Friday, March 15, 2013

iPhone vs Android - Backing Up (Part 3)

In our computer classes, we always talk about the importance of backing up your computer and most people are quite diligent about it (if you aren't consider this a slap on the wrist and check out our Clickfree backup products). However, think about it. Your Smartphone is actually a small computer, and contains a lot of valuable information. If you were to loose it, do you have your contacts and telephone numbers stored somewhere else. What about your photos, music or chat threads? Not to mention the apps you've purchased. Some of this information like your email can be retrieved from other sources, but a lot of it can't. Hence you see the importance of backing up your phone.

In this third part of the iPhone vs Android series, we're going to look how to backup each device and see how they compare.

iPhone / iPad Backup

One of the things that's beginning to emerge as we go through this comparison is that the iPhone tends to have a lot of functions built-in, whereas the Android requires you to add them on. It's a different approach with advantages and disadvantages of each. For backing up, you have two options with the iPhone. The first is to back it up directly to your laptop.

Backing up to your laptop

First, connect your iPhone to your laptop using the sync / charger cable. When you connect, iTunes should start (if you don't have iTunes installed, get it here). If this is your first time, iTunes will prompt you to register your phone etc. Once it's all connected, look for your phone on the sidebar on the left (if you can't see a sidebar, click on View / Show Sidebar). Click on your phone under devices on the sidebar which will then bring up the screen about your phone. From here you can update it, restore it to factory settings and back it up. On the lower right, click on Backup Now under Manual Backup. This will backup everything on your phone and save the data to a file (the first time you do this it will prompt you for a file name - give it one and tell it to save the file in a sensible place like a folder called Backups)! Once it's finished your phone will be backed up. If you loose it or get a new one, all you do is use the Restore Backup button.

Backing up to the Cloud

Perhaps you don't have a laptop or you travel without one (many RV'ers are now doing this). How are you going to backup? Easy. On your phone, go to Settings / iCloud, sign-in with your Apple ID (if you don't have one, create one - it will ask for your credit card in case you want to purchase some apps, it's safe to enter it in).

It will then display a screen which allows you to select what you want to be backed up. The top section enables the backing up of Apple's own apps (e.g. your contacts, calendar, Safari bookmarks etc. Photostream will backup your photos (more on this in a later section). Find my iPhone is a useful app for finding and securing a lost phone and I recommend turing it on. Scroll down and at the bottom you'll see Storage and Backup. Click on that and turn on iCloud Backup. Your phone will then backup all your selected data to the secure Apple servers. You can then later restore the data if you loose your phone, or (more usefully) access your data from anywhere by visiting the website.

Android Backup

Things are a little more complicated on the Android. You don't need to worry about your apps (you can always restore them from the Play Store), your Contacts or your Calendar as Google sync's them for you with your Google account. You just need to make sure that you have this feature enabled. On your Android phone, go to your Settings page or app, then scroll down to Personal / Privacy. Make sure that Backup up my Data and Automatic restore are checked. On older versions of Android, you may need to go to Settings / Personal / Accounts & Sync, select your Google account and then select all of the option boxes listed).

This still leaves the problem of your Photos, music, documents, screen layouts or chat threads. The simplest approach in my opinion is to spend $5 on an app called MyBackup Pro. This app will backup all of these and more to either their online servers, or your SD card. Bear in mind that if you backup to your SD card, you should take it out and put in a spare otherwise if you loose your phone, you will have lost your backup! Another useful app is Lookout which is mostly a security app but will backup your photos, contacts and call history (more on this app later).

If you want to do it the hard way, you can backup your photos with either the Facebook app, Dropbox, or Google+ Instant Upload (turn on in Settings / Google / Google+). If your really adventurous, you can manually copy your files to you computer by plugging in your phone (Windows) or using the Android File Transfer Utility (Mac).


Whether you have an iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet, it pays to backup. As I've shown, I think the Apple products have a simpler to use and more elegant solution for backing up, but, the Android does give you added flexibility. Point to Apple.

If this all bamboozles you a little, remember we have our TechnoGeek Learning Rally....

Note: All references are for Andoid 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean) and iOS v6.0