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How to Back Up Your Android Phone

Just a few years ago, mobile phones were basic devices that could send and receive voice calls but not do much else. These days, smartphones are about as significant as full-fledged desktop PCs and laptops, and are filled with valuable email messages, contacts, videos, photos, and documents.

People depend on their smartphones every day, and losing the data those devices contain can be as disastrous as suffering through a hard-drive crash on a proper PC. That's why it's important that you back up your phone as regularly and carefully as you do your other devices.

Most major smartphone platforms can back up their data to a computer or to the Internet. In the event of a crash--which, for phones, could literally mean crashing onto the floor and shattering--the data can be easily restored when the device is repaired. Here are a couple of resources you can use with popular Android smartphones to ensure that all of your data is properly backed up.

Let Google back up your settings

Google's Android offers the ability to seamlessly save certain settings like wireless network preferences, bookmarks, and custom dictionary words to their servers using your Google account. To enable it:

  1. Go to Settings, Personal, Backup and reset, and select both Backup my data and Automatic restore.
  2. Go to Settings, Personal, Accounts & Sync, and select your Google account.
  3. Select all of the option boxes listed, to ensure that all available data is synced.

Though the specific procedure may slightly vary between Android devices, the process is generally the same. The above example is for Google Nexus S devices.

Back up additional settings

For data that Google doesn't directly back up (such as SMS/MMS messages, playlists, and alarms), you can use third-party software. One popular choice is MyBackup Pro, which allows secure backups to remote servers or your own memory card, and automated scheduling.

The software isn't free (it costs $4.99), but you can try it free for a trial period to see whether it meets your needs. To begin backing up, simply download the MyBackup Pro app from the Google Play store, and then launch the app from your phone.

Back up pictures and videos manually

For your other important data, you can back up your smartphone to your computer manually.

  1. Connect your phone to your computer via a USB cable, and it will show up as an external hard drive. For Macs, you may need to first download a tool called Android File Transfer.
  2. Select the disk, and navigate to the DCIM folder. This folder contains your video and picture data.
  3. Select the data files that you want to back up, and drag them to an area on your computer, such as your desktop. The selected files will copy over to your computer.

Back up pictures, music, and videos automatically

If the manual process above is too cumbersome, you can use third-party software to automate copying your smartphone data to your computer.

One popular method is to use AirSync from DoubleTwist, which will sync data between your computer (Mac or Windows) and your smartphone, similarly to the way iTunes works for iOS users. AirSync can also sync wirelessly over your network.

Another notable piece of software is The Missing Sync for Android--an all-in-one sync and backup program that is easy to use (and again offers wireless syncing), but has a higher price tag than other choices.

If these options don't appeal to you, consider signing up for free services like Google Music and Picasa, which make backing up your music, photos, and videos to their Internet services easy.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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