Best Practices for Backing Up Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are a common accessory for millions of Americans. In its annual "State of Mobile" report, analytics firm Flurry found that U.S. consumers are glued to their mobile devices for an average of five hours per day. If you're among the growing number of professionals who conduct business on the go, you probably understand that protecting data on your smartphone or tablet is just as important as protecting the data on your PC or server.

Choose a Backup Method

When it comes to backing up mobile devices, you essentially have two choices: choose an automated solution, or go the manual route. Most newer devices come equipped with built-in backup tools that automate the process of saving contacts, text messages, photos, emails, and app data. There are also standalone apps that unlock additional features such as the ability to schedule backups and sync data to the cloud. Manual backups are typically performed by connecting your device to a computer via USB and copying your data to a hard drive. This method offers the advantage of management flexibility as you can organize your files into folders and locations best suited for storage. If you save your phone data on an SD card, performing manual backups could be as simple as inserting the card into the memory card reader on your computer and archiving them to the destination of your choice.

Play it by Platform

The best way to back up your mobile data will be determined by both the OS and the device itself. By default, most Android devices back up email and contact data with Gmail and Google Calendar respectfully. Then there is Google's Pixel phone, which is configured to automatically back up and send text messages to the cloud with Android Messages. You could also take a more centralized approach with a single app that backs up all your critical mobile data. An all-in-one solution will make backups easier to manage as your data is stored in one location instead of having it spread across a multitude of servers.

Keep Storage Capacity in Mind

Most smartphones hold up to 64 GB in internal storage, while tablets typically max out at 256 GB. If you're running low on storage, you can obtain more space by either adding an SD card, or upgrading to an internal storage drive with a higher capacity. While more space also means more data you have to back up, there are advantages to upgrading. For instance, if the internal memory on your phone is somehow compromised, an SD card can serve as a backup medium for primary data storage. The card can also be removed for convenient archiving of your data.

Don't Get Too Cozy in the Cloud

The cloud offers a cost effective way to back up your mobile data. Most cloud services give you a decent amount of free space, with additional storage available in monthly and annual pricing plans. Whether on or offline, the cloud makes it easy to access files from your device. But for maximum protection, you should keep a copy of those same files in another location, preferably offsite. In the event that your device is compromised, your cloud account gets hacked, or the cloud provider suffers a security breach, keeping copies of your backups in multiple locations will make it easier for you to recover your valuable data.

Test Your Backups

Before getting too cozy, take the initiative to make sure your mobile backups actually work. It is not uncommon for preferences and other settings to reset following an update. And there's always the slim chance of something going wrong during the backup process, particularly if backing up a mobile device is not something you have a lot of experience with. Run a test drill where you delete and restore a couple of files to ensure that everything checks out. Even if you're familiar with the process, conducting periodic tests can provide invaluable peace of mind. For the most part, the same best practices of backup and disaster recovery (BDR) for desktops and servers also apply to mobile devices. Designating an optimal backup method, taking a multi-site approach to recovery, and testing your disaster recovery plan is equally important in both realms. Organizations of all sizes will need to give the mobile component of their business continuity strategy higher priority as the mobile revolution continues to grow.