5 Tips for Backing Up Your Smartphone

If you're accustomed to thinking of backups as a necessity for the files on your computer, you may not realize the equally vital role they play in keeping your smartphone current and its data available. Unlike cell phones from the early days of mobile communications, today's devices are loaded with apps and data—none of which you can afford to lose without being able to restore them.

Use Automatic Capabilities

Conventional wisdom recommends backing up your data in more than one place. David Zimmerman, CEO of LC Technology International, a global leader in file and data recovery, agrees. "I typically have copies of my important files saved on at least two or three different flash drives, two desktops–one at home and one in the office–smartphone as well as a notebook."

Your smartphone's operating system offers automatic backup capabilities you can use to store critical data, including photos, passwords, address book contacts, email messages and the files you create in apps. Set up these automatic assistants to take care of your crucial files, syncing them to your email address. Zimmerman points out that these built-in capabilities "usually provide enough free storage through their respective clouds to back up the average person's data. If you spend a little time navigating through your device settings, this feature is not too hard to find."

Test Your System

"Make sure your backup program works," Zimmerman warns. "If you have never configured a device to be backed up, make sure you know how to use it and that the software you are using is up to date. All too often, consumers suffer from not testing their backup plan, and when they have a problem and attempt to restore, they find that their backups were never being done properly."

Zimmerman suggests that before you rely on your backup strategy to function flawlessly behind the scenes, you should test your setup with a dry run that either captures all the data in a routine backup or handles specific types of files or information, including irreplaceable documents such as photos and videos. "Take yourself through a practice run so you know how the process works," he says. "Delete a few files and restore them."

Regardless of which backup strategies you use, verify that they work properly before you need to rely on them, not when you need to restore files after you drop your phone in a pool of water or discover it's lost or stolen. After you know that you've set the correct preferences to copy your data to a local hard drive or online cloud, check your backups periodically to assure that they proceed correctly. Because operating system and app updates can reset preferences, a post-upgrade check provides important assurance that your backup settings remain active.

Back Up Selectively

In addition to automatic backups, you can create manual backups of specific types of files, including photos, by connecting your phone to your computer via a USB cable and copying your data. You can also add smartphone backup apps that handle specific types of archival chores. If you designate your photos and documents to save to a memory card instead of to your smartphone's internal memory, you can simplify the backup process, making it possible to read those files from your SD card onto your tablet device or computer through a built-in card slot or USB plug-in reader. After you back up your photos, you can organize them on your computer and choose other locations to which to back them up.

Timing Your Backups

Smartphone operating system and app updates add functionality, improve performance, squash bugs and heighten security. In some cases, however, a newly released update causes problems instead of solving them. Before you apply upgrades, back up your data to avoid losing access to critical files. Zimmerman points out that because you can download apps again, you typically don't need to back them up. You may need to make an exception before an update, especially if rolling it back requires access to backups of more than one type of information, including older app versions. If you need to reset your phone to resolve a technical problem, you'll want a data backup that precedes whatever happened.

Upgrade Your Memory Card

If your smartphone's SD card often runs low on available space, you can make room for more files with an upgrade to one with greater capacity. That potentially means more data to back up, but it also leaves more headroom to store your photos and even your apps. With more storage space on your memory card, you free up more room on your phone's built-in memory as well. Buying a backup SD card also means that when you remove a card from your phone to archive its contents–or if something goes wrong with your original card–you can substitute another one in its place.

Photo Credits: Describe the Fauna/Demand Media

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