How to Restore Your Android Phone Settings From a Backup

Android’s backup and restore functions haven’t got a great track record when it comes to clarity and reassurance. Yes, there’s Google Backup, but what it does exactly is never that clear. And what can you do on top of it to ensure that you can restore your Android settings, apps and data whenever you need them?

Here we’re going to tell you how to restore your Android data from backups, whether you’re moving over to a new phone or restoring data to the one you already have.

First we’ll be showing how to restore data using Google Backup, but this requires you to be switching to a new phone. If you want to restore Android settings without switching phone, click here to jump straight to the right section of this guide.

The most basic thing you need to do is enable Google Backup, which saves certain key data to your Google account and lets you restore it when you move over to a new phone. This isn’t the only or necessarily most effective backup method we’ll be covering here, but is a good foundation to have, and backs up the following:

  • Wi-Fi passwords
  • Clock info, alarm clocks etc.
  • Call information
  • Contacts
  • Device Settings
  • Some, but not all, third-party app data

To switch Google Backup on, go to “Settings -> Backup & reset” and set “Back up my data” to On, making sure that the Backup account is the same Gmail account that you’ll be setting up a new phone with.

You also need to switch on the “Automatic restore” slider, which will ensure that, where possible, apps that you restore will come back with all your data and settings intact.

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Since Android Marshmallow, certain phones can benefit from an additional feature of Google Backup to also restore certain third-party apps with all their data intact.

To see if you can do this, go to the Google Drive app on your phone, tap the hamburger menu at the top left -> Settings, then under “Backup and reset” you should see “Manage backup”, which you can tap to see which third-party apps are being backed up with their data.

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Anything you see in this list will be saved in Google Backup, and you’ll be invited to reinstall these apps when setting up your account on a new phone.

So you’ve backed up all your data and you want to restore it on a new phone. It’s pretty much just a case of signing into your new phone with your Google account, and following the instructions.

Signing into your Google account will automatically sync calendar events, contacts, Wi-Fi passwords and the rest of it, but you’ll also be offered to select a device to “Restore apps” from.

Select your old phone, then proceed until the process is complete.

Restore Android Apps Without Switching Phone

If you want to keep a backup of apps that you can restore whenever you want on your phone, then the best app for you is Helium Backup (non-rooted users) or Titanium Backup (rooted users).

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These apps let you create full backups of your Android apps (including system apps), which you can then restore as and when you want them, which is much more flexible than the Google method.

Note that while Helium Backup can backup and restore SMS data, call logs and Dictionary settings, Titanium can backup and restore just about anything thanks to having full root access.

Those are your best bets for backing up and restoring your Android settings and data, though it’s worth remembering that many apps have their own backup and restore settings that you can manually utilize.

Obviously, it would be more convenient if Google Backup let you restore your apps outside of the initial setup process, but at least the third-party options have your back!

3 comments

  1. I’ve done this, using the same Google account on both phones, accounts are synced on both my old phone and my new phone. But when I go to calls none of my contacts are visible or searchable. It’s like there’s nothing there. Yet both phones indicate that contacts are synced. What am I doing wrong?

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