How to Backup and Restore Windows 10 Mobile

When it comes to restoring Apps, SMS, and settings of your phone, Microsoft took a middle path. Instead of rolling out complete device restore, they introduced an inbuilt feature which takes care of most important stuff that needs to be backed up. It includes SMS, Pictures (Auto Upload), App installation and so on. This process can be used for both switchings from Windows Phone 8.1 Backup to Windows 10 Mobile or Windows 10 Mobile to another Windows 10 Mobile device or even the same device. Let’s figure out how to Backup and Restore Windows 10 Mobile.

How to Backup and Restore Windows 10 Mobile

  1. Make sure to name the phone and link a Microsoft account.
  2. Setup backup for
    • Phone Settings & App Layout
    • App Data
    • Photos
    • SMS/Text messages
  3. Restore the backup to new phone.

The Basics

1] Name your Phone:  The name of the backup is the name of your phone. It helps you to recognize. This name by default is “windows phone” but you can, and should edit this as the first step. Go to Settings > System > About > Edit Name and give the name of your choice.

2] Online Process: The second thing you should know is the backup, and restore process is online only, and you will need internet to both backup and restore.

3] Microsoft Account: Your Backups are available under OneDrive of your Microsoft Account. When you restore, you will need to sign with the same account you made a backup. Make sure you either have a number or an email id configured with your action. You will also need to verify your identity through one of those options, without which the backup will fail.

Video Tutorial:

Backup Windows 10 Mobile

Starting with Windows 10 Mobile, the backup process has improved, there is more clarity on how it works and end users have more options and control over it. Before we deep dive into its internals, let’s take a look at how it works, and how you can manually update.

  • Go to Settings > Update and Security > Backup > More Options > Backup Now.
  • It will start the backup, and store in OneDrive. Right there you can also see the size of the backup, total space on your OneDrive and last backup time & date.

App Backup

Windows 10 Mobile, like its earlier version, Keeps a  list of installed apps connected to your phone allows participating apps to back up data to the cloud. What is new here is the consumers who have the option to either turn it off for all or only for apps which they choose.

It uses the same data to restore to get you back to the same state. So which part of the app data is part of the backup? It is entirely up to the developers. It could be just settings, game states and so on.

  • Under Backup, make sure the option “Back up content from participating apps” is on.
  • To manage individual app backup, select More options > Choose which apps to backup. You have a toggle for the apps which have enabled this option.

Scheduled Backups in Windows 10 Mobile

Photo Backup

Unlike Windows Phone 8.1, this option is now clubbed with OneDrive and soon will works with third-party apps as well. Go to Photos App > ta in the menu bar and select Settings. You have two links there. One which says “Manage OneDrive Upload Settings” and second “Change where photos and videos are saved.”

The first link launches the OneDrive App Settings. Here you can enable the Camera Upload option if it’s off. The second link shows you the list of apps from the store which supports Auto Upload feature. As of now, it isn’t working.

One thing you should know about Photo Backup is that its an independent process, and is built to upload your photos to OneDrive as a backup continuously. Just imitating manual backup won’t upload your pictures to OneDrive.

Backup Email

Phone Settings

Start Screen Layout, Accounts and Passwords are also part of the backup.  This option is enabled by default and is under Backup.  If you ever switch phones or had to reset your phone, this will help you get the start screen layout with all the tiles back in place.

Text Messages

Backup of all the text messages or SMS is possible, and as per my experience, I have seen it to backup and restore all the text message till date. One option that has changed in here is instead of toggle option for Text Backup; you now have the Option to disable/enable sync messages between devices.

It means while the text backup is certainly on by default, the option to sync message between devices is up to you. Windows 10 Desktop using Cortana can send messages, and soon the Messaging App will be able to read all your SMS from Phone. This option is to give you more control over this.

Sync Messages Between Devices Windows 10 Mobile

Old Version: If you wish to disable it for some reason, go to Messaging > History & backup > Text Backup Off.

History and Backup Settings

Restore Windows 10 Mobile

Restore process in Windows 10 Mobile is almost the same. When you switch to phone or after a reset,  to restore settings, apps, app data from the cloud, you will have to use the same Microsoft account with which you had used on the phone before and made a backup. Also, suggest you connect to a WiFi network. It will make sure your restore completes much faster.

During setup, you will have the option to sign-in or skip. If you want to restore, don’t jump. Skipping will result like standard installation, start screen layout will not be restored, except for SMS. If you choose to sign-in, you will have the option to select the backup of your device. The name which you had set before, will appear.

Windows 10 Mobile Backup List

Verification during Windows 10 Mobile Restore

When the restore process hits precisely 20%, the phone asks you to verify your identity. It is possible in three ways.

  • SMS or Text verification
  • Call
  • Email Id.

