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Google may delete your Android backups if you don't use the phone for 2 weeks

Android users must keep their devices active if they want to guarantee the safety of some of their data backups.

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Android users who go two weeks without using their phone may find the personal data backups wiped by Google, according to the company's policy on managing backups.

While the policy isn't necessarily new, it was recently brought to light by Reddit user Tanglebrook, who detailed their experience with the feature in a post on the website. It all started when Tanglebrook began looking for an Android replacement phone after returning Nexus 6P.

While without an Android device, the post said, Tanglebrook was using an old iPhone in the interim. Soon after, Tanglebrook noticed that the 6P backup was missing from the Google Drive Backup folder where it was previously stored. Something was definitely wrong.

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After contacting Drive support, Tanglebrook's fears were confirmed: The backup was gone. All of the Android settings, Wi-Fi passwords, and data from 50 or so apps on Nexus 6P were gone forever.

This is the kicker, Google never formally alerted Tanglebrook. Apparently, the policy only displays an expiration date for a given backup on the backup itself, once Google decides to wipe it.

"Your backup will remain as long as you use your device. If you don't use your device for 2 weeks, you may see an expiration date below your backup," Google's support page reads.

Even stranger is that Tanglebrook, who claims to be a paying Drive customer, didn't have an option to use the 100gb of their Drive storage to keep the backup, the post said.

However, this isn't just an Android issue. Apple has a similar policy, and will also delete older iOS backups, as noted by another Reddit user, are-you-really-sure, in a comment.

If you are planning on not using your iOS or Android device for a while, be sure to check the expiration date on your backups and consider storing an extra backup locally just to be safe.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Google will delete Android backups if the device hasn't been used in a certain amount of time, as the company has noted in their policy.
  2. According to Reddit user Tanglebrook, there also is no option available to use paid Google Drive storage to maintain older backups either.
  3. Apple also deletes old backups, and users should check their backup dates if they plan on not using their phone for a while.

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