A question we're asked over and over is "When I get the Froyo/Gingerbread update, will it erase my phone?" The short answer is that it shouldn't. When you get an over-the-air (read: official) update, it's more of a surgical strike than a carpet bombing. Your phone is partitioned (much like a hard drive -- or multiple drives, actually) so that part of the OS can be rewritten without disturbing the data on another part. That's how your apps, contacts, photos, etc. (should) remain untouched after an update.

If you're loading a custom ROM, leaked ROM or flash from an RUU, all bets are off. Sometimes you'll need to wipe the data and cache partitions. Or maybe not. Point is, read whatever forum thread you've been lurking in before taking that plunge. And, yes, you should back up your contacts from time to time and make sure they're safe somewhere other than on your phone.

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What happens when you apply an update

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Great example of this is with my phone and my co-worker's. We work for an AT&T Retailer and I got an update for my Aria and he got one for his Captivate. AT&T released them and we downloaded them, no issues. Once the leaked 2.2 update for his Cappy came out, we installed it and it erased his phone (and all his business contacts!). Lesson learned....

Someone just requested this in the comments not too long ago. I love how you guys read the comments and quickly responded.

The backup of Contacts is very important, and since you ALMOST can't own an Android phone without a Gmail account, the logical place to back them up is Google contacts. Its pretty much automatic if you go to Settings, Accounts and Sync, tap your gmail account, and make sure all the appropriate boxes are checked.

But ALSO check that your Calendar is backed up if you use a Calendar.

The best way to do this is again use Google Calendar as your Sync, setting it up the same way as above.

Some phones (I'm looking at You Captivate) default each new calendar entry to the phone's internal Calendar, EVEN IF that calendar is not selected/shown. You either need to manually move them, or find some other way to back up your calendar. (Or get a better Calendar app).

Your Music and Pics and Videos need to be backed up too.

The more you have invested in the phone as a daily work tool the less you are willing to install updates other than Over the Air.

I completely disagree. The more I invest in my phone as a daily work tool the MORE willing I am to install updates other than Over the Air. To get the most speed, efficiency, and capabilities from your Android phone it needs to be rooted.

My Tool > Your Tool

Thank you for such a quick response! I am very impressed! When the Froyo update stories come out.... put a link to this so goofs like me can get this info. Thanks again!

what if you delete bloatware apps (ones with at&t in the name) from phones like the captivate? will that affect OTA updates?

So stock and custom ROM is answered.. what about if you've rooted? I've got a Vibrant that I've rooted to install a lag fix on. I know that has to go before I do an OTA update, but what about, for instance, ROM Manager? I used that to backup, do I need to make that go away? Just how far back to stock do you have to go before you're "safe?"

Ill tell ya what ya get with froyo, slightly better features and a better "quadrant" test, Which means absolutely nothing. I notice every phone and evry froyo update ive had, I get a laggy lock screen and 1bar less signal. So 2.1 people you are not missing anything! Froyo is way overrated. Its no better than 2.1.