If you’re a new Windows Phone 8 user, you might not be aware that the platform has the built-in ability to do auto-backups of various pieces of data. The backup of the platform is linked to the live.com account created (or configured) during the initial setup of the phone. Once you have the phone up and running, you can determine exactly what it is that you backup.

Unfortunately, the list of things you can back up with your Windows Phone 8 isn’t very extensive. It includes the following items:

  • App list & settings
  • Text messages
  • Photos

There are also a few apps you can install to get your contacts backed up to your SkyDrive. But first, let’s walk through the process of backing up the built-in features.

Connecting the account

Before we do this, make sure that you’re connected to a SkyDrive account. To do this, you’ll need a Microsoft account. Next, associated your phone to your account. Here’s how:

  1. Slide the home screen to the left
  2. Scroll down and tap Settings
  3. In Settings, tap email+accounts
  4. Tap add an account
  5. Tap Microsoft Account
  6. Tap Next
  7. Fill out the necessary information (Figure A)
  8. Tap sign in
  9. When prompted for the backup, tap yes

Figure A

The Verizon-branded HTC Windows Phone 8.

Configuring the backup

With the account properly set up, you now need to configure the backup. To get to the backup settings, do the following:

  1. Slide the home screen to the left
  2. Scroll down and tap Settings
  3. Scroll down and tap backup

You should now see the backup settings window (Figure B).
Figure B

Tap one of these to enable and configure.

Each of the backup “pieces” will have its own set of options. Here are the specifics:

  • App list+settings: Enable/disable
  • Text messages: Enable/disable of Text messages, SMS delivery conformation, MMS delivery confirmation, Send MMS acknowledgement
  • Photos/videos: Don’t upload, Good quality, Best quality (needs Wi-Fi)

You must go into each section and enable what you need. Unless you performed a backup during the initialization of the phone, all backups will be disabled.

Backing up contacts

As mentioned earlier, there isn’t a built-in means to back up your contacts. In order to do this, you’ll need to install an application. One solid app is called Contacts Backup. Here’s how to install this app.

  1. Tap the Shop tile
  2. Tap the search button
  3. Enter “contacts backup” (no quotes)
  4. Tap the entry for Contacts Backup free
  5. Tap Install

Once it’s installed, Contacts Backup will be listed in your apps window (slide the home screen to the left). Tap the launcher for the app to reveal the easy setup (Figure C).
Figure C

You can backup both Hotmail and Google contacts.

Enable the contacts you wish to backup, and then tap the SkyDrive button to connect to your SkyDrive account. Once you’ve entered your credentials, you’ll need to give the application permission to access the account. With that done, go back to the Contacts Backup main screen and do the following:

  1. Tap the Backup button
  2. When the backup completes, tap the SkyDrive button
  3. Tap the Upload button (Figure D)

Figure D

The Upload button will not appear until you’ve successfully created a backup.

You can also download the backup file to a desktop computer. In order to do this, the phone must be on the same network as the desktop (Wi-Fi). To download the file, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your phone to the same wireless network as the desktop (Wi-Fi)
  2. Open Contacts Backup
  3. Tap the Backup button
  4. Tap the Download button
  5. On your desktop, point your browser to the address shown in the Contacts Backup application (Figure E)

Figure E

One caveat to Contacts Backup is that it does not offer an automated option – so you will have to manually run this backup when needed.

The above will download a zip file called wp contacts backup. When you unzip that file, you’ll have a vcf of your contacts.

Although the Windows Phone 8 isn’t as flexible as the Android platform, it does offer plenty of features — backups being one of them. Configure these backups to ensure that you don’t have to start from square one if your device is ever lost or damaged.

Do you have any tips for backing up your Windows Phone 8? Please share your experience in the discussion thread below.