Does anyone know what exactly does Google backup (and restore) when you enable that option?

Also, are we able to see this list somewhere? (Maybe hidden n-levels deep in Google Account information?)

Reason I ask is I've had the unfortunate experience of my SD Card dying on me, put in a temporary SD Card and allowed Google to do the auto-restore.

Some things that were restored:

  • Saved wireless networks
  • Background
  • Some apps - strangely enough only a subset of my apps were restored (some with data, some without). All previous apps were installed via Android Market.

Then finally got my new SD Card, put that in and the following were restored

  • Saved wireless networks
  • Some apps - again, same problem... only a subset (different subset, even fewer apps). This time no data seemed to have been restored either.

I think it would be very helpful to be able to view/manage a list of what is backed up, and thus would be restored (but I have yet to find this list... if it even exists).

  • I don't think Google backs up anything on your SD card, but even if it did, I'm pretty sure your wireless networks aren't saved there, and your background also isn't unless you use a picture from your SD card, so they wouldn't be affected at all by swapping cards. Do you have a lot of apps moved to your SD card? Nov 9, 2011 at 14:34
  • When I used the app restoring feature the last time I observed that some of the App downloads failed as they sometimes do in the Market. The problem is that the Market does not retry to download those Apps. Therefore after a restore you have to carefully check the notifications for failed downloads and retry them manually.
    – Robert
    Nov 9, 2011 at 18:57

3 Answers 3


For Honeycomb (Android 3.0+) devices, the official Android 3.0 (aka Honeycomb) user's guide says:

Page 13

Backing up and restoring your data


Many kinds of data are backed up, including:

  • Your Android settings, such as your Wi-Fi networks and passwords, user dictionary, and so on
  • Many Google application settings, such as your Browser bookmarks
  • The apps you download from Android Market

Some third-party apps also make use of the backup service, so if you reinstall one, its settings and data are restored.

Page 132

Back up my data Check to back up some of your personal data to Google servers, with your Google Account. If you replace your tablet, you can restore the data you’ve backed up, the first time you sign in with your Google Account. If you check this option, a wide variety of your personal data is backed up, including your Wi-Fi passwords, Browser bookmarks, a list of the applications you’ve installed from Market, the words you’ve added to the user dictionary used by the onscreen keyboard, and most of the settings that you configure with the Settings application. Some third-party applications may also take advantage of this feature, so you can restore your data if you reinstall an application.

As for your list of apps, you can easily see which ones are linked to your Market account by going to https://market.android.com/mylibrary

  • Ah yes, that seems about right (flashed my phone with custom ROM so do expect some discrepancies). Though I do really wish they had a list somewhere! Re the market mylibrary... that list doesn't correctly reflect what I have installed on my phone :(
    – pyko
    Nov 14, 2011 at 23:05

Nothing on your sdcard is backed up, unless you have app that syncs data between your sdcard and a "cloud service", like picasa for example which saves images on the sdcard and does "back up" to the picasa service.

Your apps are backed up, I don't know if the data is, but it could be as that would make sense to be something that is backed up. The reason you could see only a subset of apps restored could be issues with not being able to download them all at the point of restore. I have had that happen when I would flash a new ROM after a clean wipe and some apps did not automatically come back.

It also does back up settings like wireless network settings, again, you opt in to back up the data so if it has to be restored, it can be, and this would be something that, i would think, should be backed up.

There is no official (or unofficial) list, that I know of, of what is backed up. If turning on a feature to "back up your device" so it can be restored if needed, you should assume that it is going to back up all settings and app data. But it will not restore any information that is saved on the sdcard.

As eldarerathis mentioned, swapping sdcards should not cause a "device restore" from the "backup service", nor should your network settings or backgrounds or anything like that change. I can see it wanting to restore apps that you previously had installed on the old sdcard to the new sdcard but it shouldn't be restoring anything else on the device or sdcard.


In my experience, the answer is "almost nothing". See http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=17354

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