Cell phone backup is the practice used to store files, data, and apps in case of loss, theft, or device replacement. With the backup, you can restore contacts, messages, installed applications, and, in some cases, even settings on a new smartphone. Understand, in the following lines, how this tool works on Android phones and iPhones.
Both manufacturers in the Android world, such as Samsung, Xiaomi, and Motorola, and Apple offer features that generate these backups automatically. The technology consists of storing the backup in the cloud so that the user can recover the information when necessary. It is worth noting that there are also independent apps that can also perform the function, as can be seen below.
What is mobile backup?
Backup is the practice of creating protected copies of data that can be restored if the original file is lost. When it comes to smartphones, this can encompass both the files that the user has locally – such as photos and videos stored on the device – as well as installed apps, their settings, and files of their own. This copy of the backup is usually stored in the cloud so that the files can be recovered even if something happens to the phone.
Both Android and iOS offer their tools for performing backups using the cloud: while the official iPhone mechanism uses an Apple service (although there are third-party apps for the same purpose), on Android devices, there is the option of an official tool from Google and the manufacturers. On Android, there are also third-party apps dedicated to the task.
Which files are protected?
Backup tools allow you to determine which files and apps are backed up. In general, the features from Google and manufacturers such as Samsung and Xiaomi allow the user to restore installed apps, some phone settings, and files stored on the phone.
On the other hand, independent apps such as Titanium and Super Backup & Restore – which require root, a function that gives complete access to the phone – allow you to go deep into the minutiae of the system. Thus, they grant access to more specific settings, such as Wi-Fi passwords and granular adjustments of various device settings.
Some features offered by the manufacturers also do this kind of more in-depth backup, however, with one major difference: the user is usually limited to storing this data in the cloud. With a standalone application, it becomes possible to choose not only the backup schedule – so that new and updated copies are generated periodically – but you can also choose where these copies are stored.
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How to use a backup?
A backup of your cell phone has the clear applications of being able to restore everything on your phone in case of need: if your phone suffers some kind of accident or is stolen, by restoring the copy you can recover apps, settings, and files. In addition to this precautionary measure, cloud backups make your life easier when migrating content to a new cell phone.
If you prefer integrated tools from Google or the phone manufacturer, you can go to the phone’s “Settings” app and search for “backup”. In the options panel, you can configure how the tool works, determine what kind of data you want to backup, and whether your copies will be made automatically and at what intervals.
Samsung phones, for example, produce a copy stored in the Samsung Cloud, the brand’s cloud service. Using Android, the user can also turn to the Google One service: it works in basically the same way but will use your Google Drive to store the backup data. Similarly, Apple’s service uses iCloud to store information.
What about offline backup?
The more redundancies – or, basically, copies – your backup has, the safer you are. That’s why, from a more professional point of view, the best practice is to go beyond the cloud and look to generate local backups. Dedicated applications can come in here, as we have already mentioned, for the user to create copies to keep on a PC or a USB stick, for example.
The reason for this is simple: the usage limit of a cloud backup is tied to your access to it. Without the Internet, there is no possibility of recovering the data. And the cloud is a service that, no matter how reliable providers like Google, Apple or Samsung are, is also subject to instabilities, problems, and limitations of space or even supply.
One example: recently, Samsung stopped automatically backing up user photos within the Samsung Cloud. Those who were not aware that this tool was no longer available and did not download the images may have lost content.
What are the benefits and risks of adhering to backup?
The benefits are clear: increase the number of copies and know that accidents or misplacement of the device will not cause irreparable data loss. If the user has more backup sources than just the manufacturer’s and/or Google’s cloud, even better: the preservation of information becomes even more reliable and increases the ability to recover files without relying on internet access.
Risks associated with the practice of backups have to do with the user’s relationship with this data preservation policy. If you want to have more than one backup of your information, but are reluctant to update and keep them organized, it is possible, for example, that your backup may not be as efficient when you need it most.
Another problem – much more common with computers – is related to security: if you have a suspicious app loaded with malware and decide to include it in your backup, it may serve as a vector to distribute malware on your new phone. Another point of attention for those who make local backups is to be aware of passwords and protections so that if the information falls into the hands of a third party, they cannot exploit the files, settings, and apps that you have decided to preserve.
What can compromise a backup?
It is important to be careful what you backup: suspicious apps should not be selected for backup. Also, it is important to apply security measures for copies stored locally on a computer or flash drive. If you only make use of Google or Apple tools (or manufacturers such as Xiaomi and Samsung), there is not much to worry about.
In the case of more sensitive data that you would like to have more copies of and not rely so heavily on the cloud, it is always worth considering that the reliability of this information may depend directly on your habit of renewing backups frequently.
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