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When the time comes to move to a new phone, you’ll probably feel an inevitable sense of trepidation. Sure, you’ll be excited to get your hands on a shiny new device, but how on earth are you going to move all your data over?

There’s so much to consider. You’ll have apps, customized settings, photos, contacts, backgrounds, downloads — it’s daunting. Even if you’re efficient, it can take a whole weekend to get yourself set up on a new handset.

But it doesn’t have to be so complicated. With a bit of planning, you can make the transfer a seamless experience. You just need to know which settings and apps to use.

Here’s how to make the process of moving your data to a new Android device as painless as possible.

1. Settings: Android Backup Service

The most important tool for ensuring an easy transfer is to use the Android Backup Service. It’ll save some of your most personalized settings to the cloud, including:

  • Google Calendar settings.
  • Wi-Fi networks and passwords.
  • Home screen wallpapers.
  • Gmail settings.
  • Display settings.
  • Language and input settings.
  • Date and time settings.

Some third-party apps will also be backed up, but it changes on an app-by-app basis. Not all apps are compatible.

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To turn on Android Backup Service, head to Settings > Backup and reset and make sure Backup my data is turned on.

android backup account

If you have more than one Google Account on your device, you need to select which account you want to use for saving the backups. Make your choice under Backup account.

When you turn on your new phone for the first time, it will ask you to enter your Google Account credentials. If the phone recognizes a backup on the servers, it will ask you if you want to use it. Tap Yes.

Manufacturer-Specific Features

Samsung users have access to a proprietary app called SmartSwitch Mobile. In addition to the data Android Backup Service saves, it will also move your text messages, phone logs, contacts, and email accounts.

Sony users can try Sony Xperia Transfer, HTC offers the HTC Transfer Tool, and LG provides LG Bridge. They all perform a similar function.

Remember, because they are all proprietary features, they are only useful if you’re switching to another phone from the same manufacturer.

2. Photos: Google Photos

There are a number of apps you could use to move your photos from one device to another. OneDrive and Google Drive Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More will both suffice, as will some manufacturer-specific apps. However, the easiest and most streamlined approach is to use Google Photos.

Not only does the Picasa replacement Picasa Is Going Away: 11 Apps That You Can Use Instead Picasa Is Going Away: 11 Apps That You Can Use Instead Read More sync photos between all your devices (mobiles and tablets), but since mid-2015, Google has also offered a desktop uploader. It means any images on your various computers will also be accessible on your phone, thus making it the best holistic tool available.

android backup google photos

First, make sure all your photo files are being backed up. Be careful! You might have several device folders (such as Camera, WhatsApp Images, Animated GIFs, Screenshots, etc). You need to manually turn on backup for every folder whose contents you want on your new phone.

To backup a folder, open Google Photos and go to Menu (three horizontal lines) > Settings > Backup and Sync > Back up device folders. Slide the toggle next to each folder you want to keep.

When you log onto your new phone, all the photos you backed up should instantly be viewable in the app.

DownloadGoogle Photos (Free)

3. Passwords: LastPass

Android phones offer a feature called Smart Lock for Passwords. The principle is sound; Google keeps your app passwords on its own servers. When you reinstall the app on a new device, the phone will recognize it and pre-populate your username and password. Unfortunately, the feature requires developers to build the associated technology into their apps, and many haven’t done so.

Of course, Chrome can also save your passwords, but it’s not good practice to store passwords in a browser Browser Autofill Is a Privacy Risk: Here's How to Turn It Off Browser Autofill Is a Privacy Risk: Here's How to Turn It Off Autofill is a convenient browser feature, but a big exploit was recently found that could result in you giving away more info than you thought. Here's how to disable it and stay safe. Read More . It won’t have the same standard of security as a dedicated password manager.

My favorite dedicated password manager is LastPass, but there are lots of great options 5 Best LastPass Alternatives to Manage Your Passwords 5 Best LastPass Alternatives to Manage Your Passwords Many people consider LastPass to be the king of password managers; it's packed with features and boasts more users than any of its competitors -- but it's far from being the only option! Read More to choose from.

