Android has really missed the boat on one thing that iTunes and iCloud do really well. That is the Android eco-system doesn’t have a built-in, seamless solution for restoring a device from scratch.
There is no universal way to backup and restore Android’s home screen and your phone’s application organization, your application data and settings, photos, videos, messages, ringtones, miscellaneous phone settings, etc.
What this means is it’s a pain and potentially time consuming to rebuild your phone or tablet every time you buy a new Android, your current phone dies because you dropped it, or if you have to switch over to a replacement. The issue is further compounded by the fact that some apps prevent you from saving them to an SDCard. I’m not sure if this is intentional or simply an oversight by the developer when they configured the application for uploading to Google Play.
Third party apps have jumped in to try and fill the void. Many take a really good stab at addressing the issue, but the solutions and their features can be a hodge-podge. Some, such as Titanium Backup, require you root your phone which many people are wary of because it voids any warranties. Others, such as App Backup & Restore, aren’t able to back up the application data and that means all your settings are lost.
I would trade a well-done backup and restore functionality from Android for any new gimmicky feature or pseudo-incremental improvement. Universal back up and restore would be a huge bonus for the entire Android community.
I’m amazed by how many developers don’t image or clone their machines. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me “oh man, I wasted almost an entire day rebuilding my system”. I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: it doesn’t have to be that way!
Simply backing up the file system on your machine helps when you need to restore various files. But…if your hard drive fails you still have to reinstall all software and reconfigure everything. And, I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g: IDE’s, browsers, fiddler, plugins, and any application or operating system updates. This can be very time consuming and a real time waster.
An image or clone is a complete snapshot of your entire system at a point in time. Here’s an online article that explains what this means. I recommend using a combination of daily file backups and system snapshots. Rebuilding your system is as simple as copying over the image/clone/snapshot onto a new hard drive, and then reloading the latest file system backup. On my current machine that takes about 45 minutes or so to completely restore my system. So, the last time my hard drive failed, I plugged in the new drive then went and got a cup of coffee. The imaging software does all the hard work of rebuilding my system back to nearly the exact state it was in peviously.
On my physical machines I typically use Acronis. But, there are other choices out there, such as Ghost. On my Virtual Machines I simply create a clone once every week or two, or more often if I load a major operating system update.
Hard drives do fail. So, don’t let a simple failure ruin your productivity.