How to back up the data on your Galaxy Note 7 before returning it

If you're going to be taking advantage of the U.S. carriers' offer to replace old and new Galaxy Note 7 phones (and you should) you probably want to keep a few things stored on it. Besides the obvious — things like your address book or email — you likely have pictures, music, and other important stuff on the thing. You don't have to lose it when you get a new phone.

The first thing to remember is that your Note 7 runs Android with Google's services. That means a lot of your data can be backed up to your Google account in the cloud. This is how Android was designed to work — it's a cloud-based operating system.

Email, contacts, and calendar


If you're using Gmail, your email is already backed up. Google's Contacts and Calendar work the same way. If you are signed into any of these services and use them, you can pick up right where you left off on any device, anywhere by signing in with the same account.

If you're using another online-based email service, like Yahoo! or Microsoft's, it sill works the same way. The data isn't tied to your Google account, of course, but once you sign back in with the same login you'll have access to everything again. This is true for email, address book, and calendar with most online services.

If you're syncing a POP email account (like the one from your internet provider) you will need to check the settings on your email account itself to see how message syncing is done. The people who provide you the service can help if you have any questions. For any local (read: not online) address book or calendar apps, you'll need to check the app settings and see if there is an export feature.

Finally, if you have your work email, contacts and calendar on your Note 7 you need to ask your friendly IT person what to do.

Your media

Google photos

Chances are you are using the Note 7 camera to take a picture or two, and you want to keep them. You might have a handful of music files and a video or two on there as well. Luckily, backing media files up is easy.

You can store pictures on your computer and transfer them via a USB cable, or you can store them in the cloud. If you were to ask my recommendation, I'd point you towards Google Photos. But there are other services like Dropbox that work, too.

How to back up photos and video to your computer or the cloud

If you have a computer, backing photos up is easy. There's an advantage to using your own local storage to keep photos — there is no image loss or resizing involved. Hit the link above to see all your options and how to get started.

Music files work mostly the same way. Services like Google Play Music or Amazon Music let you use the cloud, or you can plug into your computer and copy between phone and PC at will. One advantage of using a cloud service is being able to stream your songs from any device, but the files may take a hit on quality. If your music is stored in a lossless format or a very high bitrate Mp3 make sure to keep a copy on your computer. Click the link below to see your options and how they work.

How to back up your music files to your computer or online storage

Samsung Smart Switch

If you're going to stick with the Note 7 or use any other Samsung Galaxy phone, you can use a service from Samsung called Smart Switch.

Using the cable that came in your box (and the adapter if you need it) you can copy all the data from all your apps, the apps themselves, all your accounts and all of your media files / SD card content from your Note 7 to a computer or another Galaxy phone. The program is easy to use and does a pretty good job.

How to use Samsung Smart Switch to back up your Galaxy phone

There are a couple things to keep in mind here.

  • Smart Switch is only an option if the phone you're putting the data on is a Samsung Galaxy phone. Smart Switch can pull the data off of any Android or iOS phone, but it can only copy it back to a Galaxy model.
  • If you're going to be using a really old Galaxy phone — something like the Galaxy S3 or Note 2 — you might have issues with apps and their data. Things have changed a lot in the past couple of years.
  • Any loaner you get from your carrier might not be compatible with Smart Switch. Your carrier isn't going to be handing out brand new Samsung phones like candy. Expect something that they wouldn't care about losing.

And remember — if you're returning your phone through your carrier or a Samsung store, they can help make sure you keep everything that's yours and help you get it on a new phone. It's OK to ask for help!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.