The SMS part is a little tricky because all you would get is notification, but no access to Message App. However,  the CALL option works flawlessly even though the phone is not ready. The Email id is best if you have access to it through a pc or any other phone. Below is the screenshot where you can see how you can switch between these options.

Windows 10 Mobile verification during backup

 

Email or SMS verification for backup

What gets restored?

  • Start Screen Layout, Themes, Colours, etc. Though sometimes I have seen this missed.
  • Apps from the previous phone. The tiles will look grey until the installation is complete.
  • List of Email accounts will be available in the Outlook.  However, you will have to sign in again with your credentials.
  • SMS / Text Messages. You can configure them to sync for last month to a lifetime.

How to remove old Windows 10 Mobile Backups

You now have the option to remove the old backups as well. It is essential backups are taking a lot of space on your OneDrive. You may have a phone which is not with you anymore. Right under Settings > Backup > More Options > Remove backups there is a link which says “Go to OneDrive.”

Follow that link, sign-in to your account. It will show you a list of devices in which backup is available in your OneDrive. You can remove devices if any. Interesting to note that this is a central place for all Windows device backup. The same site will also list your Windows PC devices as well.

Let us know if these steps to Backup and Restore Windows 10 Mobile worked for you!

About Ashish

A die-hard fan of Windows, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Phone and Xbox, Loves to Do Video reviews on Windows Phone Apps, Games, Xbox Games, Xbox Tutorials.

15 comments

  1. I wish it was working. Unfortunately it has massive flaw. It asks to verify phone number and wantes to text you code, but phone is not working yet and you cannot receive messages. Logical problem. So restore is impossible

    • I do agree on the SMS part. However you can switch from text to call or email as well. The Call works fine even though the phone is restoring itself, while the email option is the best if you have access to near by PC. I have updated the post with images in the restore process.

      • Nope. L930. No toast pop up for sms and the call didn’t come through after trying it a couple of times (although the screen did flicker momentarily, I guess, when the call was trying to come through). Another swing and miss for microsoft. I have been WP since WP7 came out but now I’m just fed up of red hot phone since W10 upgrade, hamstrung and badly thought-out facilities like the back up but no restore option.

  2. so you cant do this without a hard reset! great!

  3. Sai Dheeraj Ravipat

    what about of large apps like asphalt 8 ,dead trigger 2, etc

  4. I am trying to restore SMS from Lumia 735 backup (W10M Insider 10.0.14295.1000) to new Lumia 950 and only Skype conversations restored.. Someone? Everything else restored fine – even call history and settings
    [EDIT]
    We have an app for that ;)
    https://www.microsoft.com/pl-pl/store/apps/contacts-message-backup/9nblgggz57gm

  5. My L930 went and ignored any kind of message backup. It didn’t restore my SMS history nor my whatsapp chat history, even when both of them had a copy up to date. The rest of things are partially restored, like color theme and apps installed…

  6. Saran Raghavendra

    Hey all, i hope my I would get help on my issue. My Lumia 925 was working happily on 8.1 and I upgraded to windows 10. All the apps were picked up from where i left on Windows 8.1, so there was no issue (Specifically my WhatsApp chats). As there were many problems like battery draining out in 1 hour etc etc, I rolled it back to 8.1. However when this was done my whatsapp chats were lost and i screwed it up. I was going through few discussion pages and etc when ond of my intelligent friend opened whatsapp and clicked on backup which means he created a back up for my whatsapp which is empty. After many hours and days i found that my phone was backed up before rolling back to 8.1, means that back up might have my whatsapp chats which are missing. After checking some instructions on some page, i upgraded my phone to windows 10 again hoping it might restore my whatsapp chata, but it didn’t. I can see that back up in my one drive but im not sure about the procedure and if i can get my whatsapp chats back. Pls do help me. I need those chats as some are very important for me.

  7. Thanks for the video tutorial. At last a detailed explanation of how to restore. Other manuals, sites, etc seem to gloss over this and I thought I would never manage. You’re a fine chap!

  8. Sunil Vishwakarma

    i also reseted my phone lumia 730 but i waited half n hour it was been 1 hour i didnt receive any verification code so i clicked to i cant do this now option and one of my apps where having hidden pics in it it was not in the gallery it was in app perfect photo locker it was in sd card den too it got removed can u plz help me wid it

  9. OK, a problem here. I bought a new Windows Phone, which, out of the box, was running 8.1.

    Sure it restored the backup, from my old phone running 10 mobile. So nothing worked.

    I upgraded the new phone to 10 mobile, but can’t figure out a way to kick off a second restore from the backup now that the new phone is running 10 (the upgrade to firmware and software wiped the previous data including the restore.)

  10. Palanisamy

  11. I have a Nokia Lumia 1520 with Win10, few days back the phone restarted by itself and half of my contacts are deleted. how can i restore those contacts or if there a way to restore old phone backup, because i can not find any backup in my One Drive, although all the possible backup options which i have in my phone are turned on. can you please help.

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