Backup, Part II & Storage

Storage for phones is growing, but media seems to grow just as fast, and the uses for our phones are likewise increasing. More and more, they’re becoming devices we actually can consume various types of media on. Moreover, in many cases, expandable storage is no longer being included in phones (see iPhones, Nexus phones, HTC One phones), and our lives are increasingly found in the cloud. Consequently, online storage and backup is becoming more and more important.

Dropbox

Dropbox is the classic online sync service. 2GB of free space, with the ability to earn or purchase more. The app is pretty standard, providing the ability to upload and download, but not sync folders from the phone. It does, however, have an camera upload function, which will automatically upload newly taken photographs to a folder in your Dropbox–incidentally, enabling this feature is one of the ways to earn extra space. It also has built-in video streaming for files stored in your Dropbox on ICS or later devices.
Dropbox [link]

Box

Box is another online storage service, providing 5GB of free space. Much like Dropbox, you can upload or download files. There is no photo or folder sync capability for Box.
Box [link]

SugarSync

Yet another syncing service offering 5GB of storage, SugarSync distinguishes itself by offering a much more sophisticated app. You can view other devices you have registered, and it provides the ability to sync photos, videos, and folders. There is also the option to take a picture directly from within the app, and have it upload.
SugarSync [link]

Google Drive

Formerly Google Docs, it was rebranded and given the ability to store non-document files, providing 5GB of free space. The app includes built-in editors for documents and spreadsheets.
Google Drive [link]

Flickr

Everyone should know Flickr. Unsurprisingly, Flckr gives you the ability to take/upload/share photos, with effects and filters. Nothing special here in terms of sync or storage, just a dedicated app for the service. I never really used it much, but I figured I’d include it here for completeness
Flickr [link]

Google+

Google+ is included here because it offers the ability to automatically upload any pictures or videos that you take, and to take pictures for upload from within the app. It’s… y’know. An app for Google+, so it’s got contact sync and sharing capabilities and the like.
Google+ [link]

Backup, Part I

Most everyone knows the heartache of losing data in some form or another. Physical or digital, a hard drive crash or a housefire, there are things that no one wants to lose. Memories. Journals. Photos. Even a high score in a game. Backups are important.

Android has some built-in backup and restore functionality. Users can choose to disable this, but in most cases, it’s enabled by default–Google backs up some settings (such as stored wi-fi passwords), apps and app data to its own servers. Upon signing into your account on a new phone or a cleanly wiped phone, these are restored, with the intent of creating a relatively seamless experience. It works well enough, and

Android is largely centered around Google’s own offerings, such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Drive/Docs. The cloud is where Google excels. To a large extent, if you are Google-centric, there may be relatively little you’d need to back up, since most of your information is already stored in the cloud. Sign into your Google account, and your contacts, calendar, and gmail are synced (these and other things can be individually enabled and disabled for multiple accounts).

That being said, a phone is also a phone, and there are other things that one might want to back up, such as SMS/MMS messages or call logs. Moreover, you may want to have local backups in case you end up stranded somewhere without data coverage or wi-fi access. Sometimes, the backup/restore that’s baked in may prove insufficient. That’s where backup utilities come in.

Titanium Backup

Titanium Backup is the most well-known backup utility for Android. It’s versatile, solid, and will back up apps, app data, settings, and system data. It’s very powerful, and not only provides extensive backup/restore capabilities (multiple histories, multiple data profiles, batch, uninstallation, and scheduling), it also provides many other capabilities, such as syncing to popular online storage services (currently Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive), disabling/freezing apps, and movement of apps. The free version is very powerful, but for optimum performance and features, Titanium Backup Pro is a steal at less than $7. This was my first ever purchase from Google’s Play Store, and it’s been worth every penny many times over.
Titanium Backup [link] Pro [link]

SMS Backup+

For extensive users of Google’s services, SMS Backup+ is a very useful tool. It allows for backup of SMS messages, MMS messages, and call logs to your Google account, either manually or automatically. It also allows for restoration of SMS messages and call logs from the backup to your phone, should you lose them. It requires enabling of IMAP access to your gmail account, and you can customize the labels that are applied to the backups. Selective backup/restore is also available. While I use both this and the next item, this is my favored method of backing up the phone aspects of my phone. Since it syncs with your gmail, you benefit from Google’s excellent search, and furthermore, it continues to break down the divides between types of communication. Mail, chats, texts, and calls are all in one place, labeled and searchable. If you use Google Voice as well, even if only for voicemail (as I do), your voicemails can be there as well. There are a number of similar apps out there, this just happens to be the one I use.
SMS Backup+ [link]

SMS Backup & Restore

If you prefer local copies of SMS messages, SMS Backup & Restore provides solid options. It provides backup, restoration, viewing, and searching of SMS messages–automatic or manual, to the local storage or microSD card.┬áThe backups are stored in xml format, and may be split up or use a single archival file. Like SMS Backup+, you can perform selective backup/restore. It does not provide MMS or call log backup/restoration, but for most people, its capabilities are more than sufficient.
SMS Backup & Restore [link]

ROM Manager

Chances are, if you’re rooted, you’re familiar with ROM Manager. It is not, lestrictly speaking, a backup utility in and of itself. It was, however, created by Koush (Koushik Dutta), the author of Clockwork Mod Recovery, the most widely used custom recovery image for rooted/unlocked phones. More importantly, it interfaces with CWM to provide simple flashing of ROMs and backup/restoration management for nandroid images. That is–more or less a complete image of the the phone at a given time. Now, there are anecdotal reports of occasional issues with backups/restorations/flashes when ROM Manager is used instead of using the recovery interface. Personally, these days, I don’t use it for anything other than flashing a recovery image. However, it’s a good multipurpose app with backup, restoration, and flashing uses. I flashed my first (and many subsequent) ROM with it. It’s worth installing, especially for those new to flashing. There is a premium version available that has a few more features, and provides access to more ROMs than the standard version.
ROM Manager [link] Premium [link]

Notes

I’ll be covering cloud based and local storage later, including things such as photo or file sync. I do, however, use ADB, ES File Explorer, an Android Terminal Emulator, and/or MTP/CTP/UMS to tinker with files, especially in the /system partition.