Smart phone with cloud and arrow, representing back up to the cloud storage.

How I back up my mobile devices

How to protect your data and settings in case your iPad suddenly fries on a Friday night.

Once upon a time, I was getting ready to give a presentation the next day at a conference about how I use my iPad as assistive technology, when my beloved tablet suffered global irreversible software failure and essentially became a brick less than twelve hours before I would be leaving to give my presentation. While I’m still not sure what caused this to happen, I wasn’t worried about losing any of my data because I had done a backup a few days earlier and knew exactly how to configure another iPad so that it would still have all of the accessibility settings I rely on. After one of my friends drove me to the Apple store less than an hour before closing time (thank you A!), I was able to set up a new device within an hour and give my presentation the next day with my new device. Here is how I back up mobile devices with low vision, including iOS and Android devices.

Creating a local backup on the computer

My iPad gets backed up to my computer at least once a month, where I can store a local backup in iTunes or iCloud that contains my device settings, photos, and other settings. I also back up copies of all of my EPUB books that are synced to eReading apps, which are organized in a folder on my computer. My Android phone can also have a backup stored on my computer or in my Google account.

Using a cloud storage provider for photos and other files

Books, photos, and videos are backed up to my OneDrive account for secure storage, since I get a large amount of storage (1 TB) with Microsoft 365. My photos are also backed up to Google Drive for safekeeping, as I do not want to worry about losing access to them if one cloud storage provider fails. Another bonus is that I can access these files from my computer as needed.

Writing a list of all of my accessibility settings/configurations

While my device settings theoretically are synced with my device backup, I prefer to keep a hard copy of how I have my accessibility settings configured, such as text size, color temperature, and other preferences. These are stored as a Word document on my computer, but since I run an assistive technology and low vision blog I also have them on my website as well so that others can use them for themselves. Documenting accessibility settings is especially important for screen reader users who have custom voice speeds and rotor gestures enabled- it’s nice to be able to get a device exactly how you want it.

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Synching notes and calendars to an email account

I like to sync the notepad and calendar apps to my email account so that I can access them from any device and don’t have to worry about losing access to them. This can be configured in the Account settings section of the device.

Backing up text messages/MMS photos and transferring to a new device

Whenever I get a new Android phone, I always seem to have an issue with migrating MMS messages to the new device with Google’s default device migration tool.  I use the SMS Backup and Restore app on Android and it works great for transferring SMS and MMS messages to a new device.

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Cleaning and deleting old files as needed

To make device backups move more quickly, I make sure to regularly clean my devices by deleting old files that I no longer need, or I back them up to OneDrive and remove them from my device. This also helps to speed up my device in general.

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Summary of how I back up mobile devices

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes,

Updated December 2023; original post published 

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