The best part of using a password manager is they require very little setup. Just install the app on your new phone and you’ll have all your credentials on-hand immediately.

DownloadLastPass (Free)

4. Messages: SMS Backup & Restore

Yes, SMS and MMS are now ancient technologies, but a surprising number of people still use them. If you rely on the aging communication method, you might have valuable information tucked away in your message history.

The most reliable way to move the data to a new phone is to download SMS Backup & Restore. It does exactly as the name suggests: you can backup your messages on one device Don't Lose Your Data: 5 Top Backup Solutions For Android Don't Lose Your Data: 5 Top Backup Solutions For Android Everybody needs to back up their data in case something happens to their device. Protect yourself with these amazing backup apps. Read More and restore them onto another. Obviously, you’ll need a copy of the SMS Backup & Restore app on both devices.

sms backup android

The app also lets you send backups to your preferred cloud storage provider, choose which specific messages to backup, and schedule recurring backups.

And remember, if you’ve joined the instant messaging revolution and use WhatsApp, it’s easy to move data onto your new phone. Just fire up the app and go to Menu > Settings > Chat backup and tap on Backup.

DownloadSMS Backup & Restore (Free)

5. Personal Data

You can manually move any data on your phone that doesn’t fall into one of the prescribed categories. You might have to do this if you have audio, old podcasts, or important documents saved in random folders on your device.

First, use a file explorer The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android The 7 Best Free File Explorers for Android There are a bunch of file management and file exploring apps out there for Android, but these are the best. Read More to check the folders on your phone. If there’s content you want to salvage, you have two options:

  • USB Cable — You could use a USB cable to transfer the data from your phone to your computer, and then from your computer into the same folder on your new device.
  • SD Card — If your phone has removable SD card, you can move data onto it, then transfer the card to your new phone.
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6. Third-Party Tools

Finally, if all these steps sound like too much hassle, you could try using a dedicated app from the Google Play Store. The best app for non-rooted phones is arguably Helium.

Helium will backup and sync your apps and your data to the cloud. It works with multiple devices, and you can restore your data with a simple click. You’ll need a copy of the app on both phones and your computer desktop.

In addition to your apps and settings, the app will sync your contacts, SMS, various user accounts, Wi-Fi settings, and call logs.

DownloadHelium (Free)

How Do You Move to a New Phone?

Of course, moving all your data is only one part of switching to a new phone. Even if you transfer everything, there are still lots of steps you need to take on your new device How to Set Up Your New Android Phone How to Set Up Your New Android Phone Just purchased a brand-new Android phone? Let us walk you through how to set it up, including some of the best tips that the phone doesn't show you. Read More before you can confidently say it’s ready to use.

I’ve shown you a few different ways to migrate your data, but there’s no one way that’s objectively the best. A lot of it depends on how you use your phone and how much of your data you want to migrate.

What apps made it easy for you to move to a new device? Do you prefer leaving everything on your old phone and starting with a clean slate? As always, you can leave all your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Image Credits: PILart/Shutterstock

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  1. likefunbutnot
    May 31, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Going to play.google.com or to the appropriate page on Amazon, users can actually deploy software to their devices rather than manually adding apps through the Store interface. This is a huge time saver if you frequently switch devices.

    It's also nice to know that even things like the Dialer, Contacts and Calendar apps can be swapped for those from other devices; I use the Asus dialer no matter what brand of phone I'm on.

    Android Debloater is a desktop application that can easily kill Device or Carrier Mandated Apps, such as the NASCAR software Sprint thinks should be on my phone. While not a data transfer tool, it's nice to know about, especially on a new device

  2. jbelkin
    May 31, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    are there people who actually want to transfer data from one android to another? I thought people just tossed them and spend $29 on another running the latest 2014 teco version of android?