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Back Up, Sync, and Restore an Android Device

How to back up your device

You can back up your device to your Google account and to Lookout Mobile. Don't "root" your phone (that is, enable administrative access to its file system) because it could be compromised later by a third party.

To back up and sync your device to Google

Google doesn't back up everything on your device, and it doesn't offer an online page to manage your backups. Make sure your Google user account actually copied the contacts from your phone before you rely on it to restore them to your device.

If you don't have a Google account yet, set one up here. Depending on which device you own, you might be able to restore your contacts, wallpapers, and Wi-Fi settings to it through Google. Choose these settings on your device to enable syncing and backups:

Turn on backups: Choose Settings > Privacy and check the "Back up my data" and "Automatic restore" checkboxes.

Enable syncing: Choose Settings > Accounts and sync and determine which data you want to sync — for example, contacts, email accounts, and social media. Tap the entry for your Gmail account and you'll see additional options for syncing Contacts, Picasa Web Albums, and Calendar. Remember to turn off your carrier sync in Settings > Accounts and sync.

Use apps for specific backups: Some of the data on your Android won't get backed up by Google. For example, if you want to back up your SMS and MMS messages, use an app like "SMS Backup+". If you want to back up your photos to Flickr, there's an app for that, too.

These are the sync preferences that you can select for Google Sync

Check these Google sync preference settings in addition to the backup settings on your device.

To back up your device to Lookout Mobile

Lookout Mobile's free application backs up your contacts to its server, and you can manage your information on a device management page. Lookout Premium also backs up your photos and phone calls, and can transfer your data to a new device if you need to replace your original.

After you install and activate the Lookout Mobile app, register your account with You can schedule regular backups or perform a backup manually through the website.

Backing up with Lookout Mobile is a reliable option. You can control your backups through its web portal and keep the contacts on your phone separate from the contacts in your Google+ network and other Google applications. In addition, Lookout Mobile promotes security and does not require you to root your device to use it.

How to restore your device

Restoring from Google

Before you wipe your device, be sure that your phone's contacts are actually synced with your Google account. Google should restore them automatically after a device wipe.

Restoring from Lookout Mobile

  1. Go to and log in to your account.
  2. Choose Dashboard > Backup > Restore.
  3. Select the device you'd like to restore, and the data you want to restore by selecting its date and snapshot.
  4. Click the Restore button.

Lookout Mobile's Restore feature

Lookout Mobile can restore "everything" to your device, or restore selected files through the MyLookout Dashboard.

When you repair your device

If you send your Android in for repairs, back up your contacts to Google or Lookout Mobile, sync your Google email and calendar, and back up any other data to your SD card or to your computer.  Then wipe the device. Remove the SD card and keep it in a secure location until you get your device back. When you receive your repaired device, restore your data from the backup.

To restore your Android from a Google backup:

When you trade in your device

You should also wipe your device and SD card before you sell it, upgrade it, or give it to someone else.

To wipe your SD card: Choose Settings > SD card and phone storage > Format SD card.

Last modified August 8, 2013