smartphone file transfer concept of filesWhether you’re a loyal iOS user or you’re adamantly pro-Android, you may have recently upgraded your smartphone. Some of the biggest names in tech have put out new devices that have the smartphone-obsessed community buzzing, for better or worse. Regardless of if you’ve fallen in love with the newest version of your phone or are less than impressed, a new device means it’s time for an all-encompassing online backup and a reminder of how to do it safely. We’re giving all smartphone users a refresher course on how to safely back up their mobile devices, old and new, to avoid losing any important data in the process.

Back up selectively

One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to backing up a smartphone is that you need to back up the entirety of its contents. Not only does this waste precious storage space on your new phone since you’re saving stale information, photos, contacts, emails or music that you never actually access, but it also takes up space on your hard drive and cloud accounts, as well. While it’s a nice idea to be able to back up every last item on your phone (and definitely an option for those who want to do so), it’s not at all necessary. In fact, you can improve the speed and safety of your backups if you choose to be selective about what you’re copying. When you get a new phone, think of it as an opportunity to do some cleaning. Take this chance to sift through everything and weed out any file that you may not need anymore. Deleting extraneous data will make for a much smoother backup process, diminishing the chances of a mid-backup error.

Back up to both the cloud and a hard drive

Backing up a smartphone to another device is generally a pretty simple process, as the device itself will likely walk users through the process of plugging their old phone into a computer and backing up its contents. While this is certainly a decent first step toward a complete backup, smartphone users would be better off performing two separate (but complete) backups, one to their personal computer or external hard drive and the other to the cloud. Backing up your information to both locations will make it easily accessible from wherever you are, and if you set up auto backups of your most precious data, like your photos, the cloud can cover you in the event that your phone and computer or hard drive crash.

Check in on automatic backups

One of the best parts about employing an online backup service is that you can opt to have your smartphone perform automatic backups of select files on a regular basis. While this is indeed a welcomed feature and can definitely come in handy, it’s important for users to check in on their backups from time to time. This will not only ensure that everything is backing up correctly, but also help you keep your cloud organized by confirming everything is backing up to the correct folder on your cloud. To avoid any data loss surprises, be sure to also regulate the backups on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to confirm that the ones you set up are happening when and how you intended.

Create a strong password

A new phone is certainly exciting, but that excitement can quickly turn to disappointment if your backup is hacked because you were too lazy to update and improve your password when you backed up the new device for the first time. Just as you are protective of your new phone, you should be protective of the data being stored on it. We all know that the quality of our passwords is extremely important, but when it comes to our backups and online storage, the stakes are even higher. As such, you should make an effort to use strong passwords that follow the widely-accepted standard, meaning your passwords include at least six upper and lowercase characters, one number and one special character, and make sure you use different passwords for each service you use as well as change them regularly — at least once every six months. If you’re not sure how to create a strong password or have trouble remembering all of your different passwords, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a password manager.

Don’t backup using public Wi-Fi

It’s not only the “when” and “how” that’s important when it comes to your backup, but the “where” as well. While it’s tempting to perform a backup whenever it’s convenient, like when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or using the Internet on a flight, users should be sure to wait until they are using a connection they can trust, like their phone’s data or their secured home network. Backing up a new phone (or any phone) when you are using an insecure network is a recipe for disaster. First, using a foreign or unfamiliar Internet connection is risky in itself seeing as you cannot ensure that you will remain connected throughout the entire backup process, risking a mid-backup crash. Also, backing up your personal mobile device using an unsecured Internet connection is essentially serving up your personal data library to any and all hackers in the area. As you can see, when you are using a public network, your information is much more easily hackable, so to beat the risk, wait to complete your backup until you are using a secure network. It should be noted that those who want the ability to back up their phone at any time without using up all of their data, which is likely limited, may want to consider a virtual private network.

Getting a new phone is fun and exciting, but the responsibility that comes with having a smartphone does not exclude any new device. Performing regular, safe backups means knowing how the process works, when you should and should not employ your online backup service and what you can do as a user to make the experience as smooth and secure as possible. If you’re in the market for a new service, visit our online backup service reviews to see which one will best fit your needs.