How to Backup and Restore Windows 10 Mobile

When it comes to restoring of 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. This includes SMS, Pictures (Auto Upload), App installation and so on. This process can be used for both switching 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.

Windows 10 Mobile Backup Restore

The Basics:

Name your Phone: The backup of your phone is saved with a name which helps you recognise it when you want to restore. 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 a name of your choice.

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.

Microsoft Account: Your Backup is linked to your Microsoft Account. When you restore, you will need to signing 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:


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, lets take a look on how it works, and how you can manually update.

  • Go to Settings > Update and Security > Backup > More Options > Backup Now.
  • This will start the backup and its stored 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 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 taken as backup? This 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.
  • If you want to manage individual app backup, select More options > Choose which apps to backup. You have toggle for the apps which have enabled this option.

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 pn 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 where you can enable the Camera Upload option if it’s turned off. Second link is supposed to show you the list of apps from store which support Auto Upload feature, but it isn’t working right now.

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


Phone Settings :

Start Screen Layout, Accounts and Passwords are also synced.  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 on place.

Text Messages :

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

This 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 is able to 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 on 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.

Backup Restore Windows 10 Mobile 5


Restore process in Windows 10 Mobile is almost same. When you switch phone or after a reset,  to restore settings, apps, app data from 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 to connect to a WiFi network to get things done faster and easy on your mobile data.

During setup, you will have the option to sign-in or skip. If you want to restore, don’t skip. If you skip some of the backups like app data, accounts, app installations, start screen layout will not be restored. However SMS still gets restored. If you choose to sign-in, you will have option to choose the backup of your device. The name which you had set before, will appear.

Windows 10 Mobile Backup Restore


When restore process hits exactly 20%, the phone asks you to verify your identity. This can be done in three ways.

  • SMS or Text verification
  • Call
  • Email Id.

The SMS part is 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 are the screenshot where you can see how you can switch between these options.

Windows 10 Mobile Restore Verifications 2
Windows 10 Mobile Restore Verifications 1

What gets restored?

  • Start Screen Layout, Themes, Colours etc. Though sometimes I have seen this missed.
  • The list of apps installed during the backup process. They are downloading in the background and the tiles are grayed out till then.
  • Email Accounts which are configured with Outlook. You will have to renter the password again to sync.
  • SMS / Text Messages. You can configure them to sync for last month to lifetime.

Removing Old Backups:

You now have option to remove old backup as well. This is really important if its taking a lot of space on your OneDrive or when you have changed a phone and the old backup is not needed any more. 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 and you will list of devices that was backed up to your OneDrive. Remove the ones that are not needed anymore, and it will free up space. Interesting to note that this is a central place for all Windows device backup. So expect your PC to be listed there as well.

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