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.