Guide to Backing Up Your Android Data

Cause data = “My Precious”!
Little did the founders of Android know that this Linux based Operating System would become the world’s leading smartphone platform when the first Android-powered phone was sold in October 2008. When compared with the now legacy OS like Nokia’s Symbian, BlackBerry OS and iOS, Android was able to dent the mobile OS market rapidly and with a greater success than others that came before it.
Being an open source OS helped Android and as it’s approaching to Jelly Bean it’s becoming more stable, reliable and fluid like never before. But as of ICS, there are a few nooks and crannies that a user experience over the course of using it. And as such Google have make sure all the data is safely backed up on clouds of their servers a user has to make sure it’s working like it’s supposed to.
In this guide I am going to mention some steps that you can take in order to make sure majority of data is backed up or the clouds or on the card, since precaution is always better. And in case you are doing hard reset or just plunging into the rooting and custom ROM’s venture, backing up data is and should be at the first priority. So here we go:
1.  Contacts backup:

The first time a user starts his Android phone he is greeted with a Google Sign-in screen. And although the phone can be used without signing into your Google account, it’s a great step to make sure your contacts are not backed up!

So, if you haven’t signed in, do that now. And make sure “Sync Service” is enabled. You can check that by going into, Settings -> Accounts & Sync and making sure your Google ID is listed on the page and Sync is turned on. This will make sure all your contacts are backed up, which you can check by going to Gmail and observing the “Contacts” page.

2.  SMS backup:

You can take the backup of all the messages in your phone through a nifty app called, SMS Backup+(Link). Just install this app, check the “Connect”checkbox, let it connect to your Gmail, and finally use “Backup” and “Restore”buttons to backup or restore all your messages in one tap.
You can check if your messages are backed up by logging onto your Gmail account and browsing to the “SMS” label on the pane to the left side.
If it’s of any consolation this app also backs up your call log details on Google account and is kept under a separate label “Call Logs”.


3.  Application backup:

All the application which is installed on your phone such as “Talking Tom” is called an App. And in case you don’t want to re-download all the apps once you reset your phone/install a custom ROM, the easiest way to do so is a file manager “Astro” (Link). Astro is a pretty robust app that also allows you to backup all the apps installed on your phone in .apk files, which are .exe equivalent in Windows OS but for Android.

Install Astro. Open the app. Select “Application Backup”. Checkmark the checkbox beside “Backup”button and tap the button. There you go. Once the backup completes in a minute you can browse through the .apk files which would be kept in “backups” folder on your SD card. 
Later you can use the same “Application Backup” feature of Astro to restore the apps easily one by one.
4.  Application Data backup:

Backing up application is one thing, and the data associated with it is something other and more critical then the former. It can also be the most tedious task, but definitely worth it.
This step can vary with each app. But majority of apps should have a setting which allows you to backup its associated data easily. Like:
i)            AndChat (IRC Client): You goto “Settings”-> “Data Backup” -> “Export Data”. And it will save the server settings onto card, from which you can import once you re-install the app. Also to take backup of Chats just make sure checkmark of “Enable Chat Logs” is enabled under Chat Logs setting.

ii)           Astrid Task: This app provides multiple ways to backup. Just open the app, goto settings menu and select “Accounts & Settings” -> “Sync & backup”, and select backup of your choice. I would recommend “Google tasks”.

iii)         ColorNote: Goto “Settings” -> “Online Sync”. And click sync button.

iv)         Opera Browser: Opera has a special feature to make sure all your bookmarks are backed up. Open Opera, goto Settings -> “Opera Link” and create an account if you haven’t done it before. Next time you install Opera you just have to login to this Opera Link and all your bookmarks will be backed up.
Note: Opera Link also works on Desktop version of the browser. So using “Opera Link” you are making sure all your bookmarks will be synchronized over mobile as well as desktop PC!

v)           WhatsApp: Little do everyone know that all the chat logs of WhatsApp can be backed up too! Just open the app. Goto Settings -> “Chat Preferences” -> “Chat history backup”. And all your WhatsApp messages will be backed up on the SD card. Next time you install WhatsApp, it will automatically ask from you, if you want to recover chats from these logs. Smooth eh?!

vi)         Final word: Is you need to take backup of data from an app not listed above, fret not. Because you just need to search for the setting which lets you do it. Having said that, not all data from the apps needs to be backed up. For eg: Email apps like Gmail and Yahoo, GTalk, Facebook are all the kinds of apps that re-fetch the data from servers when you use them. Pics in your Gallery need not be backed up since those are already in your card. Even Dropbox keeps all data to cloud, so you don’t need to worry about it.
Other thing is to consider are Games. I am not sure if many games allow the player data to be backed up. But if you ever need to do so, you can use Titanium backup app, the explanation of which isn’t in the scope of this article! 😛
5.  Complete OS backup:

Call yourself paranoid, or being extra cautious, but there can be good reasons for the desire to backup the “Entire OS” of your phone. Just like taking an image of the OS and restoring it if needed.
But to do that your phone needs to be rooted and a custom recovery needs to be flashed. Then you can take a Nandroid backup. There are many guides available to do that. But for the sake of brevity I want to mention that if you just want to reset your phone and don’t want to root it (since it voids warranty), you won’t need to back up the entire OS.
Now you are equip with enough knowledge to backup your Android device. Reset it or not, play with custom ROM or not, it’s always help to have your device backed up.

Good luck and Godspeed! 😉

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