Google can delete Android backups if your phone remains inactive for 2 months

    Before switching to another Android smartphone or an iPhone, you need to have a local backup of the data or ensure to visit the old phone back within at least two months.

    | Updated on: Sep 15 2017, 13:26 IST
    Here’s why it’s important to keep backing up your data. Photo: AFP
    Here’s why it’s important to keep backing up your data. Photo: AFP (AFP)
    Here’s why it’s important to keep backing up your data. Photo: AFP
    Here’s why it’s important to keep backing up your data. Photo: AFP (AFP)

    Do you switch from one smartphone to another frequently? You are perhaps careful about backing up everything on the cloud, to ensure that your key details such as contacts, messages, photos and videos remain intact. But what if you switched to another Android phone with a newer account, and forgot to take backup from the older phone? Or from an Android to an iPhone, and never used the older phone? Here's something you should know:  Google can automatically delete Android backup for devices that have remained "inactive" for two months.

    The saddest part is Google may do so without notifying the user, and there is no way to restore the data. A Reditter who goes by the name of Tanglebrook found out about this practice in a hard way.

    The miffed Redittor revealed that he had parted ways with his Nexus 6P to switch to a new iPhone. But after a few months, he had to return to Nexus 6P for some reason, and he discovered that all of his Android data had vanished. He further claimed that Android settings, Wi-Fi passwords and the data for at least 50 apps were also gone.

    "There was no warning from Google. They just deleted my data. There's apparently an expiration date that shows up under the backup if I had checked the Backup folder sooner, but there was no notification, no email, no proactive notice at all, and most importantly, no option to use the 100gb of my Drive storage…," said the agitated Redittor.

    Tanglebrook also pointed out Google's disclaimer on its support page. "Your backup will remain as long as you use your device. If you don't use your device for 2 weeks, you may see an expiration date below your backup," the warning reads.

    Google had a vague response to the issue raised by the user.

    "it is the case that after two weeks, you may see an expiration date for your backup on Android. Users can see when their devices were last backed up and when these backups expire in the Backup section of the Google Drive app for Android. We're always looking to improve the user experience on Android, and so we encourage users to leave feedback, as outlined in this forum post," TheNextWeb quoted the company as saying.

    It may be recalled that Google had rolled out support for backing up apps, call history and device settings including Wi-Fi passwords with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The company already allowed users to back up data on Google services such as calendar and contacts.

    That being said, it's not just Google which can automatically delete the backed up data in the case of "inactivity." Major cloud storage services such as Dropbox also have a similar policy.

    "Dropbox determines inactive accounts by looking at sign-ins, file shares, and file activity (adding, editing, or deleting) on any of our platforms (Dropbox or Paper) over the last 12 months. If you have signed in on one of our platforms, or had any file activity on them at any point within the previous 12 months, then your account is considered active," says the company on its website.

    "If you no longer want your Dropbox Basic (free) account, you can simply leave it alone. Your account will be automatically deactivated—and your files deleted—90 days after you reach 12 months of inactivity," it added.

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    First Published Date: 15 Sep, 13:24 IST
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