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Data disaster averted! How to back up your Android smartphone

Oh no! You dropped your phone in the street. Then it was run over. Twice. And then you were almost hit by a Subaru trying to rescue it from the middle of the crosswalk.

If this sad story sounds familiar — or at least plausible — chances are the first thought racing through your head, as an onslaught cars race over your phone, is of all the contacts, photos, text messages, and notes stored on your device. What’s an Android aficionado to do in a case like this? Like your mother once said, “Plan ahead.”

Planning ahead is the easiest way to make sure your data isn’t lost to the ether, even if your phone is destroyed. Luckily, Google automatically syncs your contacts, calendar appointments, docs, and even app purchases — as long as you give it permission to do so. While Google will preserve a lot of your data, there are other methods and backup programs that will allow you to save the same data. Read on to find out how to back up your Android phone’s content to your PC.

Stick with Google

Giving Google permission to back up your stuff will vary slightly from phone to phone. In general, you’ll want to go to Settings > Backup & reset then tap Backup my data and Automatic restore. That will cover the following:

  • Google Calendar settings
  • Wi-Fi networks & passwords
  • Home screen wallpapers
  • Gmail settings
  • Apps installed through Google Play (backed up on the Play Store app)
  • Display settings (Brightness & Sleep)
  • Language & Input settings
  • Date & Time
  • Third-party app settings & data (varies by app)

You’re not done yet. While in Settings go to Accounts and click on your Google account. You’ll see a long list of sync icons covering App data, Calendar, Contacts, Docs, Gmail, Photos, and any other service you can virtually back up. Make sure there’s a check in the box next to everything you want backed up. That’s it.

But that’s not the only backup trick Google has up its sleeve. If you use Google’s Music service, all of your tunes will be preserved on Google’s servers, even if both your phone and your computer die at the same time. If you have a large music collection, like we do, the initial upload process will take a long time — we’re talking days. But once the first upload is done, subsequent albums will upload as they are added to your collection. Your music can then be streamed on up to ten Android devices or to other computers.

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