Back it on up with Android

If you own a computer, one of the most essential things youcan do is back up your data on a regular basis, because you never know whenyour hard drive might decide to give up the ghost. All your business documents?Gone. Precious digital photos? Forever lost. It can be a real tragedy.

Less is said about backing up your mobile devices, eventhough many users are starting to shun the desktop experience altogether. Now,not only does your phone carry most of your contacts, but it has a lot of yourdigital photos too. And since it’s very easy for your phone to slip out of apocket when you’re in a cab, it’s easier than ever to lose precious data.

There are a few ways to back up Android devices.

First up, you can use software provided by the manufacturerof your smartphone or tablet, where available: just connect your Android deviceto your computer using a USB cable, and launch the software. Not only can youback up data, but you can often manage updates from your computer, if you’re soinclined.

Even if your manufacturer doesn’t have dedicated softwarefor this purpose, you can generally put your Android into Media TransferProtocol mode (found in storage settings), allowing you access to the Android’sinternal storage when connected via USB. Then you can just drag-and-drop toyour computer…not ideal, but it’s an option.

Of course, a lot of Android devices have a slot for removableSecureDigital storage, for those who don’t want to juggle a USB cable. This makesit possible to back up important files to a removable card, and then use thatcard to copy the files to another device. While there are apps like Astro thatallow you to move files from internal to removal storage, typically speakingit’s a manual process. And it’s worth noting that not all devices haveremovable storage; indeed, the brand new Nexus 7 tablet doesn’t come with acard slot.

With the proliferation of cloud-based storage services, anew line of backup has started to open up: sending your documents directly intoa cloud service like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. This is handy because you canwork directly from the documents in the cloud drives. Even better, you can oftenuse the web interfaces for these services to roll back to previous versions ofdocuments, or retrieve documents that have been inadvertently deleted.

But there’s a catch: most of these free services don’t offerenough space to back up your entire Android device…you’ll have to upgrade toone of the paid accounts, if you want to do that. And again, backing things upto the cloud is often a very manual process.

Those looking for a more automated solution have often hadto root their device for full functionality, such as with the powerful appTitanium. While rooting an Android device is a relatively common thing thesedays, it’s not without risk, and average folks generally avoid it.

One recent app designed to make the backup process easier isClickfree, created by the same folks that brought you hardware backup productsfor your iPod. The Clickfree app backs up the important things on your Androiddevice, including your photos, music, vids, documents, applications, contacts, calendarand bookmarks.

You choose which of these categories you wish to back up,and then choose where to back them up(you can back them up to your removable storage, or to one of the cloudservices). Then, when you’re ready to back up, just go to the main screen andclick Start, and it will automatically back up everything in the categoriesyou’ve selected.

Of course, the same problem applies here when you’re optingto use cloud storage: if you only have the two gigabyte Dropbox package,there’s no way you’re going to back up everything from your 16 gig tablet. Soyou’ll either want to upgrade your cloud storage, or buy yourself ahigh-capacity microSD card (if your Android device can handle it).

That said, there are still some files that Clickfree won’thave access to, because they’d require root access. But if your main concern isbacking up your media, apps and documents (rather than every single system fileon the Android device), it’s got you covered.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Sean Carruthers
Sean Carruthers
Sean Carruthers is a freelance writer, video producer and host based in Toronto, Canada. Most recently, he was a Senior Producer at, where he was responsible for the conception, writing, production and editing of a number of web video shows, including Lab Rats, How Do I?, Status Update, The Noob, and more.

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