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A popular solution for backing up user data on Android is MyBackup Pro. This is a simple and straightforward program that only costs $5, which is worth it if you care about your data.
- Home page: http://www.rerware.com/Android/
If you have root on your phone you also have the option for a free, simplified version of MyBackup Pro called MyBackup Root.
If you're serious about backing up your data, the tool to use is Titanium Backup. It is more-thorough about the details and configuration information it can access and back up so that it's easier to return your phone to a previous state with less effort. Note that this requires root to work properly. Be sure to pay the $4 for the full version... perhaps the best $4 you'll ever spend on your phone. It's really not worth being a cheapskate here.
- Home page: http://matrixrewriter.com/android/
- Knowledgebase wiki: http://matrixrewriter.com/wiki/tiki-index.php
Common Titanium Backup Questions
How do I store my backup onto the external SD card?
This is extremely important to ensure the safety and accessibility of your backup. In Titanium's preferences change the backup folder name to sd/TitaniumBackup (on Android 2.2 this should be external_sd/TitaniumBackup ). Don't forget to delete the existing backups and TitaniumBackup folder that is, by default, internal to your phone. Then create your "portable" backup.
Why does Titanium Backup say USB debugging needs to be enabled?
Titanium Backup does not need it, but does check for it, because older versions of the "Superuser whitelist" app (Superuser.apk) were misbehaving if that setting was disabled. The author is planning on adding a "disable USB debugging warning" setting in a future version of Titanium Backup.
Why does Titanium Backup need "Unknown sources" to be enabled? The Captivate doesn't even have this setting
This is needed by the free version only. In the donate version you can disable "Unknown sources". Since the free version isn't of much use and you really want to be using the full (donate) version, this is pretty much a non-issue.
In Titanium Backup, you can "freeze" apps to disable them without having to uninstall them (which can't be restored since Titanium Backup doesn't back up built-in system apps). When you use this feature, neither the app nor its data is changed but only how it's registered to the Android OS. This is preferred to uninstalling system apps as problems have been seen when stock apps are missing, such as system updates failing. Be sure to set the "Apps processing mode" to "AUTO, Indirect" in the Titanium Backup settings otherwise freezing an app can take an extremely long time to complete.
So which do I use?
Both are powerful tools. Titanium requires root, while MyBackup doesn't but works better if you have root at which point its feature set is closer to Titanium's. Titanium Backup recently added a nice new feature which allows for syncing your backup online with your Dropbox account. Ultimately which backup tool you use will come down to a matter of individual needs and personal preference. Try the free/demo versions of each out first and see which one works better for you.
Other data to back up
The above backup methods only back up the internal 2GB storage. They do not back up the internal 14GB which is treated like an SD card but isn't one really. This is the data beneath the sdcard/ directory (see the section on storage for more detail). As a result, you will want/need to separately back this data up somehow in the event that your phone is lost or damaged.
Luckily this data is easy to back up. You need only connect the Captivate to your PC via the USB cable and mount it (see the section on connectivity for more details). Your sdcard/ directory will appear as a new mounted drive on your PC, which you can then copy the files and folders out of and into a backup folder on your PC.
Backing up SMS messages
You can use the free app SMS Backup and Restore to accomplish this.
Advanced topic, experienced users only.
Another backup method is Nandroid. A Nandroid backup, instead of specifically backing up data and apps, is more of an "image" sort of backup akin to Symantec/Norton Ghost. This is actually a combination of tools, as Nandroid is not something you install by itself but is included as part of the ClockworkMod recovery image, which in-turn is best installed by utilizing ROM Manager. This convoluted install is required because in order to make a full image backup, the backup program needs to run outside of the normal operating phone OS. Pending a custom writeup of instructions for this site, you can find instructions on making backups with Nandroid here.
As easy as they are to install and perform, one has to be cautious about recommending the Nandroid backup method as getting it set up makes significant modifications to your phone. Not only do you require root (as with Titanium Backup), but the installation of the ClockwordMod recovery image modifies your stock boot loader on your phone to a custom one and so far I have not found a simple way to return the boot loader back to stock if one wishes to undo/uninstall this. The potential existing and future risks of this are unclear. Therefore, performing Nandroid backups should be considered an advanced topic for experienced users only, aware of the risks involved.