Except for the bravest of souls, most electronics users view backing up their personal computers as an intelligent, prudent thing to do. It makes sense; there is a lot of valuable information contained within them. Unfortunately, all too many users fail to carry this same mentality over to their smartphones.
Backing up their smartphones seems like a time-consuming, unnecessary chore left only for the most enthusiastic technology lovers. It's not until they're staring down at the soaked, cracked or otherwise dismembered remains of their beloved mobile devices that they realize they should have backed up their data, because they've now lost the parts of their phones that they hold so dearly.
Backing up Android phones is a simple, easy way to protect that valuable data, make it accessible to multiple mobile devices and even make it easier to transfer to newer devices, should you choose to upgrade.
Here is a look at a few different methods to back up your phone quickly and easily.
Using the Cloud
Undoubtedly, most electronics users have heard of The Cloud. Also true is that few users actually know what it really is, so it is incredibly easy to take it for granted. As long as music or videos play, emails are delivered, and entertainment entertains when the correct button is tapped, no additional understanding is necessary.
Instead of being a floating, mysterious place of data storage, it is actually a massive physical infrastructure of computers housed in humongous warehouses situated in various locations all around the globe.
Making the choice to back up an Android device to The Cloud offers users numerous benefits. First, it is incredibly convenient. Adjusting a few settings is all that is needed; there is no need for wires, just an Internet connection, and users can be on their way.
Another benefit is that The Cloud gives users the ability to quickly access their data from a number of Internet-connected devices. A final benefit is that The Cloud can serve as a backup to a user's backup. Backing up to The Cloud in addition to backing up to an SD card or computer is a fantastic way to ensure that, no matter what happens, there will always be a fresh, up-to-date copy of their smartphones' content available for when disaster strikes.
To use The Cloud to perform an Android backup, take the following steps:
Locate the main menu and tap "Settings."
Select the "Accounts and Sync" option. If a Gmail account is already specified, proceed to the next step.
If no Gmail account is listed, tap "Add Accounts." Sign into your account if you have one. Otherwise, create a new account. As you set up your account, ensure that the "Keep this device backed up with my Google account" option is selected.
From the list of accounts, locate and select the name of your Gmail account, and tap it to bring up the options available for syncing. If there are multiple Gmail accounts listed, the account set off with a "g" icon should be used first.
Locate and select your Gmail account.
From the list displayed, select the appropriate options for the types of data you would like to back up.
Tap on the "Sync Now" option, if available. If not, press the home button and wait for your phone to finish the syncing process.
Verify that the sync was performed successfully by accessing your account via a web browser. If it was, you should be able to see your synced data there.
Using a Computer
Using a computer to perform an Android backup is another great way to provide a little extra insurance in case of disaster. Computer backups of Android devices offer some fantastic benefits. First, it's free. There's no need to pay for an app or pay for Cloud storage.
Also, it gives users the option to have a backup of their devices available, even if they lack a solid Internet connection. Finally, not all users are comfortable with having their information backed up in The Cloud, so a computer-based backup seems to be the more private option.
To perform an Android backup using a computer, take the following steps:
Use a USB cable to connect the Android device to the computer. If prompted by the phone, select either "Options," "USB Mass Storage," "Disk Drive" or other appropriate option, depending on your specific device. If not prompted, swipe down from the top of the phone to display the notifications panel, and select the appropriate option.
An automatic pop-up may display on your computer screen when the device is connected, and it may show multiple options. The option to look for is "Sync photos and videos with your computer."
Click this option, and follow the instructions. When finished, click "Open" to view the files. Now, you will be able to simply drag and drop data from the Android device to the hard drive of your computer.
Occasionally, an automatic pop-up will not display. In this event, take the following steps
Open "My Computer."
Locate and select your connected device from the available options. An Autoplay Menu will pop up.
Locate the DCIM folder. Another Autoplay Menu should pop up.
Drag this folder from its current location to an appropriate location on your computer to store the files you'd like to back up.
Please note that there may be a secondary DCIM folder located on the SD card. To find it, you will need to search through the applicable files. Once located, drag and drop the desired files to the preferred location on your computer.
Using an SD Card
Another useful method for protecting data is to back it up to the SD card right on the Android device. In addition to providing a redundant backup, another advantage of this method is that storing large payloads of pictures or other data can actually help to keep your device running smoothly.
To perform an SD card backup of your contacts, follow these steps:
Open the "Contacts," "People" or "Address Book" app on the Android device.
Select the "Menu" option.
Choose "Import/Export" from the available options.
Choose either "Export to SD" or "Export to Storage," and follow the directions.
Once the export is completed, take note of the exported file ending with a ".vcf" file extension.
You are now finished, and it is safe to unmount and remove the SD card.
To back up your videos and photos to the SD card, please take the following steps:
Locate and open the "File Manager," "My Files" or "Files" app. Depending on your model, you may need to download a third-party file manager application from the Google Play store.
Locate the DCIM folder. Press and hold it.
From the menu that pops up, select either "Copy" or "Move."
Locate the "SD Card" option, and select either "Paste" or "Move."
Once the process is complete, you can test this by removing the SD card, then looking in your videos and photos in your photo album or gallery. If you have opted to "Move" the files, with the SD card removed, you should no longer see them listed in the gallery.
Using Some Helpful Apps
The steps for creating backups, although fairly straightforward, are not always the best option for each user. The good news, however, is that there are a variety of apps available on the Google Play Store that can provide users with a unified solution for backing up important contact, videos and photos, as well as saving app data like precious game scores, settings and so on.
Here is a look at just a few of the many apps available.
My Backup: The My Backup app is free backup utility available to Android users. For free, this app allows you to schedule multiple automatic backups to either your local device or SD card. It also claims that it supports the ability to back up your apps, videos, music, photos, messages, calendar data, as well as a number of other common data items on your phone.
Helium: Available for free on the Google Play Store, Helium is a backup utility that allows you to back up your data to the Cloud or your SD card. This app even allows you to sync data from other devices on other networks. One particularly handy feature is that you can even schedule when your backups occur, especially useful if you're not good at remembering to do it. If you upgrade to the premium version, you'll also be able to utilize the data migration feature -- the ability to back up one device and restore to another.
App Backup & Restore: If you're looking for a simple, no-frills backup utility, then App Backup & Restore may just be the way to go. Though it doesn't backup your app data, this basic backup app allows you to send apps between devices using either Bluetooth or WiFi, backup and restore apps to and from your SD card and automatically backup your phone immediately after installing the app, among many other useful features.
Ultimate Backup: Another free app is Ultimate Backup, also available for free on the Google Play Store. It boasts itself to be the "ultimate app management tool," allowing you to not only back up your data to Dropbox, Google Drive or Box, it also comes jam-packed with additional features such as the ability to freeze system apps and choose which apps to kill at boot time. Premium features allow you to schedule automatic backups, restore apps from the Cloud, kill apps at boot time and also remove ads. Keep in mind, though, although it will work on non-rooted devices, some of the additional features may not work because of not having root permissions.
Phone insurance is a great way to protect your financial investment, but it does nothing to save the really important parts of your phone, the data stored inside it. For that, you'll need to back up your phone, whether it's to the SD card, the Cloud or your computer.
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