Understanding Android Backup/Restore
Android Backup/Restore service backs up and restores specific data with a Google Account on an Android phone running 2.1 (Eclair) or higher. The data is stored on a remote "cloud", and provides a restore point for application or device settings once the same Google Account is signed into on a phone.
If you replace your phone, you can restore the data you've previously backed up, the first time you sign in with same Google Account you used previously on a backup. If you uncheck this option, you stop backing up your data to your account, and any existing backups are deleted from Google servers.
Some third-party applications may also take advantage of this feature, so you can restore your data if you reinstall an application. If you installed and used the application previously on this phone or on another phone, your setting will be restored as long as you sign in with the same Google Account that you backed up your settings with. Backing up settings can be elective, and it is best to review the application description to check if it is supported.
Some of the settings that are backed up/restored:
- Wi-Fi network identities and passwords
- Spelling dictionary
- Latin IME settings
- NFC settings
- Most of what is visible in the Settings User Interface, with the exception of settings that are not applicable to all phones (e.g. APN definitions) and settings that have security implications (e.g. USB debugging enabling or lock pattern).
- Some Gmail settings
- Calendar settings
- Browser settings (including bookmarks)
- Play Store data
- Some apps may use the backup service to maintain their own settings when you moves between phones. This is purely opt-in by developers, and generally not viewable what is backed up
Some of the settings that are NOT backed up/restored:
- Lock Pattern
- USB Debugging Enable/Disable setting
- CDMA or GSM Network configuration
Help & How To
Modify Backup and Restore settings
These are the general steps for most Android phones running 2.1 or above. For phone specific steps, refer to the How To's for the proper menu structure.
- From the Home screen, tap the Menu key.
- Tap Settings.
- Tap Privacy.
- Check/uncheck Back up my data or Automatic restore.
- Note: If you uncheck Back up my data and perform a Master reset, any settings or content previously sync'd with the Google account will not restore to the phone.
Review the applications attached to a Google Account
From a computer:
- From a computer, in the browser, type in https://play.google.com/store.
- In the upper right corner, click on Sign in.
- Sign in using the same Google account credentials used on the phone.
- Click on the My Andriod Apps tab.
- The page will load and provide a list of all the apps previously downloaded.
- Note: The apps that are currently installed on your phone will display an INSTALLED button. If the application isn't installed, there will be an INSTALL button available.
From the phone:
- From the Home screen, tap the Play Store icon.
- Tap the Menu key.
- Tap My Apps.
- Slide your finger to the left or right to be able to see the Installed apps or the All apps tab.
- From the Home screen, tap the Play Store icon.
- Tap the My downloads.
- All of the installed apps will be displayed.
Should all these be restored to my new phone? If not, what would prevent that?
Some settings are specific to a class of phone. For example, your tablet wallpaper won’t restore to a phone or vice-versa as the stretching/compression wouldn’t look great. The account used for backup on the previous phone must be added to the new phone during the setup wizard. Multiple Google accounts users run into this issue pretty frequently, especially if you change the order of adding accounts from phone to phone. Opting not to back up data from the old phone or skipping the restore option during setup of the new phone will prevent the process from working. If the you have multiple phones under the same account, the automatic selection of a dataset to restore can sometimes send a different phone’s image than the one you expect.
What should happen with apps when restoring an account on a new phone? Should they all restore? How quickly?
Google looks at the previous phone's list of installed apps. Assuming it is intact, they will download everything in that list that is compatible with the new phone. This process may take time depending upon the number of apps, data connection, and other restored data volume (e.g. contacts, bookmarks, music, etc.)
What limitations are there, if any, that would prevent all my apps appearing on my new phone?
When the Play Store data is restored during setup, the app contacts its backend and requests all the apps that should be pushed to the phone to match the “source” phone’s state. This could be subject to the Google Account sign in condition.
I've set the Backup and Restore options on my phone, but my apps and settings still didn't restore correctly. What else can I do?
Google is aware of this issue and the recent release of the Play Store resolved many of these issue. See Android Apps Known Issues for more details and assistance.