One of the most frustrating things about switching over to a new phone is that you lose so many of the finer details of data contained within your apps. The sets for your workout routines, your podcast playlist, even your saved maps on Google Maps. Yes, you still have access to your purchased apps in the Play Store, but how do you transfer apps with all their data intact?
Android’s Backup Feature Isn’t Perfect
First, we should get it out of the way that Android’s integrated Backup is getting better at backing up actual app data, but it’s not perfect. You’re covered when it comes to Gmail, Contacts, Drive and all the other Google apps because your data there is stored in the cloud, but you’ll need to double-check whether it saves data from third-party apps.
To do this, you first need to make sure “Backup and reset” is switched on. Go to “Settings -> Backup & reset,” then make sure “Back up my data” is switched on and that it’s saving to the relevant Gmail account.
Since Android Marshmallow, there’s been a largely overlooked feature called “Manage my backup” which shows you which apps are having their data backed up with Backup & Reset. Go to the Google Drive app, access its settings by tapping the hamburger menu icon at the top left, then Settings.
Here, most phones running Android 6.0 or later should see the “Manage backup” option listed under “Backup and reset.” (If you don’t have this option, scroll down to the next heading, as that means you can’t use this feature and that Google isn’t backing up your app data.)
On the “Manage backup” screen you’ll see a list of all the apps backed up to Google Drive and the amount of data being backed up from each one.
So if you move over to a new Android phone, you can rest assured that everything listed here will be restored completely when you sign into your account and select the “Restore” option during setup.
If your app isn’t in the “Manage backup” list or if you don’t have access to the list in the first place, you’ll need to look for alternative ways to back up your Android app data. Fortunately, most apps have their own backup features.
Chrome – bookmarks, passwords, etc.
To make sure that Chrome restores all your data on your new device, you first need to sign into Chrome on the device that has the settings you want. To do this, just go to Chrome’s settings, and tap “Sign in to Chrome.” You can even do this on a computer.
Then, when you open Chrome on your new Android phone, go to Settings and “Sign in” again to copy all your bookmarks, passwords and other data over.
Whatsapp and other third-party apps
Just about every app worth its salt has a backup feature in its settings, which usually lets you back up its data as a file on your SD card or on Google Drive.
In Whatsapp, for example, go to Whatsapp’s “Settings -> Chats -> Chat backup” to choose how regularly you want your messages saved to Google Drive.
This method is handy if there are just a couple of apps beyond the Google ones you want to back up data from. It’s also handy because you can restore the data whenever you like, not just when you first set up your new phone (a limitation of Google’s method).
These are some of the best means for transferring Android apps (with all their data) over to a new device. Beyond that, the best apps for backing up your Android app data are Helium and Titanium Backup.
The problem with these two is that Helium hasn’t been updated in a while and isn’t as reliable as it once was, while Titanium requires a rooted phone to restore your data. Still, they could be worth a shot!
This article was first published in June 2012 and was updated in June 2018.