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Never lose a contact: how to automatically back up your Android devices

Now that so much data lives on smartphones and tablets, it’s never been more important to keep a digital copy so you can access it if your devices go walkabout. Here we look at how to back up your Android devices, but if you’re on an iPhone, iPad or Windows Phone device, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered too. Find out how to back up your iPhone here.

Android users face a bewilderment of options when it comes to backing up and syncing their devices. As well as Google’s own backup and sync tools there are a handful of comprehensive third party data protection apps; what’s more, smartphone manufacturers are increasingly integrating their own backup features too.

Android Backup And Sync

Let’s start with the basics: Android’s baked-in backup tools are pretty rudimentary, covering only essentials like system settings and app data, Wi-Fi networks and passwords. That means your SMS messages, emails, notes and photos are still at risk. However, it’s still worth enabling the back-up to save you time when you get your replacement phone. Here’s how:

How To Enable Backup

The exact location of the backup panels may vary between versions of Android, but they’re generally pretty similar. For example, on a Samsung Galaxy Note II running Android 4.3:

Go to Settings > Accounts > Backup & Reset and ensure that Back up my data is checked.

Going back to the Accounts screen, select Google under My accounts to choose which Google accounts to sync your data with. After selecting your account you can either see or choose (depending on your version of Android) exactly which bits of data on your phone will be synchronised to the Google cloud.

How To Restore From Backup

When setting up a new Android device you’re asked for your Google account – at this point your device will sync back the settings and other data stored on the Google cloud.

Android Backup Apps

Of course, there are loads of apps on Google Play promising to plug the gaps in Google’s basic backup offering. Here are some of our favourites:

My Backup Pro is a comprehensive backup app that lets you save your data to an SD card as well as to the cloud.
Helium Premium (previously known as Carbon) lets you sync your data to other Android devices or to your Google Drive, Dropbox or Box accounts.

G Cloud backs up almost everything – including music, photos, messages and settings – to the cloud. The first 1 GB of cloud storage is free, after that you can either buy more or earn more by sharing the G Cloud love with friends and colleagues.

Photos And Videos

If you work with images or video, you may want to consider a dedicated app to sync your photos and videos. Two big hitters are Google+ Auto-Backup and Dropbox Camera Upload. A real benefit of these is that your images are quickly and easily viewable and sharable from other devices.

Manufacturer-Bundled Backup Apps

To confuse things further, your device manufacturer may also bundle a backup app of their own. For example, HTC One (M8) owners might want to check out HTC Backup  and Samsung smartphone and tablet users might use Samsung Kies to sync their devices to a PC or a Mac.


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