4 Android Phones In 4 Months


Over the last few months, I’ve had issues with the Pixel 2 line of phones which has led to a combination of replacement and changing devices back and forth all on Android devices. It is a true test of backups and data portability on a mobile device.

Android OS Backup

Android (8.1 at the time) has a built in backup to Google Drive. You can see the last backup by going to Settings > System > Backups and check it’s enabled. One thing that it doesn’t do is allow you to manually force a backup. If one of the items listed is stuck or says Waiting to backup I’m afraid you’re out of luck. I tried restarting the phone and it forced some to backup when it started back up but it’s not guaranteed.

There are alternative apps that will backup your SMS, phone history etc however I decided it was not important enough to go that extra mile.

In App Backup

Various applications have their own mechanism for storing and backing up their data. They can be triggered via accounts in Android (Settings > Users & accounts). Whilst there are a menu of accounts to sync, there is no way to force sync all the accounts on the device. Instead you will have to go into each one separately.

Another option are in side the app themselves. For example WhatsApp is in settings > Chats > Chat backup

Registered Devices

Remember to watch out for apps that have a registration limit. For example NowTV allow you to have a maximum 4 devices and you can only change 1 devices per month.

Other apps / services you should consider are banking apps,

2 Factor Authentication (2FA)

I have been using Google Authenticator which stores the rotating tokens to log into services that support it. I won’t go into whether storing 2FA codes on a server is a good or bad practice. To me, it’s a limitation and an annoying one having to regenerate codes (or in some badly implemented services, disable and enable 2FA) and add them to all my Android devices at the same time. I switched to Authy and so far haven’t looked back.

The exception is Steam which doesn’t seem to play nicely beyond Steam’s own


Photos are backed up primarily using Dropbox and then picked up on a computer for review. It is also backed up onto Google Photos because it has a better search and objection recognition compared to Dropbox. The problem with Google Photos is the desktop app doesn’t work and misses files or chews up memory so I do not rely on 1 service.

Music and Podcasts are streamed and cached offline so there is nothing to backup.


Barring a few niggles and adjustments the backups will get at least 80-90%. One of the restore did result in a bizarre factory reset but that was a one off. More manual control over the OS backup and flagging when backups fail.

About Danny

I.T software professional always studying and applying the knowledge gained and one way of doing this is to blog. Danny also has participates in a part time project called Energy@Home [http://code.google.com/p/energyathome/] for monitoring energy usage on a premise. Dedicated to I.T since studying pure Information Technology since the age of 16, Danny Tsang working in the field that he has aimed for since leaving school. View all posts by Danny → This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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