Backup for all and for everyone

In this article, I’m going to explain, step by step, how to back up all of the content of your device, from multimedia files, contacts, messages to WhatsApp conversations and apps along with their data. I will also explain what data can be synced with the cloud and how, so that you can access and recover them at any time. To do this, I’m going to talk about four well-known applications, although there are many others found in the Google Play store that you can use.

Data that can be backed up

  • Multimedia files (photos, videos and music)

  • Documents and other files

  • Downloads

  • Contacts

  • Messages

  • Conversations and WhatsApp multimedia files

  • Applications and their data

How to make a backup

Multimedia files (photos, videos and music)

Photos and videos

The photos and videos taken with your camera gradually build up on your device, while others are downloaded or sent from the various messaging apps. If you open the gallery, they will appear here organised in folders. For example, the “DCIM/Camera” folder is where the photos and videos taken with your camera are stored, the “Pictures/screenshots” folder is for your screenshots.

"DCIM" and "Pictures" folders

“DCIM” and “Pictures” folders

There are various ways to back up all your photos and video. The easiest way is to back up the content from each folder to your computer, but depending on a number of folders, this could be a bit tedious at times.

Another option that is highly recommended is to back up to the cloud. There are numerous apps that have this option, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Google+, etc., which allow you to create a backup in the cloud, including automatically, so that they are always stored safely.

  • In Dropbox, in the second tab, “Enable camera upload”. You can also upload manually by pressing the + sign and then uploading the desired photos, videos or files.

View of  the Dropbox app

View of the Dropbox app

  • In Drive, use the + icon in the bottom left corner to choose which files to upload.

View of the Google Drive app

View of the Google Drive app

  • Google+ has an application called “Photos” where you can back up both photos and videos.

View of the Google fotos app

View of the Google fotos app

Music

The easiest way is to copy the folders containing music files to your computer. There are applications available that allow you to upload music files to the cloud, like, Google Play Music, so that you can access them whenever you need and you can also download them if you need them offline.

View of the Google Play Music app

View of the Google Play Music app

Documents and other files

The smartphones and tablets of today are truly tools for work; you use them to edit or view spreadsheets, text documents, PDFs or any other type of file.

These types of files can be copied directly to your computer or you can also edit them online using cloud applications like Google Drive.

View of the Google Play Music app and online document editor

View of the Google Play Music app and online document editor

Downloads

There’s a folder, called “Downloads”, which takes care of “collecting” all of the files we download from the internet and other applications that use it as the default download folder. If you have important files that you wish to keep, I recommend that you copy it to your computer or upload it to the cloud.

View of the "Download" folder found in the internal storage

View of the “Download” folder found in the internal storage

Contacts

In the Contacts application menu, the “import/export” option allows you to create a backup of all your contacts, selecting from where you would like to export or import contacts from.

Here, the best option is to export contacts to Gmail, this way there’s no need to worry about losing them. Even if you change to another device, once you add your Gmail account, they will sync with your new device.

How to export contacts from a SIM card to a Gmail account

How to export contacts from a SIM card to a Gmail account

To sync your contacts with your Gmail account, simply export your contacts from where you originally saved them and import them to your Gmail account. Later, from a computer or from your phone, you will be able to edit, delete or combine these contacts. Once you have exported them to your account, we recommend deleting the other ones so you don’t have duplicates. You will save you a lot of problems.

How to access, from your computer, to your gmail contacts

How to access, from your computer, to your gmail contacts

Messages

There are various messaging applications on Google Play, for example, SMS Backup and Restore (Kitkat), and SMS Backup and Restore. They are very easy to use, simply press “New Backup” and a window will appear enabling you to enter the name of the backup and select to either save specific conversations or all of them. Once set up, press “OK” followed by “Done” or “Close” once you have finished and your backup will be saved in a folder named “SMSBackup” or “SMSBackupRestore” in the device´s internal storage. Then all you need to do is copy the folder to your computer.

SMS backup with the SMS Backup and restore

SMS backup with the SMS Backup and restore

SMS backup with the SMS Backup and restore

SMS backup with the SMS Backup and restore

The WhatsApp application saves all the files you receive in a folder, with the same name, in the internal storage. This folder contains three sub-folders for grouping files together. For example, in “Databases” contains your conversations and the “Media” folder contains photos, videos, voice files, etc.

View of the "WhatsApp" folder found in the internal storage

View of the “WhatsApp” folder found in the internal storage

To back up your conversations, go to the application´s settings, “Chat and calls > Archive all chats”. You now have everything ready to copy the folder to your computer.

How to make a backup of your WhatsApp conversations

How to make a backup of your WhatsApp conversations

With this done, your WhatsApp folder will contain the backup of your multimedia files and all of your conversations. You can upload this folder to the cloud and this way you can have them at hand at any given moment.

Apps and app data

Here comes the most difficult part of the backup process. Due to security reasons, you can’t access the applications files or data on Android unless you have superuser privileges. These apps and their data are saved in “data/app” and “data/data” respectively.

MediaTek devices have an option in the recovery stock menu for making a complete backup of user data, including apps and their data. This option is a bit uncertain, as you can´t select or edit the content of that backup. You will need to restore everything you back up later, deleting everything you had before. This option is very practical when you need to perform a hard reset but not for backup purposes.

As there is no this option does not exist in the recovery menu on Rockchip devices, you will need to use one of the methods below.

Some applications, such as WhatsApp as mentioned earlier, allow you to make a backup and save everything in its corresponding folder, whereas Telegram and some games will sync with the cloud, so losing your data won´t be a problem. However, most other applications don’t have this option, and in this case, all you can do is use the Helium or Helium Desktop applications, or make a backup using ADB commands.

How to restore data

Multimedia files

The process is easy, you just need to connect your device to your computer and copy the folders or files you need back to the internal storage.

If the files are in the cloud, you only need to install the applications again (Dropbox, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) to access them.

Documents

The process is the same as with the multimedia files; simply copy the files you need from the computer to your device. If you have them in the cloud, all you need to do is install the application that manages those files and you can download them.

Contacts

Go to “Import/export” under the Contacts application menu, and the process is the same as when you made the backup. Simply import it from the location where you saved it..

You can skip this step if you have exported your contacts to Gmail because they will always be synced.

Messages

The first thing you need to do is copy the “SMSBackup” or “SMSBackupRestore” folder back to the device. Install the application used to create the backup, then choose the copy and press “Restore” or vice versa (depending on the application). You will now have your conversations on your device again.

Creating and restoring SMS backup

Creating and restoring SMS backup


Apps and app data

This depends on the method you used to make the backup.

  • If you have a MediaTek device and you decided to use the recovery stock, you will need to go into the recovery menu and select “Restore user data”.

  • If you chose the “Helium” or “Helium Desktop” app, you will need to install it again and restore the apps and their data.

  • If you used the ADB commands to make the backup, launch the console and write the commands to restore the backup.

Note: When changing version of Android, restoring the applications and its data might could cause an error due to changed version.

As you can see, you can make a backup of all of your device´s data. It´s easy to do in some cases and slightly more complicated in others, but it’s worth doing it once a while to keep your information as safe as possible. Sometimes, despite the many precautions we might take, information can still be lost.

Tomás V. (known as tvcastro at mibqyyo) is a smartphone MVP, MyBQ editor, beta tester and active member of the BQ forum. Tomás is passionate about Android and everything around him. He enjoys helping other users on the forum and learns something new every day.