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Back-up plans matter for smartphones, too

By Mariah Smith
Extension Center for Technology Outreach

Image of Mariah Smith

Much like personal computers and 2-year-old children, Android smartphones can throw their own versions of temper tantrums. Mine recently slowed to a crawl and became increasingly unresponsive.

Before I decided to send it off to that great e-waste landfill, I made one last attempt to revive its broken spirit. To begin with, I turned it off, waited a few moments, and then turned it back on. While an obvious first step, most of us forget that our phones run constantly.

Next, I needed to back up any photos, movies or downloaded files that were saved to the phone. Data on smartphones can be backed up to a cloud storage service, such as Dropbox. However, if you have Google accounts, such as Gmail or Google+, many things are automatically backed up.

If using a cloud service isn’t your style, connect the smartphone to your computer. Go to the “My Computer” panel and locate the phone under removable devices. Move the necessary files from the phone to your computer like you would any other type of removable storage.

If your computer does not recognize your phone automatically, disconnect it from the USB cable. Next, tap “Settings/USB Settings” and change it to “Ask on Connection.” Reconnect the phone to the USB cord. The phone should ask if you if you want to use Kies or mass storage. Choose mass storage. Go back to your “My Computer” panel and double-left click on the removable disk. Your files should now be recognizable. If the computer still does not detect the phone, download a piece of software called Kies.

For some of us, it might just be simpler to download an app and let it do the work for us. Android apps such as My Backup Pro (free) and Titanium Backup ($6.58) are useful in backing up photos, text messages, calendar settings and much more. Apps such as App Backup & Restore (free) allow you to back up and restore apps used on your phone.

The iPhone users reading this are laughing to themselves as they learn the travails of backing up an Android phone. To back up an iPhone, all you need to do is install Apple’s iTunes onto your computer and create an Apple ID. Then sign in to iTunes with your Apple ID. Connect your iPhone (powered on) to your computer. Find the device icon for your phone on the left-hand menu and then left-click on that icon. In the menu options, select either “iCloud backup” or “back up to This Computer.” Left-click “Back Up Now.”

However, iPhone, iPad, iTouch and iPod users don’t have to use iTunes. They can use the iCloud backup service and bypass iTunes all together. To set up this backup process, go to “Settings” and choose iCloud. Scroll down until you see “Storage and Backup” and tap the button to open. Set the “iCloud Backup” option to on.

My little phone has been backed up; the data is safe and secure. The phone will live to fight another day. However, before you hit the swimming pool or beach this summer, be sure to back up the important data on your smartphone. While they are handy devices to have, they don’t swim well. Taking time to back up is easier on the wallet than purchasing a new phone or trying to reestablish your contact list.

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Released: June 6, 2013
Contact: Mariah Smith, (662) 325-3226

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