How to Backup & Restore Your Windows Phone 7

Now that I have become a Windows Phone user, I’m starting to learn how to deal with certain challenges of this platform. One of the biggest challenges I have encountered so far is: how to make a complete backup of my Windows Phone? I did some research and I could not find any official tools from Microsoft, to help me with this problem. Therefore, the only answer is to use third-party tools and hacks. Luckily, I found a very good tool, named WP7 Easy Backup Tool. Here’s how it works.

What is Included in the Backup?

The WP7 Easy Backup Tool will back up the following data: firmware, operating system, registry, settings, applications, application data (login details, saved games, etc) and everything else except the media files found on your phone.

Your photos, music and videos are not saved. They can be backed up using the Zune software.

NOTE: This tutorial was created using a Nokia Lumia 800. This tool and the procedures described below show work also with other models of phones with Windows Phone 7 or Windows Phone 7.5.

Step 1: Download & Install The Tools Required

In order for the backup and restore to be performed successfully, you need to download and install the following tools:

  • The latest version of the Zune Software.
  • The Windows Phone Support Tool. Its 32-bit version can be found here and the 64-bit version here. Download and install the appropriate version for your operating system.
  • The WP7 Easy Backup Tool. The direct download link can be found here. You don’t need to install this tool. Just extract the content of the archive and run the Wp7EasyBackup.exe file.

It is mandatory that these tools be installed. Otherwise, when running the WP7 Easy Backup Tool you will encounter errors such as this: "There was a known problem with your Windows Phone Support Tools.".

Windows Phone 7.5 Backup

Step 2: Backup Previous Backups

If you have used your Windows Phone for a while and the Zune software, you surely went through at least one update process. By default, Zune makes a backup of your phone, prior to the update procedure. This is so that, in case of failures, it can revert back the phone to its previous state.

Windows Phone 7.5 Backup

These backups are automatically stored on the drive where Windows is installed, at the following location: Users\Your User Name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Phone Update (also accessible using this path: %localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows Phone Update). Go to this location and copy the subfolder where backups were made, to a safe location.

Windows Phone 7.5 Backup

You can view this folder and its contents only if Windows Explorer is set to show hidden files and folders. You can enable this setting from Folder Options, using this tutorial: How to Improve Windows Explorer Using Folder Options.

The backups made by Zune are quite large so don’t be surprised if they take 1.5GB of space or more.

The WP7 Easy Backup Tool uses the same location to make its backups and overwrites any data stored there by Zune. Thus, the reason for making a backup of the backup. :)

How to Backup Your Windows Phone With the WP7 Easy Backup Tool

Launch the WP7 Easy Backup Tool. Then, connect your Windows Phone to your computer via the USB cable, without running Zune.

Windows Phone 7.5 Backup

Unlock the lock screen on your phone and press Backup. Then, press Backup again for the process to start.

Windows Phone 7.5 Backup

Your phone will shut down and the backup procedure is performed. Expect it to take some time. On my phone it took 10 to 15 minutes.

Windows Phone 7.5 Backup

When the backup is complete, the phone is restarted and you are asked to enter your PIN. Once logged into your Windows Phone, you receive a notification about an update being unsuccessful. Don’t worry about it. It is expected behavior. Close the notification and continue using your phone.

How to Restore Your Windows Phone With the WP7 Easy Backup Tool

You can also restore your phone using the latest backup made with WP7 Easy Backup Tool.

Launch the WP7 Easy Backup Tool. Then, connect your Windows Phone to your computer via the USB cable, without running Zune.

Windows Phone 7.5 Backup

Unlock the lock screen on your phone and press Restore. Then, press Restore again for the process to start.

The phone will shut down and the restoration process begins. Arm yourself with some patience as it will take quite a bit of time. For my phone, the restoration took about 25 minutes.

Windows Phone 7.5 Backup

Once the restoration process ends, the phone is restarted. Insert the PIN that you used when making the last backup and you can start using your phone.

Conclusion

While there are other tools for making a complete backup of your phone, none are so easy to use as the WP7 Easy Backup Tool. This tool manages to fill in a very important gap not covered by Microsoft with its official Windows Phone tools.

I do hope that, with Windows Phone 8, Microsoft will provide tools for making backups of your Windows Phone.