How to Prevent Google Deleting Your Android Backups Without Warning

Nancy Messieh 06-11-2017

You may not realize this, but Google will delete automated Android backups without warning.


This realization came to light thanks to a Reddit post (first highlighted by Android Police) that explains exactly what’s going on. Reddit user Tanglebrook discovered this issue the hard way, after losing all the data from their Android phone backup.

Tanglebrook found out that if you don’t use your Android phone for a certain amount of time, your backup is deleted. Google explains in its support pages:

“Your backup will remain as long as you use your device. If you don’t use your device for 2 weeks, you may see an expiration date below your backup.”

Google doesn’t really go into much detail about the how and why of it, but it appears that the countdown is somewhere over 2 months.

How to Prevent Google Deleting Your Android Backups Without Warning Android Backup Google

The worst part is that Google will delete your data without warning and without giving you a chance to use your available Google Drive storage to hang on to precious backups. As if that weren’t enough, there’s no way to recover deleted backups.


So if you haven’t used your Android phone in two weeks, you can find out if that countdown has begun by opening up the Google Drive app and doing the following:

  1. Tap the hamburger menu button.
  2. Tap Backups.
  3. You’ll see a list of your backups. If your backup is expiring, you should see how many days are left for your backup to expire, as in the screenshot above.

It appears that using your Android device before that countdown ends should avert the crisis. While it’s understandable that Google wants to clean house when it comes to inactive accounts, a little warning would be nice.

To stay on the safe side, you might want to consider a third-party backup option How to Back Up Your Android Device Properly Here's how to completely back up your Android device by protecting your photos, SMS, contacts, and everything else. Read More for your Android device instead.

What do you think of Google’s backup practice? Is two weeks too short a window to activate the countdown? Do you think Google should notify users before deleting that content? Let us know in the comments. 

Related topics: Android Tips, Data Backup.

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  1. Suzybel
    November 15, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Funny I should be reading this after just going through the lost backup nightmare today. I was having problems with my phone so I did a factory reset. I knew I had a backup with Google drive and also a third party app. Guess what! The backup on google drive had magically disappeared and my third party app crapped out. Then to top it all off, my wifi went down just as I was trying to reinstall my apps ?

  2. steveb
    November 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Is the statement that " if you don’t use your Android phone for a certain amount of time, your backup is deleted" a little misleading - Surely if you use android on say your PC, tablet and phone and they are synced, the time would not be restricted to the last time you used your phone ?

    • rc primak
      December 9, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Probably correct. But if no one uses the account in the specified period of time, the deletion warning will appear -- only in the account! Catch-22 anyone?

      • steveb
        December 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm

        Highlighting 2 weeks is just sensationalism - the countdown gives 2 months of notice - How many people would not use their phone for 2 months, never mind any tablet, chromebook or other device with a google login - a line has to be drawn somewhere else google would be maintaining the backups of long thrown away / lost / destroyed etc phones.