Video : How to Backup & Restore Windows Phone SMS, Apps, Photo, Call History etc

Starting with Windows Phone 8, a Backup and Restore feature is available which can Sync SMS, Call History, IE Favourites, Save Photos to SkyDrive and backup your phone settings to cloud.

Now even when you switch to different Windows Phone or even change your number but use the same Microsoft Account on that phone, the data can retrieved back to your phone in few minutes. Find the video demo at the end.

What does Windows Phone Backup to the cloud ?

Go to Settings > Backup and here you will have three sub settings. One if for app list + settings, text messages and photos.

App List + Settings :

App List : Backup can remember the list of apps you had installed on your phone from the day you start using the Marketplace. However, it will not backup any of the App data like password, game states etc.

Settings : These are phone settings which are stored on the cloud. This includes the following things :

  • Theme Colour
  • Email, Facebook and Twitter Accounts you have set up on your phone. Password is never saved.
  • Internet Explorer Favourites
  • Call history including time, date and state.
  • Settings from your Photo Library, Messaging, Location, Lock Screen, speech etc.

Text messages / MMS Backup

Text messages and MMS including their number and read state are backed up to the cloud. However if, you delete them from your phone and a backup gets initiated after that, there is no way to restore it.

Apart from Text message backup, you can do Facebook Chat Backup also. Go to Settings > Messaging and turn on the option which says Chat Backup.

Photo Backup to Skydrive : You can choose to back up your photos even if it uses Mobile Data. Since photos are most important for many of us, I will suggest you to keep it turned on.


Backup List Windows Phone 8

How to Restore Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone can identify you by means of the account you had used in the previous phone. So make sure the account is same and you are connected to your mobile network. This will only work when you switch or reset your phone.

Once you sign in with the same account, the magic will begin. Instantly Windows Phone will give you two option, First is to restore from previous backup and second is to start fresh.

WP8 Restore from Backup

If you chose to restore, the next screen will update you about the how the restore will take place. Here are the details :

We are preparing to restore Lumia 920 WP8

First we will restore your settings and accounts. This might take few moments and it will use your mobile data.

Then, while we install your apps and games, you can starts using your phone and rearranging your Tiles. During this time you can sign in to WIFI if you would like to avoid further data charges.

That said, be happy that even your apps will be reinstalled. So make sure to connect with WIFI Network, so the download is smooth else go to the marketplace and pause all of them one by one so your mobile data is not used.

Backup Restore Video

Watch on YouTube

How to manually backup your Windows Phone :

Go to Settings then Backup and then select App List + Settings. Here, you can see when was the windows phone backed up. Hit Backup now for instantly backing up your phone. Since a lot of data may get consumed, it is advised to connect to WIFI network.

How often Backup Takes Places :

Windows Phone takes automatic backup at least once a day if you are connected to WIFI Network long enough. In case you do not connect to a WIFI network for a month, it will use the mobile data to backup your phone.

How to Delete a Backup ?

If you ever wished to start from fresh, you should first delete your old backup. This can be done by going to Settings > Backup > App List + Settings > Advanced and choose opt out of backup.

This feature is not available to Windows Phone 7.5 users and they need to follow up this method.

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. Thanks for posting this video it was very helpful, but however the Apps listing is not working with my Nokia Lumia 920 ( Rogers)
    I have tried backup and restore for many times SMS and MMS call history works fine but the apps listings does not restore apps. Any idea!

  2. Thanks for the reply,
    well it shows nothing after signing in the my hotmail account it goes straight to my hotmailaccount and starts loading emails and it does not give me option for restoring like it showed on yours while demonstrating on the video it give you the name of phone as Nokia Lumia 920 and I did name mine too on my computer as Nokia Lumia 920 but st

  3. That’s odd. I am wondering how you did not get a name there. Was there a option to start fresh like I had in the video ? Also Did you try this restore by manually pushing the backup and then hit reset and restore later.

  4. Hello, I do not have a data plan but the phone does not give me a chance before this menu to hook up to my WiFi at home. After I get into the phone itself, is there a way to tell it to restore somehow? Thanks.

  5. Hello Ashish,

    I got the nokia 920 based on the camera hype at the time of it’s first unveiling. To my surprised it turned out my old Galaxy S2 took better pictures in my opinion.

    Here is my question, I am trying to backup my entire phone (has to be sent in for repairs led light died) and wtf to my surprised the most common and convenient way for me to backup my previous phones, which is to plug it into your pc and backup “everything” is not listed.

    With the pc it only allows me to save my photos, vids and music. I cannot comprehend why Nokia/MS did not add the option to save/backup sms, contacts, app settings and phone call history option to your pc. At some point and time MS/Nokia had to make a decision of phone users to backup your most personal information using their cloud, all the while forfeiting you from having the option of saving it to your “personal computer”. Let me think…hm it cost a lot of money to buy and maintain the cloud servers they use, and as far as I can tell you don’t pay a single cent, unless you want more cloud data ….ask yourself what’s in it for the perverted F**Ks. I think most of us won’t allow a stranger to just walk right up into your house and begin to observe your eating habits, tv shows you watch etc. Don’t tell me either that only you can access your info…it’s simply bullshit.

    Why am I being forced to use the “cloud” why would I want my personal info on someone else’s machine. I do not own the server and do not have admin rights. If they had advertised you could not conduct a simple backup of everything via pc, I would never have gotten this phone. I like the ability to choose/have a choice especially after paying $600 for a phone, just to have MS/Nokia to make the decision for me.

    I can understand why some people would want to use the cloud, but not everyone should be forced to use it.

    Ashish, how do I back up contacts, call history, sms messages to my pc without going through the cloud.

    Thank you for your time

  6. As soon as you reset the phone it will ask you to login to MS account, it wont let you goto wifi settings to enable / configure it ???

    Are we supposed to restore w/o wifi !!! using expensive data plans,

    its pathetic Nokia / Microsoft !@#$

    is there any other way to restore later ?

  7. Yes from phone but it is backed up online so when you install again with same phone number, you can download it.

  8. Thanks for the sms are not getting restored!!Is there any way to restore them manually?

  9. can i backup my text messages from my lumia 520?plz tell me urgent?plz.koi b bta dy exact plzzzzzzzzzzz?????//

  10. They are automatically backed up. Settings > Backup > Text Messages. However they can only be restored to another windows phone or when you reset your existing phone and use the same Microsoft account.

  11. Hi Ashish

    I think the question has been asked many times but it’s my first time here and my question is probably simple for you.
    I use my Lumia 925 for business so my txt messages are extremely important..My phone has developed a fault so I need to system restore it, I know it says all txts are saved to Cloud but is this a definite not a maybe because I really do need some to tell me it works or I will have lost 2 yrs of important stuff.
    As you can probably tell I have never restored any of my Cloud backups up to now.

  12. i am using windows phone 8. my mobile Nokia Lumia 620, I need to back up my sms from my mobile to my computer. pls advice is it possible or not? regards,

  13. Hi.. I am using Lumia 625.. One app (hike messenger) is not working properly since last wednesday on my set.. ..I am not getting any messages from my friends, though they are getting properly from me.. Even the notification of incoming messages is coming on my phone as usual…!!!! what should I do….??????


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