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I ran into a serious SMS bug, which knowledgeable users seem to be saying means the SMS message database is corrupt (source 1, source 2). This is consistent with my current experience. In my case I lost all ~1000 messages and still have some issues after that.

So I want to factory reset my phone. While I have not rooted my phone, I have performed significant customization, and have somewhere around 150 apps installed, including a few paid apps (UltimateJuice, ...). What things do I need to explicitly backup? What can I do to minimize the pain? I don't care about save points in games.

Surprisingly, I cannot find any good documentation of this using any obvious Google search terms. (I am aware of How do I perform a full pre-rooting backup of an Android phone?, which doesn't really offer an answer to my question.)

For Google cloud things such as contacts, do I need to backup the cloud version just in case, so the phone doesn't wipe them from the cloud? Fortunately, most of my personal notes are stored in cloud applications like Catch and Evernote. I presume these should be unaffected.

As far as I can tell the BackupMySettings option is not available for my phone (Samsung Epic running 2.1). My paid apps come back from Market anyway, right? I guess I could pay $4 for MyBackupPro if it really made things simpler, but there would need to be some way to NOT backup the corrupted SMS database files. Also I am assuming carrier-bundled apps such as Swype will automatically work.


P.S. I have Marigold Android Backup and backed up to the SD card (except SMS/MMS). I also have mIQ but I'm not sure I trust that to do a restore. Factory resetting the phone will not affect the SD card, correct?

P.P.S. I have AppBrain. Is that automatically remembering all apps I have on the phone, so it will suggest installing all of them if I just install AppBrain? Or will it only do that for apps installed through AppBrain?

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You don't need to backup your "cloud" contacts. –  Matthew Read Feb 5 '11 at 2:27
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

AppBrain will make it easy to restore your apps. After the reset, install AppBrain first(ish) and use it to get back all the apps you had before. (Sync before you reset.)

Market will remember your paid apps so you'll be able to get those without having to repay.

Your Google app data (e-mail, contacts, calendar) are backed up to the "cloud" already, so you shouldn't have to do anything special with them. If you REALLY want to you could export them to a CSV file, but you shouldn't have to.

You probably don't need to, but I would copy the contents of the SD card to a temporary location. Just in case.

As for other apps that keep data only local...I can't speak to those. I know that for myself everything important has a backup somewhere else. (Yay Dropbox!)

Unfortunately (or, actually, fortunately), I don't have any personal experience with a factory reset. Everything I've read says that it's really not that bad, excepting those apps that don't have dynamic storage strategies.

Good luck!

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While you're not currently rooted, then, assuming you can get your device rooted, I can recommend Titanium Backup.

The basic version is free, and allows you to back up whichever apps and settings you want to your SD card.

I have used this myself when upgrading from 2.1 to 2.2, and it kept every single app setting in the condition it started.

If this sounds interesting, an easy and painless way to root your device, is by using z4root, which lets you one-click root on a lot of devices, including the Galaxy S, which Wikipedia tells me the Epic 4G is a variant of.

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For Google cloud things such as contacts, do I need to backup the cloud version just in case, so the phone doesn't wipe them from the cloud?

If you set your contact list to sync with Gmail's contact list, you do not need to backup your Gmail's contacts list; just like every cloud-based services you would need to change how you think about where data is stored, Gmail's contact list is NOT a backup of the phone's Contact list, the Gmail's version is the primary reference copy and the phone's contact list is just a local cache of the online version.

Unfortunately (or, in your particular case, fortunately), SMS storage is not a cloud service. If you do a factory reset, you lose all your SMS messages. Therefore, you need to do manual backup of your SMS messages. There are multitudes of SMS backup apps in the Market, both free and paid; I don't know which ones plays wells with the SMS bug since I don't experience the bug myself.

Hard resetting the phone will not affect the SD card, correct?

Yes. Your SD card is your own data, Android will not touch the SD card in any way when doing factory resets.

My paid apps come back from Market anyway, right?

Yes, Android Market purchases are tied to your Gmail account, and you should not need to repay any of your paid apps as long as you used the same account. However, if you purchased apps outside of Android Market, you may need to contact the developer of those app or the alternative market where you made the purchase and ask their policy on this.

P.P.S. I have AppBrain. Is that automatically remembering all apps I have on the phone?

Yes, including those you install directly from the Market. Just make sure you sync your app list with AppBrain before you do a factory reset.

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Well, Titanium Backup is a great choice for you. Besides that you can backup your data, settings and APN to some safe place or move them to your SD card. Although, it is not necessary don't keep your SD card in while doing a factory restore. As mentioned earlier, your data is already stored in Google Play account, so you do not need to pay multiple times for the app you purchased. The other issue would be backing up games and other data so you do not have to start from the scratch.

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Factory restore? Do you mean "factory reset"? –  Izzy Mar 25 '13 at 9:15
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