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I'm starting to use Google Authenticator for more and more things now, but I've just realized that if I lose my phone, or if I need to wipe and restore it to install new firmware, I will lose all of my codes.

Is there anyway to back them up please? Or some kind of fallback that means I can restore it to a new device?

Thanks

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I don't understand... A code is to be used only once, they aren't stored anywhere on your phone, if you need to enter a code on a site, you have to use a new code, even if you already put one on this site some time ago. –  Shywim Feb 11 at 9:08
    
Thank you, but as I understand it, if I lose my phone now, I won't even be able to login to the site, let alone setup a new Google Authenticator code –  Nick Feb 11 at 9:31
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If you need a code to log-in while your phone is lost, you can use one of the backup method (SMS, Call, printed codes...). It is highly recommended to setup at least one of these alternative method to overcome this kind of situation :) –  Shywim Feb 11 at 10:09
    
I've always wanted to fork Google Authenticator to add this feature. I'm hoping somebody will do it before I have the time. –  Michael Kropat Feb 11 at 15:27
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2 Answers

You don't need to back up the Google Authenticator app/data as you can create a list of 'Backup codes' which you can use to log in without requiring a authentication code on the same page that you configure 2-step authentication.

Why print or download backup codes?

Backup codes are especially useful for people who travel, have problems receiving SMS or voice calls, or cannot use the Google Authenticator mobile app.

Recommendation: You should print or download backup codes

Store these in a safe place (or print them out) and if you lose your phone you can use one of these codes to log into your account and set up a new device with the Authenticator app.

Whilst this applies to Google's 2-step-authentication, any other sites you have configured to use the Google Authenticator app should offer a similar option, or another way to receive codes (e.g. Facebook supports Google Authenticator, their own app and sms as methods to receive codes).

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Many thanks, so effectively I could create my own backups then, by saving a copy of the QR code used to setup Google Authenticator for each site too? –  Nick Feb 11 at 10:12
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I don't know... I expect that they are time/use limited so wouldn't work more than once or after a period of time. –  bmdixon Feb 11 at 10:16
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For the sites that don't offer it then i'd say that your only option is to use a strong unique password without 2 step authentication. Out of interest, what sites don't offer a backup option? Dropbox, Facebook, LastPass, Wordpress all do (those are the other sites I use 2 step authentication with). –  bmdixon Feb 11 at 11:38
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@Nick: Saving the QR code that Google or other sites provide and adding them back into Authenticator on another device does work. I have done this a few times myself. However you should make sure that the time is correct and up to date constantly on both devices (if you intend on keeping using both of them) otherwise authentication might fail. –  Andris Feb 11 at 12:57
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The two-factor authentication "one-time" password is generated with two things: the current time, and a secret shared between the server and the app during the initialization. In your case, the secret is the QR code. As long as another instance of the authenticator app shares the same secret and the same time (the same 30s frame), both apps will generate the same passwords. –  Kernald Feb 11 at 15:55
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Titanium Backup (link to Google play store) will backup any android app, including Google Authenticator. However, you must root your phone for this to be a viable option.

I would also recommend printing the Google backup codes too. This isn't quite backing up the Google Authenticator app, but they would allow you to reset the authenticator if necessary. This would only help for regaining access to your Google account though.

Backing up the app with Titanium Backup is the most complete option, in my opinion. It's saved me on a number of occasions.

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