Video : How Backup / Restore works when switching between Windows Phone 8

Case Study:

In this case study, I investigated how backup and restore works when a Windows Phone user migrates from one Windows Phone to another.  I wanted to know if the Backup of Windows Phone, which is stored on the cloud, is only a single instance, or it is based on individual device.

I own a Lumia 920 and HTC 8X and was eager what will happen if I use the same account on both phone and how the backups will work.

This resulted in two kinds of situation.

Situation 1:

I skipped signing to Microsoft Account when setting up the HTC 8X Windows Phone for the first time. However later I signed in using the same Microsoft account and created another backup.

I had many questions like

  • If Lumia 920 backup was replaced with HTC 8X backup.
  • What would happen to SMS, will they sync ?
  • and so on.

Situation 2:

In case I would have skipped Situation 1 and signed into same Microsoft Account which was already being used in Lumia 920, what kind  of backup options I will get? Will I be able to restore from the Lumia 920 Backup ? Will the Nokia Lumia Apps also start downloading ?

Video Demo :

Watch on YouTube

Final Result and Conclusions :

Windows Phone 8 Backup Multiple Instances

The video makes it clear that every backup is tied up with the type of Phone. So you can have multiple backup instances. It is also possible to use backup of one windows phone with another i.e. I was able to use Lumia 920 Backup and restore it over HTC 8X.

Now answer to the situations we mentioned above :

Situation 1:

When you choose not to sign in with a Microsoft account when setting up the Windows Phone for the first time but do it later, all your SMS are synced back. As a matter of fact, it keeps syncing in between all Windows Phone which uses the same Microsoft Account even if you switch temporarily.

However, Call History, Phone Settings & App List were not restored. Even Camera Roll Images and any SMS received priors of signing to a Microsoft Account are not synced.

In fact, when enabling the backup for the first time, you don’t get an option to restore from any previous backup but can only create new backup instance.

Situation 2:

This works like regular backup and restore. However, It seems that the restore process tries to download apps, which were specific, to the phone manufacturer. In my case, I had a lot of download errors which were for Nokia Lumia Apps.


  • Backup Process cannot be initiated if you have skipped signing to a Microsoft Account when first setting up your phone.
  • Backup Data is tied to the type of Phone i.e. Phone ID.
  • You can have multiple backups when the same account is used on different phone.
  • SMS will always be synced even if you did not choose to use a Microsoft Account in the initial setup.
Ashish Mohta
A die-hard fan of Windows, PC Gaming, and Xbox. He is a seasoned content writer with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He is a specialist in writing about Windows, software reviews, troubleshooting Windows, and automation.


  1. Hi ashish
    thanks for the video, now my problem solved.
    I have watched the video and was wondering what internet connection ( your sim connection or was it WiFi ) were you using while signing on your Microsoft account. If it was WiFi didn’t it lost the connection after factory reset. Please do let me know

  2. It was my Sim connection I was using. You are right, after reset it will not be able to connect to WIFI if Any.

  3. Yes, thanks for that experiment, it was most informative!

    One thing that’s been vexing me is this: I’ve had to wipe and restore my device on two occasions because of poorly written apps.

    When I restored the backup, a few things happened: one, my home screen tile configuration wasn’t restored, and downloading previously installed apps failed.

    Have you experienced this? And is there a way to backup the home screen tile settings?

    Nice work again!

  4. Thanks, the home screen or the start screen configuration is not backed up at all.

    Some of the apps are like ghosts when they download after restore. They appear as Downloading application which never downloads. To my findings, These are apps which are either beta apps or Vendor specific apps.


  5. when you restored your 920 backup over to the 8x, did all of you 920’s Apps actually transfer over to the 8x or did you have to redownload all of the Apps?

  6. Thanks for sharing your experiment.

    I was surprised that the App data is not backed up at all! I don’t even know how can I backup my applications data.

    I found a useful feature request on Windows Phone official features requests site which requests making the backup more useful in this regard:

    I hope the backup will be fixed soon…

  7. Ashish bhai
    am using vodafone, my internet service is active, but yet am not able to sign in intially!!!
    can we reset while sim card is in??
    wat i have done:
    1) battery full charged, removed sim, charger, earphone, done hard reset through settings,
    2) after mobile starts , i insert sim , wait for network bars to appear and thn process, but yet not able to sign in it says no connection.

  8. I’m planning on moving from a 620 to a 625, how do I get my contacts and everything from the 620 to the 625.. Also I’m giving the 620 to a friend, so what are the data that will remain once I remove my sim and sd card and the other person uses it?

  9. Ashish

    I am trying to restore on WP8.1 and during the reboot process it asks me to identify my phone number (last 4 digits) and sends me a code and expects me to enter the same in the next screen. But there is no way to get that code as my phone connection cannot be accessed and cant see my text messages – any ideas how this can be solved?

  10. Hi Ashish. Has to restore my phone twice in two days since some shots that were installed in my sd card threw update error. I did this as part of the suggestion by a MVP. Now the app errors are resolved but this got me in a bigger fix. None of my SMS are restored! The latest backup doesn’t seem to have any SMS it feels.. How can I get around this? Don’t wanna lose all my messages. Pls help.


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