Your cellphone is a carefully crafted work of art. Your calendar is color-coded. Your music collection is a meticulously curated mix of your wonderful taste in tunes. You’ve spent days rearranging the icons on your home screen until they’re just right.
So imagine how heartbreaking it’s going to be when you drop that sucker in a toilet — and you will undoubtedly drop that sucker in a toilet someday. It happens to the best of us. Sure, you can get a new phone, but will that replacement ever reach the level of perfection that is your current masterpiece?
Your phone contains more personal data than you may realize. Everything from your alarms to your text messages are evidence of your use habits, let alone private information. By backing up your phone, you not only ensure that your data is protected in the event of theft or damage, but also that you can make a smooth transition when upgrading devices.
Whether you use iOS or Android, you already have the available tools to back up your most important data, such as music, photos and email. And if you’re looking for more substantial backup options, never fear — there’s an option for every user.
For Apple Users
iCloud is Apple’s cloud-based storage system. Backing up with iCloud is largely automated and can be done wirelessly over a Wi-Fi connection (though, you can’t use 3G to back up with iCloud) in about five minutes. You only have 5GB of space for free, so power users have to be willing to pony up for more storage.
To back up using iCloud, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup, and then turn on the switch for iCloud Backup. Once iCloud Backup is turned on, you can go back one screen, where all of your pre-installed Apple apps will have appeared.
At this point, you can choose whether or not you want to back up any apps that aren’t the pre-installed Apple apps. If you do, scroll down to “Storage & Backup” and tap it, then choose “Manage Storage.” Then select the option for your iPhone.
Now you can toggle any apps you want to keep backed up to “on” and any others “off.” For those that you turn off, you’ll have the option to “Turn Off and Delete” your data from iCloud. This will keep any data stored locally on your phone, while deleting the data from iCloud’s backup. Don’t bother saving any data from apps that are stored in other clouds (like Google apps, for instance), as it’ll just waste precious space.
When you connect your iPhone to a Wi-Fi signal, plug it into a power source and let the screen remain locked (basically, just plug it in and don’t use it), your phone will back up automatically.
For users who want more space without having to pay for it, you can use iTunes to back up your iPhone straight to your computer’s hard drive. Now, pro-tip: If you’re backing up your iPhone to a computer that you keep at home (or wherever your iPhone is most often), your data is just as susceptible to fire or theft. You’ll want to make sure that you’re running frequent backups for your computer using a software like Mozy or Carbonite as well to ensure that your computer data is safe.
Before you backup your iPhone, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re using an updated version of the iTunes software (go to Help > Check for Updates).
If you’re doing a wireless sync, make sure that iCloud is turned off and Wi-Fi is turned on (as well as connected to the same network as your computer) before you begin. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > iTunes Wi-Fi Sync and select your computer from the options list. You can then tap “Sync Now” or just plug your phone in and let the screen lock. It’ll sync automatically.
For Android Users
If you’re an Android fan, Google can go a long way to back up your data. And whatever Google misses, other programs can catch.
Like Apple, Google automatically backs up a significant portion of user data to the cloud with the user’s permission. To allow this, go to Settings > Backup & Reset, and then tap “Backup My Data” and “Automatic Restore.” From this screen you can also select the Google account to which you’d like to sync your data.
The more Google services you use, the more data preserved on Google’s services, even if your phone and computer both die at the same time. Initial backup might take some time, especially if you have large amounts of data saved on your phone, but once the initial data is backed up future syncs will be shorter.
You can also manually transfer music, pictures and videos from your Android phone straight to your PC via cable. Windows will mount your phone as an external hard drive, while Mac users will have to download Android FileTransfer first. Remember, if you’re storing your files on your computer, you’ll want to use other backup software as well.
Image: Google Play
If Google’s services just aren’t doing it for you, the My Backup Pro app will take care of just about anything you can backup on your phone without rooting it. Photos, app data, browser bookmarks, contacts, system settings, home screen shortcuts, alarms, calendars, MMS messages, SMS messages, music playlists and almost anything else you can customize on your phone can be tucked away in case of an accident. Information can be stored to the SD card (to transfer to a new phone) or to the cloud (in case your phone is stolen), so your data is always readily available.
Image: Google Play
If you’re just concerned with your SMS messages, SMS Backup is a free app that will store your texts to a label in your Gmail account, meaning that they’ll be searchable as well.
Do you use another program or application to back that thang up? Let us know in the comments section below.