How to Backup and Restore your Windows Phone

  • When you sign in with your Microsoft account on your Windows Phone 8.1, you can turn on a service that lets you automatically save important things to the cloud so you'll have a backup if something happens to your phone.

    You can choose how your phone backs up your apps, settings, text messages, and photos and videos. In the App list, just go to Settings  > Backup.

    To learn about restoring a backup, see Restore a backup to my phone.


    • This topic is about Windows Phone 8.1. If your phone is running Windows Phone 8, some options and icons may look a little different, and some features may not be available. Check to see which software version you have and find out if an update is available.
    • Microsoft doesn't use information you back up for advertising or marketing purposes.

    Apps + settings

    One of the toughest things about replacing a lost phone or upgrading is getting your accounts, apps, and settings just the way you like them on your new phone. We can create a backup of all sorts of things to make the transition easier, including:

    • The apps you've installed on your phone, along with high scores and progress from participating apps.
    • The passwords for your accounts.
    • Your call history.
    • Your Start screen layout and theme color.
    • The accounts you've set up on your phone.
    • Your Internet Explorer favorites.
    • The custom words you've added to your phone's dictionary.
    • Settings from around your phone, including photos, messaging, email and accounts, lock screen, Speech preferences, and more.


    • Your phone will wait until it has a Wi-Fi connection and is plugged into a power source to automatically create a fresh backup.
    • You can do a manual backup at any time—go to Settings  > Backup > Apps + settings, then turn on Settings backup and tap Back up now.
    • After three weeks without a recent backup, your phone will prompt you to create a new one.

    To turn on apps and settings backup

    • In the App list, tap Settings  > Backup.
    • Tap Apps + settings.
    • To back up your settings, turn on Settings backup.

    To back up your apps, make sure Settings backup is turned on, and then turn on App backup.

    To delete backups

    • In the App list, tap Settings  > Backup.
    • Tap Apps + settings, tap Manage backups (called Advanced on Windows Phone 8), then do one of the following:
      • If you want to delete your entire backup, select the Settings backup check box and tap Delete.
      • If you only want to delete your app data, clear the Settings backup check box, select the App backup check box, and tap Delete.


    Deleting backups on your phone only removes the local copy, but you can delete backups permanently from OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive). Log in to your OneDrive account and go to Settings > Options > Device settings. You'll see a list of your backups and can delete any you want.

    Text messages

    You can automatically back up your SMS and MMS messages to the cloud. That way, the next time you get a new Windows Phone, you can restore your conversations when you set up the phone. When you delete your messages from your phone, they'll be deleted from the cloud as well, so you're always in sync.

    To turn on text message backup

    • In the App list, tap Settings  > Backup.
    • Tap Text messages, and then turn Text message backup on or off.


    • Turning off backup won't delete previously saved SMS and MMS messages. To delete messages from the cloud, you'll need to turn on backup and delete the messages off your phone.
    • On Windows Phone 8, you can also turn Chat backup on or off.

    Photos and videos

    You can automatically upload your photos and videos to OneDrive and get to them later from any computer or device that connects to the web. (This might use your data plan and incur charges.)

    To turn on auto upload

    • In the App list, tap Settings  > Backup.

    • Tap Photos + videos, and choose one of the following for your photos and for your videos:

      • Tap Don't upload if you don't want to automatically upload your photos or videos.
      • Tap Good quality to automatically upload photos at a resolution that uses less data and OneDrive storage space. (This option isn't available for videos on Windows Phone 8.1.)
      • Tap Best quality to automatically upload photos or videos at the highest possible resolution.


    You'll need a Wi-Fi connection to automatically upload videos and best-quality photos.

  • If you lose your Windows Phone 8.1 or decide to upgrade it, you can restore your apps, text messages, accounts, and many settings and passwords from your old phone when you set up your new one. All you need is a Microsoft account and a backup from your old phone.

    To learn how to create a backup, see "Back up Windows Phones."

    To restore a backup

    • When you first set up your new phone, sign in using the same Microsoft account you used when you created your backup.

    Tip: Restoring a backup can use a lot of data, so you may want to connect to a Wi-Fi network during setup. Otherwise, the restore will use your cellular data and you may incur charges.

    • When you're prompted to restore your phone, tap the backup you want to use, and then tap Next.
    • If you're asked to verify your account, provide the necessary security code, and then tap Next.
    • Wait for the restore to complete, and then tap Next.
    • Do one of the following:
      Enter passwords for your restored accounts, and then tap Next.
      Tap Skip if you want to enter your passwords later.
    • Tap Done.