Software

Five free Android apps for reliable backups

Even though your Android device features some built-in backup capabilities, certain items may still fall through the cracks. These five apps can keep that from happening.

Most Android users already enjoy a solid backup plan—whether they know it or not. Because the device is connected to a cloud account, much of the data is already backed up. Couple that with using a Gmail or IMAP email account, and email backup is just an account setup away.

But there are still bits and pieces of your device that may not get backed up. For example, the built-in backup process doesn't collect your phone-stored contacts, your SMS or phone history, some app data, or files stored on your device. When you have backup needs that default Android can't cover, where do you turn?

Here are five free apps that can easily pick up the slack.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: App Backup & Restore

Although restoring all your installed apps is as simple as going to the Google Play Store, tapping My Apps, and reinstalling what you want, you may sometimes want to have those apps backed up to an SD card so you can quickly restore them in batch mode. That's where App Backup & Restore (Figure A) comes in. With this handy app, you can select which apps you want to back up, and with a single tap, back up everything to either internal storage or to an SD card.

Figure A

Figure A
A

If your device doesn't support external SD card storage, you can always back up to internal, non-removable storage and then copy the folder to a cloud account. When it's time for restoring, copy the file back to internal storage and use the app to restore all your apps. App Backup & Restore is free, but it does include ads. There is an in-app purchase ($2.69 USD) to remove the ads from the app.

2: CM Backup

CM Backup (Figure B) by Cheetah won't back up your apps, but it will back up your contacts, messages, call logs, bookmarks, calendar info, alarms, and user dictionaries—all to the cloud. Now, before you get too excited, CM Backup does back up everything to a cloud.cmcm.com account, so you have to sign up. By signing up, however, you automatically get 5 GB of personal cloud storage.

Figure B

Figure B

Once you've signed up (via the app), you will be treated to a well-designed home screen that lets you quickly see what's available for backup. You can tap into a category and select exactly what you want to back up (if you don't want everything). You can also tap the Add button and back up a few extra pieces to the default (such as bookmarks, dictionaries, and photos). CM Backup is an outstanding choice if you don't mind backing up to a third-party cloud solution. Both the app and 5 GB of storage are free.

3: Easy Backup & Restore

Easy Backup & Restore (Figure C) is a simple backup solution. It can back up apps, SMS, selected folders, MMS, call log, calendar, bookmarks, user dictionary, and contacts. You can set up scheduled backups, which will save the backed up file to a cloud account or external SD card—or the file can be emailed. (You must set up an IMAP account to use this feature.)

Figure C

Figure C

The Easy Backup & Restore UI is quite well done and makes the configuration of your backups incredibly simple. This app also allows you to encrypt your backup (using AES-256 encryption) to protect your data from prying eyes. Easy Backup & Restore is free but does contain ads.

4: G Cloud Backup

G Cloud Backup (Figure D) is another solution that requires you to sign up for a cloud account. When you sign up, you get 1 GB of backup space for free, so if you opt to configure your backups wisely (i.e., leaving out pictures and music), you shouldn't have any problem staying within the 1 GB limit.

Figure D

Figure D

The interface is easy to use and offers what the app calls Memories. These are snapshots created and ready to be uploaded. These Memories will show you exactly what you've backed up and when. You can view Memories by date or even filter them by data type. Once a Memory is created, you must go to the Dashboard tab and tap Run Now to back up the Memory to your cloud account. This means you can back up any snapshot of your device you like. G Cloud Backup is free, but you can opt out of the ads with an in-app purchase (tap the X associated with an ad to be prompted for removal).

5: Super Backup: SMS & Contacts

Super Backup: SMS & Contacts (Figure E) is a dedicated backup solution for SMS, call logs, contacts, and calendars. It's simple to use, offers scheduled backups, allows you to back up to your SD card or Google drive, and offers notifications upon successful auto backup. You can back up each component manually if you'd rather not set up the scheduled backups.

Figure E

Figure E

Manual backups (and restores) are as simple as a single tap on one of the data types to be backed up. Super Backup is fairly basic, so anyone can use it. It does include ads, but offers an in-app purchase of $1.99 USD to remove them.

Other picks?

Tons of backup apps are available on the Google Play Store. Between the five above (along with the built-in Google account backup), you should be able to back up everything you need.

What's your go-to Android backup solution? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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