TIME TO READ: 5 Minutes
Mobile phones are easily lost, stolen, or damaged. What’s worse, in the case of iPhones, they occasionally “reset” themselves, locking out the user and causing a complete loss of data and images.
Nobody wants that to happen!
If your company relies on mobile phones to conduct business, then backing up those phones becomes a business necessity.
Here are the best methods to back up your mobile phones and ensure that when the worst happens, you only lose the hardware—not the data.
Backing Up Apple Phones
Apple provides automatic backup methods for iPhones and iPads via Apple iCloud, or directly to your Mac or PC. You can install both options easily when setting up a new device.
- Stores encrypted backups of your phone data to the cloud
- Offers up to 2TB of storage (with an Apple One Premier plan, you can get up to 4TB)
- Lets you create and use backups from anywhere with Wi-Fi
- Stores phone backups to the user’s Mac or PC
- Storage depends on the Mac or PC's available space
- Offers encrypted backups (but it’s off by default)
- Lets you create and use backups from your Mac or PC
- Can be configured to automatically backup when the phone is on the network with the backup device
Want to add automatic backups to an Apple mobile device after initial setup? Use the Apple iTunes app. Open iTunes and click the phone icon. You should see a “Backup” row with options for setting up backups to your local PC/Mac, or iCloud.
“Automatic” is the key here. You want backups to take place with zero effort. With iCloud, this is the default, but it’s not with a local computer.
Pro Tip: You can configure a local backup process to happen whenever a team member connects to the company’s Wi-Fi. A few solutions for this exist, such as Rsync, but you may need to buy a client app.
Finally, a note on security—if you want to back up passwords, Wi-Fi settings, website history, or healthcare data, you'll need to encrypt the backup. In iTunes, you’ll see a checkbox in the Backup row titled, “Encrypt local backup.”
Where is Your iCloud Backup Stored?
Apple maintains datacenters throughout the world. Several here in the U.S., as well as Denmark and China.
That said, Apple hasn’t published a complete list of all iCloud backup locations. The closest datacenter to you geographically is the most likely, but nobody can guarantee that.
We bring this up as a reminder – If you don’t know where a backup is, you don’t have control of it. Make another backup to a location you do control.
Say a team member dropped their iPhone. It’s dead; no saving it. They’ll need a new phone. How do you restore the backup to the new phone?
On a PC: Use iTunes
- Connect the phone to your PC.
- Click the icon of your phone and select Restore Backup.
- When the dialog box pops up, look at the time and date to make sure you have the correct backup selected.
- If not, click the drop-down menu, pick the backup you want to restore, and then click Restore.
- If the backup was encrypted, you’ll now need to enter the encryption password. iTunes will then start restoring your phone.
- Sign into your phone when prompted. After the process finishes, sign in again. The phone may need a few minutes to re-upload apps & data.
On a Mac: Use Finder (or iTunes)
- Connect your iPhone to your Mac.
- Open Finder.
- Click your phone under Locations.
- The first time you do this, you will need to click the Trust button on Finder. You must also tap Trust on your phone and enter your passcode.
- To restore your phone from the backup, click Restore Backup.
- Choose the correct backup from the drop-down menu and click Restore.
- Wait for the restore to complete and then sign back into your phone.
Backing Up Android Phones
You can back up content, data, and settings from your Android phone to your Google Account. You can restore your data backup to the original phone, or to another Android phone. This is true for most Android devices, including those from different
manufacturers (Samsung, LG, Google, etc.).
However, don’t mix business and personal data. You can't back up when you set up a work profile on a personal device.
To set up Google’s backup on Android phones:
- Open Settings.
- Tap Google, and choose Backup.
- You'll see the available storage listed at the top.
- Below that, you should see an option that says Backup to Google Drive with a toggle next to it. Make sure it is toggled on.
- Below that you should see a Back Up Now button. Tap it.
- The bottom section will show details of your backup as it progresses.
The best way to backup Android devices to a PC or Mac, is to use third-party backup app. Examples include Android File Transfer (for Macs) and Link to Windows (PC).
Where is Your Android Backup Data Stored?
Android phone backups reside on Google servers, and their encryption uses Google Account passwords. For some data, the backups encrypt using the phone's screen lock PIN, pattern, or password. (It’s a good way to match your credentials to the backup
Google maintains datacenters in the U.S., Chile, Singapore, Denmark, Finland, Taiwan, and many more. Samsung keeps datacenters in South Korea, the U.S., Germany, Egypt, and more. Depending on the security required around your data, you may
want to opt out of this cloud backup method.
Your backup data (except what you back up to Google Photos) is erased if:
- You don't use your device for 57 days
- You turn off Android backup
Android Phone Restores
When you add your Google Account to your Android phone, what you previously backed up for that Google Account gets put onto the phone. The process can take up to 24 hours.
Important: You can't restore a backup from a higher Android version onto a device running a lower Android version.
3 Best Practices for Business Phone Backups
- Make two backups. Even if you use Apple iCloud or Google’s cloud backups, you should maintain a local backup on your PC or Mac. This way you have two sources for restoration. (If your PC or MAC is also backed up to the
cloud, then you meet the requisite three backups which IT Pros insist on having.)
- Take advantage of existing cybersecurity. If your phone data requires extra security, the most secure method of phone backups is to a local computer + cloud backups of that computer to a small regional datacenter.
- Test your backups! Like all device backups, a phone backup can fail, get corrupted, or even disappear. Have your IT department or consultant run “stress tests” on your phone backup accounts at least twice a year. This
way you know that, if someone’s phone dies, the backup is secure and waiting to be restored.
Need help devising a secure, reliable strategy for your company’s phone backups? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.