice for the vast majority of Android users.
Things that get backed up when you perform an automatic/manual backup using Google. Please read this carefully.
- Google calendar events, settings
- Saved Wi-Fi networks
- Saved wallpapers
- Gmail settings
- Apps and app data (only supported for select apps - could vary)
- Display settings. language and date/time
- Call logs
Note: This method DOES NOT back up photos stored on your Android phone. For photos, there is a separate method that we shall deal with in a separate section below.
Backup your Android phone automatically using Google
Backing up your phone automatically using Google is the best way to ensure that you do not end up with lost data. Once turned on, this will ensure that you can access and restore the 'lost' data to a new phone.
The steps mentioned below is per how the menu appears on a phone running stock Android 11. This could vary from one phone to another depending on the Android Skin you're using.
- Go to the 'Settings' menu on your phone and select 'System' and then go to 'Backup.'
- If you can't find this option, use the search function and look for 'backup'.
- Clicking 'Backup' will open a page with the option that says 'Back up to Google Drive'. You can clearly see all the data that shall be backed up when you select this option.
- Turn the backup option on and select a Google account to which this data needs to be backed up to. Note that you might require sufficient free space on your Google Account for this to work properly.
- Once this is done, the phone will periodically take a backup of the aforementioned things that you will be able to 'recover' when you either reset your phone or buy a new phone.
Backup your Android phone manually using Google
This option is particularly useful if you know in advance that you will be restoring this backup to either a new phone or a phone that needs to be reset. A manual backup also ensures that the new stuff (SMS, for example) that are on the phone in the time before an automatic backup happens (say overnight) is also included. To do this, simply select the 'Back up now' option from within the 'Backup' settings and the phone will create a fresh manual backup. Once complete, you can quickly proceed to restore this data to a new phone or a reset phone.
Smartphones of today take great photos and have effectively replaced point and shoot cameras. We capture various occasions of our lives and even document them with the help of smartphones. In the event that your phone is stolen/damaged, losing these photos can be extremely disheartening. Thankfully, Google lets you safely and automatically backup your photos to Google Photos. Here's how you can ensure all your photos are safely backed up to Google Photos so that you won't lose them. Ever.
Chances are high your phone already comes with the Google Photos app preinstalled. On some phones, it is the default Photo Viewing app. In case your phone doesn't have Google Photos preinstalled, you can download it from the Play Store. Once it is installed, sign in to your preferred Google account and follow the steps below.
- Open Google Photos
- Click the circle at the top right corner to access the settings menu
- Open "Photos Settings"
- Open Back up & Sync
- Turn the 'switch' on.
In case you are using a non Pixel phone, you have two additional options to take care of as far as upload size is concerned. Once you select the backup option, you will be presented with three options.
1. High quality: If you select this, photos backed up to your Google account will not take additional space, and you have free unlimited storage. In case of 4K videos stored on your phone, they will be 'downgraded' to 1080p resolution if you select this backup mode. We recommend most users should select this option since Google's photo and video compression is top-notch, and you won't feel any noticeable loss in quality.
2. Express: On some devices, Google also offers an Express option that backs up photos at an even lower resolution than in the aforementioned 'high-quality mode'. Videos, however, will look less impressive in this mode since the resolution will be reduced to 'standard resolution, which is just 480p. This option, therefore, isn't recommended unless you live in an area with really bad internet access.
3. Original Quality: In this mode, photos on your phone will be stored in their original resolution without any compression. While this is the best option among the three, everything you upload in original quality counts against your Google Account storage quota, and you might quickly run out of space. Use this only if you have a paid subscription to Google with more than 2TB of storage available for your account.
By default, Google selects the 'Camera' folder on your smartphone to be backed up via Google Photos. You can, however, manually select the folders that you want to be backed up by selecting them once from 'Back up device folders' option. Once you do this, all existing and new photos added to this folder shall also be automatically backed up.
You can also choose to select whether to use Wi-Fi or Mobile data to complete this backup. If you are on an expensive data plan, you might want to turn off the 'Use mobile data" option.
Note: Starting June 1, 2020, all photos backed up to Google Photos will be counted against your Google storage, the company recently confirmed. While this is a bummer, you still can save as much as images you want in the 'high quality' mode until then and these shall not be counted against your 15GB of free space. If you own a Pixel 5 or an older Pixel phone, you will continue to enjoy free backup for photos uploaded from those phones.
While Google Photos is among the easiest ways to backup your photos to the cloud, it isn't the only one option out there. In case you are an Amazon Prime member, you have the option to use Amazon Drive for the same purpose. Prime members get unlimited photo storage and 5GB of video without subscribing to an additional plan.
Microsoft also offers the One Drive backup solution to users. While not as good as the plans offered by Amazon or Google, if you already happen to be a subscriber to Microsoft services, you can use One Drive as an added bonus. There are other services like Flickr and DropBox that can also be used for cloud backups.
The aforementioned Google backup method does include your contacts as well. However, there is a catch. Some manufacturers or carriers provide their own interfaces for organizing your contacts. Some phones - by default- save contacts to their own memory, and these don't necessarily sync with Google's Contacts system by default. This means your contacts are not being synced and will be restricted to your device or SIM card.
To avoid this situation, check your contact apps settings and make sure it's not set to back up to anywhere else, and to go Settings > Backup as described above and make sure it is toggled on. Also ensure that when you add a new contact to your phone, it is always saved to your Google Account and not elsewhere (including phone storage).
If you don't trust Google with your personal photos or any 3rd party service for that matter, you have the options to manually backup your phone.
You can easily back up your Android phone to your PC with a simple cable connection...
- Connect your Android phone to your PC with a USB cable
- Open a Windows Explorer window and navigate to your phone. (On Macs, you will require an application called Android File Transfer)
- Here you will see a bunch of folders including photos, videos, music and documents.
- Go into each folder and copy/paste the stuff you want to save onto your computer for safekeeping.
This is a pretty handy thing to do even if you have other backup solutions at hand because there's no such thing as too many backups. If you want to retrieve it at a later date, then you'll need to get back on your PC.
One of the reasons we suggest sticking to Google for backing up your data and settings is the sheer simplicity of the process of restoring it to a new phone. In case you want to set a new phone with data from an old phone that has already had its settings backed up, all you need to do is walk through the initial setup process on the new phone. Once you sign in to your Google account, you will be prompted to 'restore backup' from your existing phone, and all your data - including your phone call logs, app data and SMS will be restored to the new phone. Note that in some cases, transferring app data might not work properly. This, almost entirely, has to do with the app developer and not Google.
For photos, regaining access to images from your old phones is as simple as signing into Google and opening the Photos app. The phone will sync and eventually show all the backed up photos in the app. The good thing with Google Photos is that you can also view and download these photos from a computer by simply going to Google Photos.
We know there are several other methods to backup your Android phone. If you only want to transfer data from one phone to another, you can also check this article. The ones listed above, however, are the easiest to do and will suffice for most people with Android phones. In case you were looking for a more comprehensive guide that addresses other ways to backup your phone, we will soon have a guide up for that as well.