Judging by your overwhelming response to last week’s Android customization post, many of you have strong feelings either for or against Google Now. Either way, I hope that you found value in the ability to swap out the functionality of the swipe up gesture to a task better suited to your needs.
This week, we want to make sure that everyone is looking after their data, specifically we want to make sure you are backing up your SMS. I know at least our Canadian readers prefer the term ‘text messages’ here, which is possibly more accurate, but I’m going to stick with SMS, sorry guys.
Join us as we explore an app called SMS Backup+, and another app you’ve already heard of, Tasker.
Before we begin
Get SMS Backup+Many SMS and messaging apps and services have the ability built right in to backup or otherwise prevent loss of your messages should you lose your phone, but that is not always the case. When in doubt, or if you are using a messaging tool that does not have backup capabilities, we will point you towards SMS Backup+, a free app in the Google Play Store, that syncs your messages to your Gmail account for safe storage.
Get TaskerAs a completely optional addition to the project today, we will use Tasker to fine tune the controls a little. If you do not yet have Tasker installed, prepare to drop $2.99 in the Google Play Store to follow along.
Use SMS Backup+ to keep your messages safe
There is a good chance you’ve got a SMS message or two on your Android device, and there is a good chance one or more of those you’d rather not lose if you happen to misplace your phone. If for no other reason, perhaps you should look at backing up your SMS messages on a regular basis.
Straight out of the box, SMS Backup+ is super easy to use and looks to backup not just your SMS, but also your MMS and call log. The idea is to dump these items into your Gmail account with a custom Gmail Label to keep them under control.
Now, if you are a Google Voice and/or Google Hangouts user, have a look for the ‘SMS’ Label in your Gmail. If you see the Label, and it is packed full of your messages, today’s tasks are not really for you, your messages are secure and you may go on with getting ready for your weekend.
The general setup of SMS Backup+ is pretty near all of the input this app requires to keep your messages rolling to Gmail. Install the app, fire it up and let’s walk through it from there.
First, you will need to connect to your preferred Gmail account. Not to worry, this app uses OAuth, like all good apps should, so you can block access at any time from within your Google account settings on the web.
Tap the Connect check box.
Choose your Google account.
Decide whether or not to begin a full backup of all existing messages on your device, or to skip and only backup messages received from this point forward.
If all you desire to do is backup everything to a Label called SMS in your Gmail, turn on the Auto backup checkbox and enjoy your day. However, if you’d like to tune things a little, please continue along.
Next up, head into Advanced Settings.
Tap on Backup settings.
Choose which types of messages you would like to backup to Gmail. I usually do not backup MMS myself, but that’s just a personal preference.
Click on SMS near the bottom of the list to change the name of the Label that will be created in Gmail. You don’t have to do this, but remember that your Google Hangouts and Voice also backup to the SMS Label. I called mine “SMS+“, nice and simple.
Tap the system Back button to save and exit back to the SMS Backup+ home screen.
Tap into Auto backup settings.
Tap on Regular schedule to set the frequency with which SMS Backup+ backs up your messages. It is set to 2 hours by default. I like to save juice and risk the loss, I choose 24 hours.
Tap on incoming schedule to set a time in which SMS Backup+ is triggered to run after a new message arrives. It defaults to 3 minutes, which is where I leave it, but you might want to bump that to 30 minutes or more if you regularly have extended SMS conversations.
Tap the system Back button to get back to the main screen again.
Now, tap that Auto backup check box to make sure the backups are turned on and you may call it a day.
If ever the scheduled backup frequency is not to your liking, or you do not want auto backups at all, there is a big Backup button at the top of the screen just waiting to be pushed.
If you do like the auto backup, but the Regular schedule times do not work for you, it is time to use our favorite customization app, Tasker.
Backup SMS using Tasker
To use Tasker to trigger SMS backup, we will use SMS Backup+ as a Third Party extension to Tasker.
First, head into SMS Backup+ to enable the integration.
Tap into Auto backup settings.
Turn on 3rd party integration.
Exit SMS Backup+ and head into Tasker.
Create a new Tasker Task and name it appropriately. I’ve named mine “Smsbackup“.
Tap the “+” button to add an action.
Choose 3rd Party.
Choose SMS backup+.
That is really all there is to the Task, hit the system Back button to save and exit the Task creation.
Now, you need to decide how and when Tasker should run the backup. For our purposes, let’s setup a Profile that runs the backup every Sunday.
Head to the Profiles tab of Tasker, create a new Profile and name it appropriately. I’ve called mine “Sundaysmsbackup“.
Tap the Month Day drop down and change it to Week Day.
Tap the system Back button to save.
Choose your backup Task, I had called mine “Smsbackup.”
That’s it, you are done.
While I am sure you have far different ideas than mine when it comes to backup frequency, I hope that you see all of the available ways and times that you can use SMS Backup+ to fire your data over to Gmail.
We used a Day value in our Tasker project, be sure to think outside the box for your needs. Perhaps backup your SMS when you connect to your home WiFi router. Maybe put a 10 minute delay after receiving a message – that’s too easy, I know, create a few Tasker Profiles and Tasks that add 1 to a variable every time you receive a message, then fire the backup when you get to 10 messages. Don’t forget to then reset the variable back to 0.
Finally, SMS Backup+ sends your messages to Gmail, what are you to do if you do not want to use Gmail? You know it, there are well over a million apps in the Google Play Store, I am sure a few of them can help. Might I suggest SMS Backup & Restore, also free in the Google Play Store, which saves your messages as a text file (XML, to be more accurate,) on your device. Make sure to pull the files from the device for secure backup.
I hope that SMS Backup+ and Tasker helped you to save your data from a loss, or at least we hope today’s Android customization allowed you to use your data in a different way. Next week we would like to take a look at a new feature available in Chrome for devices running Android 5+ Lollipop, specifically, how to control the new tab management.
Do you care to keep record of your SMS, MMS and call log history, what tools do you use to manage things?