Save Your Stuff: How to Back Up and Restore Your Android Device

Save Your Stuff: How to Back Up and Restore Your Android Device

You probably have a lot of important data and files stored on your Android phone or tablet—contacts, appointments, apps, settings, passwords. But if your device ever gets lost or stops working altogether, you’ll want a backup that you can transfer to a new device.

Google offers a built-in backup tool that allows you to back up content through your account using the Google One service. If you have a Galaxy device, you can back up your data through your Samsung account. Other manufacturers may offer similar functionality.

The specific backup and restore steps vary somewhat based on your device and version of Android. We’ll cover the basic process, and you should be able to customize it for your specific case.

Backup with your Google account

You can use your Google Account with any Android device to back up your data. Using this method, your data and settings with Google One are backed up to your Google Drive storage. The following items are included in the backup:

App data

Call history



SMS messages

Pictures and videos

MMS messages

Google One gives you 15GB of storage for free, though that space must be shared between Google Drive, Google Docs, Gmail, and other Google services. If you need more space, paid plans are available at $1.99 per month for 100GB, $2.99 ​​per month for 200GB, and $9.99 per month for 2TB.

To get started, open Settings and look for an option that says something like Backup and restore or Backup and restore. It can have its own entry on the Settings screen or be located under General, Accounts, or System. If you can’t find it, tap the Search icon in Settings and search for Backup, which should display the option you need.

On the backup options screen, make sure the switch for Backup through Google One is on. Then tap Backup Now. The backup is running, during which the Backup Now button is grayed out.

The Account Storage section shows you how much data is being used from your total account allocation. Swipe down the screen to the Backup Details section to see how much data is backed up for each category—apps, photos and videos, SMS and MMS messages, call history, device settings, and Google account data.

By default, your device will automatically be backed up over Wi-Fi after being idle and charging for two hours. At the bottom of the screen, turn on the switch for Backup with mobile or metered Wi-Fi data if you want the backup to run over a cellular connection as well.

You can tap the Photos and Videos entry and turn off the Backup switch if you no longer want to back up and sync your photos and videos. Tap the Manage Storage button to review and delete certain types of data, such as large photos and videos, blurry photos, and screenshots.

Other options allow you to change the quality of the photos, manage whether photo backup occurs over a cellular connection, or add other folders with photos and videos.

Select the Google Account Data option from the Backup screen. You can then turn off the switch for any data you don’t want to sync, including calendar, contacts, documents, Google Drive files, Gmail, Google News, Google Play movies and TV shows, notes, and tasks.

Backup with the Google One app

You may find it easier to manage your backups directly from the Google One app, rather than from the backup feature built into the operating system. The Google One app should already be on your phone; if not, download and install it from Google Play (opens in a new window).

Open the app and tap the Backup option for your device. Tap the Backup Now button and let the backup continue. The app tells you when the backup is complete and indicates how much data is being used for each type of content.

Tap the Manage backup button and turn off the switch for any content you no longer want to back up, such as device data, multimedia messages, or photos and videos. Here you can also control whether your backup will run over a cellular connection.

Restore data from a previous backup

Now, if you need to reset your phone or tablet or set up a new device, you can restore all your data from the saved backup.

During the setup process, you’ll be asked to use your old device to transfer your apps, photos, contacts, Google account, and more. In this case, you will tap Cannot use old device at the bottom and tap OK to continue without the old device.

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Sign in to your Google account and continue the setup process. You will reach a screen that will ask you to restore data from an old device. Select the backup you want to restore and then confirm this action by entering the password for your old device and backup.

On the next screen, select which data you want to restore. By default, your photos and videos and Gmail, calendar, and Drive data are restored. Under Apps, Contacts, Text Messages, Device Settings, and Call History, uncheck any items you don’t want to restore, then tap Restore.

Your data is then restored. You can finish setting up your phone while the restore is running. After the restore is complete, check your phone to make sure all the apps, photos, videos, and other data are on your device.

Backup and Restore with Samsung Account

Some Android device manufacturers offer their own backup options. For Samsung, you need a Samsung account (opens in a new window). On your Galaxy device, open to Settings > Accounts & backup. Under the Samsung account or Samsung Cloud section, tap Backup data. By default, all the data types are selected to be backed up. Turn off the switch for any content you don’t want to preserve. Tap Backup now to run the process.

Once the backup is complete, a check mark will appear next to each type of data to confirm that it has been backed up. Tap Done. You can now restore your data at any time with or without resetting your device.

Open Settings > Accounts & backup and tap on Restore data. Make sure the correct device is listed, then select it. Review the different types of content to see which ones will be restored.

Uncheck any you don’t want to be restored, then tap the Restore button. After the restore is complete, a message indicates that all your data has been restored.

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