I’ve always considered myself to be an intensely organized and meticulous person and for the longest time I didn’t feel that backups were worth the effort. I mean, sure, people will accidentally delete their Word files or misplace their spreadsheets, but not me, right? Well, all it takes is one big accident to completely change your stance on backups. That’s what happened to me.
Our lives are incredibly fickle, more so than you might realize. Your college thesis? It could be corrupted or wiped clean with a single keystroke. Your coding project that you’ve been working on for the past year? A power outage can render it gone. And your phone? A toilet bowl mishap could spell the end for your contacts list, SMS messages, and other data.
If you’re running on Android, that last problem can be avoided extremely easily by using a backup tool to take an Android backup. There’s very little effort involved; one installation is all it takes. Here are some of the best FREE Android backup apps available on Android today.
Note: Some of these apps may require your device to be rooted. If you don’t know what that means or if you need some guidance, check out Ryan’s article on how to root your Android phone.
Carbon is an Android backup tool that does NOT require your device to be rooted. This is great for those of you who don’t want to go through the (small) hassle of rooting, or maybe you just don’t want to fiddle around with your phone too much in that way. Nonetheless, if you haven’t rooted, then Carbon is probably your best bet when it comes to backing up your data.
While Carbon can back up your apps – and it’s pretty darn good at it, by the way – it can also back up your SMS messages, phone call logs, and your texting dictionary. If you need a deeper, more comprehensive backup solution, you may need to look elsewhere (and root your device, too), but if this is all you need then Carbon will do you just fine.
In order to use Carbon without a rooted phone, you’ll need to run Carbon Desktop and follow the installation instructions here. The free version of Carbon is ad-supported and only allows backing up to the SD card and PC. The premium version costs $4.99 USD and allows automatic backup schedules, Android-to-Android sync, and cloud backups.
Easy App Toolbox is just as the name suggests: a box full of miscellaneous tools that help to make your life easier. One of those tools is the backup feature, which is easy to use and versatile depending on your own needs. It’s actually quite comparable to Carbon above, but packs in more features (like cloud access) without requiring a premium fee.
In terms of actual backing up, Easy App Toolbox can backup and restore your apps to various locations: Dropbox, Box.net, Google Drive, your SD card, or your PC. The entire backup process is fluid and intuitive. Unfortunately, Easy App Toolbox does NOT back up SMS or contacts or anything other than apps.
Easy App Toolbox does NOT require your device to be rooted. In addition, the app comes with an easy uninstaller that lets you batch uninstall apps. One cool feature that I can see coming in handy is the ability to send one of your installed apps to a friend through email or cloud so they can install it immediately.
There have been reports that Easy App Toolbox may have difficulty interfacing with Google Drive sometimes, but it can be fixed by clearing the app’s data and logging into Drive again.
For the longest time, Titanium was seen as the be-all-end-all backup solution for Android devices. I guess that’s to be expected since there weren’t many competitors back then. Nowadays, with so many viable alternatives, it has fallen off of my personal radar due to its antiquated interface and overly basic free version.
But if you want a free backup solution that doesn’t do much but has persevered throughout the years, Titanium is the one you want. It requires a rooted device and it can backup/restore your apps and app data in a jiffy. As far as the free version goes, that’s about it.
If you spend $6.58 USD to upgrade to the premium version, though, you’ll get dozens of awesome new features: multiple backups, app freezer, scheduled backups, cloud backups, encryption, and more. Honestly, if you’re looking for a free backup app I would look elsewhere, but if you’re willing to shell out some cash then Titanium may be worth it. Check out Erez’s post for a complete review and how-to for Titanium Backup.
My first impression of GO Backup is: cutesy. I’ve seen my fair share of Asian culture and that’s the immediate feeling I get from GO Backup. Color me surprised when I found out that the dev team behind all of the GO Android apps is indeed Chinese. I don’t often have good experiences with Asian apps, but this one is fantastic.
The free version of GO Backup has a number of great features: backups and restores for SMS, MMS, contacts, call logs, and apps. App backups can be done with both APKs and app data or just the APK. Also, GO Backup allows scheduled backups for free users, which is something that’s often hidden behind premium versions.
Upgrading to GO Backup Pro will cost you $4.99 USD and open up a lot of advanced aspects, like unlimited storage (200MB in free), cloud backup, backups and restores for system settings (ringtones, wallpapers, launcher layout, etc.), and app freezer. Upgrading can be done straight in the app.
On the Google Play page, the devs claim that Super Backup is the fastest data backup tool for Android. That’s interesting since I’ve never considered the act of backing up to be a very time-intensive task, but I guess it’s preferable to a slow backup. Either way, the app looks nice and packs a lot of punch for something that’s free.
What can you backup? Apps, contacts, SMS, call logs, bookmarks, calendars. Where can you backup? To the SD card, the PC, or Gmail. Some of these features require rooting, so make sure you do that beforehand. I’m impressed that Super Backup also allows scheduled backups for free.
The free version is supported by ads which weren’t very intrusive to my eyes, so that’s good. I really like that Super Backup doesn’t lock certain features until you pay for it. Everything is free and buying the premium version only gets rid of the ads. Nice! You can buy the premium version for $1.99 USD.
All of these Android backup apps are great at what they do. I docked points for various reasons, sometimes due to unpolished aesthetics, other times due to missing features or an unimpressive free version. None of them are perfect by any means, but they’re all worth a try. Here’s my ordering:
- Super Backup
- GO Backup
- Easy App Toolbox
- Titanium Backup
If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to share them with us in the comments!