How to backup your data on Android

How to backup and restore various data such as SMSes, contacts and apps on your Android device using SnapPea and other tools.

By Team Digit Published Date
10 - Jan - 2014
| Last Updated
28 - May - 2014
How to backup your data on Android

Doing a backup or restore of data on your smartphone is something we all need to know how to do, because we change phones ever so often, upgrade the OS, root, etc. While Apple, BlackBerry and Windows Phone have pretty decent systems for managing phones, Android, despite being the most popular, still lags a little behind in terms of desktop phone management applications. Manufacturers such as Samsung and Sony do provide their own apps, but if you’re a regular modder who can’t sit with the same ROM for too long, you might be in a bit of a pickle. Without further ado, here are some tips to get your Android phone all backed up and secure.

You can download SnapPea from It is a free tool and one of the best we’ve seen at backing up your device. It also does more than just backup, as you shall see.
Download and install the program and also download the app on your phone, from the Google Play Store. Tablet users will need to download the app from though as the app on the Play Store doesn’t currently support tablets. Fire up the desktop and phone apps and you’re ready to connect. The software allows you to connect either via Wi-Fi or USB cable. To use Wi-Fi, you will be given a unique key that will allow you to pair your device with the PC. To connect via USB, make sure your phone is in “USB debugging mode” or the software will not be able to interact with your device.
If all goes well, you should see your phone’s name and model number listed on the top left corner of the screen. Be warned that if you’re using a custom ROM, the name might defer depending on the phone the ROM is based on. Don’t worry about it though, as long as you see a name and number you should be fine.
Would you like to install this software?
Moving on to the apps panel, you can create a complete backup of all the apps on your system. By all, we really mean all, even your default system apps can be backed up in a jiffy. The neat thing that SnapPea manages to do here is that it also backs up all your app data along with the APK file, so all your hard work spent on Temple Run or Angry Birds or even keyboard training will never again be wasted. Isn’t that great?
SnapPea lets you backup photos and contacts and messages as well. This is something your Google account does by default on any Android device, but it is nice to have a secondary backup just in case. Backing up messages with SnapPea is a bit of a hit and miss though. We faced issues where the dates were mixed up and ancient messages were being forced to the fore. For SMSes, try SMS Backup and Restore from the Play Store (we’ll talk about it later on in this section).
Backing up and managing music is also quite convenient with this software, especially if you manage your music via iTunes. SnapPea lets you directly import your iTunes library and transfer it to your phone quite easily.
The “downloads” section of this application is one that merits a second, more detailed look. You’ll see a whole pile of links there. You can download apps from 1mobile and the Google Play store, even YouTube videos and iTunes trailers. All downloads will automatically be transferred to your phone in the appropriate format. There are links present to sites such as Android Central and Phandroid for those interested.
One very interesting feature of SnapPea is its ability to capture screenshots from your device. The process couldn’t be simpler. Connect your device, hit the capture button on your welcome screen and that’s it! You‘ve got a screenshot saved in the folder of your choice. The capture tool also lets you view your phone’s screen in real-time, perfect for presentations and such. The response when streaming is a little slow, but is sufficient if all you want to do is project your screen somewhere.
For those who like to switch ROMS a lot and routinely put their phones into recovery mode, SnapPea can get quite frustrating if you’re using the default configuration. You will need to change the settings that automatically launch SnapPea when a phone is detected as it will interfere with your recovery or flashing process. To do this, go to settings and uncheck both the checkboxes under the “Launch” sub-head. You can also enable or disable auto-backup from this screen.
Backing up SMSes
One of the simplest and best tools for backing up messages is the SMS Backup and Restore utility available for free on the Google Play Store. Just download and install it on your phone, accept all the disclaimers and get it up and running.
To backup the messages, hit “Backup”, choose your destination folder, name your backup and hit ok. The phone might take a few minutes to complete the task depending on the number of messages you have and voila! You have an editable xml backup of all the messages on your phone. We would recommend saving the backup on an external SD card or something as it would be safer.
Backup SMSes, pronto
Restoring SMSes is as simple as backing them up. Suppose you formatted your phone or flashed it, just download the app again, make sure that your backed up XML file is present on the device and hit restore. Navigate to the backup location and select your file and hit OK .The interesting part here is that the app will let you decide the date from which you want to restore your messages, so all those archived messages from your childhood days need not be restored to your phone, but you can rest assured that there is a backup available should you ever want to access them again.
Backing up contacts and apps
This is a very basic function that Android enables by default, but there are quite a few people who accidentally disable it or don’t know about it.
Save all contacts
To ensure that the backup and restore service is running, you need to go through the following checklist in the settings section of your Android phone.
1. In Accounts and Sync, ensure that you have setup at least one Google account. If you haven’t (very unlikely), do so now. After setting it up, or if there is already an account listed, tap on that account and ensure that the checkboxes for syncing your contacts, drive, photos, email, etc. are selected as per your requirement. Note that if you have multiple accounts, items such as contacts might overlap in your contacts app. Also, setting up Google will actually sync photos with your Google account directly on certain phones.
2. In the Backup and Reset option, make sure that “Back up my data” and “Automatically restore” are checked. Also verify that a backup account has been set. 
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