How to Back Up Your Android Device

Never lose another contact or photo with these important tips

Stack of mobile devices
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We talk about this a lot: backing up your Android. Whether you're rooting your phone, updating your Android OS, or simply trying to get more space on your device, backing up your data is always a good practice. But how exactly do you do it? As is common with Android, there are several options.

Note: The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

First, you can simply go into your device's settings and select Backup and reset from the menu. (In Android 8, this is under Settings, System, Backup) From here you can turn on automatic backup of app data, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings to Google servers and set up a backup account for your data; a Gmail address is required, and you can add multiple accounts. Select the automatic restore option, which will restore apps that you've uninstalled in the past, so you can pick up where you left off in a game, and retain custom settings.

Here you can also reset settings to the default, reset network settings (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc.), or do a Factory data reset, which removes all data from your device. (That last option is a must before you sell or otherwise get rid of an old Android device.) Be sure to also back up any contents on your SD card and to move it to your new device when you upgrade.

Google Photos, an alternative to the stock Gallery app, also has a backup and sync option in its settings. It differs from the Gallery app in a few different ways, including the backup option. It also has a search function that used geolocation and other data to find relevant photos. You can use a variety of search terms, such as Las Vegas, dog, wedding, for example; this feature worked well in my tests. You can also comment on photos, create shared albums, and set up direct links to individual photos. It's more like Google Drive in this way. Google Photos, like the Gallery app, also has editing tools, but the Photos app also includes Instagram-like filters. You can access Google Photos on your desktop as well as any mobile devices you use. Finally, there's an option to free up space by deleting photos and videos from your device that have already been backed up.

Backup Apps for Android

The most popular backup apps according to experts, are Helium, Super Backup, Titanium Backup, and Ultimate Backup. Titanium Backup requires that you root your device while Helium, Super Backup, and Ultimate Backup can be used by both rooted and unrooted phones. If you use Super Backup or Ultimate Backup with an unrooted device, some features will not be available; this is not the case with Helium. All four apps offer the ability to schedule regular backups and to restore data to a new or reset phone. Each app is free to download, but Helium, Titanium, and Ultimate each offer premium versions with added features such as ad removal, automatic backups, and integration with third-party cloud storage services, such as Dropbox.

Restoring Your Device

If you have Android LollipopMarshmallow, or Nougat, you can use a feature called Tap & Go, which uses NFC to transfer data from one device to another. Tap & Go is only available when you're setting up a new phone or if you've restored your device to factory settings. It's very easy to use, and you can select exactly what you'd like to transfer. The alternative is to simply sign in to your Gmail account; you can even choose which of your devices to restore from if you've had multiple Androids. If you're using a backup app, simply download the app to your device and sign in, and then follow the instructions to restore your device.

That wasn't so hard, was it? Never lose your music, photos, contacts or other important data again by backing up your Android devices regularly. Seriously, do it now.