PSA: Android backups are auto-deleted after an inactivity period

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 15, 2017
Google Android

If you use the built-in option of many Android devices to back up important data to Google Drive, you better make sure you use the device regularly as backups are auto-deleted when you don't use the device for a certain period of time.

Google backs up apps, contacts, calendar data, the call history, device settings, and on Pixel devices SMS and Photos & videos.

A user on Reddit reported the issue yesterday on the site. He refunded his Android Nexus 6P device and started using an old iPhone for the time being until a viable replacement would be released.

When he checked his Google Drive folder, more precisely, the backup folder there, he noticed that all of his Nexus 6P backups were not there anymore.

He discovered a Google Help page that revealed the following tidbits of information about the process:

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.

Google does not mention an explicit expiration date for backups which suggests that it is dynamic in nature and not fixed.

android backups auto delete

What's clear though is that backups are marked for expiration if you don't use the device for 2 weeks. If you have to sent it in for repairs, you may cross that threshold depending on how long it takes to get it fixed or the device replaced.

What is particularly worrying about the process is that Android users are not informed about this. There is no notification that a backup is about to expire and that it will be deleted if the device is not used.

There is also no option to keep a backup by blocking the termination from happening, even if there is plenty of storage space on Google Drive.

Backups on Android are quite problematic anyway. Google's implementation is particularly problematic, as it is not possible to enforce backups on the device.

Now You: Do you back up your Android devices? How?

PSA: Android backups are auto-deleted after an inactivity period
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PSA: Android backups are auto-deleted after an inactivity period
Android backups that are stored on Google Drive will get auto-deleted when the device is not used for a set period of time.
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  1. TelV said on November 1, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    I don’t know which is worse on an Android phone: Google or Samsung. Google snooping is to be avoided at all costs so I’ve disabled Drive along with the Play Store and anything else Sophos for Android can uninstall or block. The worst of these is Google Instant Apps which install automatically whether Wi-Fi is enabled or not. I noticed today that there’s a new setting which invites users to enable automatic updates again (I disabled those) with the promise that apps will only update over Wi-Fi.

    But there seems to be no end to the constant bloatware that Samsung insists on reinstalling once I uninstall them all such as the Beacon Manager which will bombard you with ads if you don’t get rid of it a.s.a.p. It won’t uninstall completely and will leave around 76Kb on the phone, but at least it doesn’t work as it should in its barebones format.

    I think I’ll buy one of the phones with stock Android next time just to be rid of the bloatware. Nokia 8 is one of them I believe.

  2. DoomCloud said on September 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    That’s why never rely on online/cloud backup especially important files. Rather have a backup on external storage which are cheap nowadays like USB Flashdrives or if you prefer hardcopy backups, burn them on Disks which can last forever aslong as they are taken care from getting scratches.

  3. someone said on September 16, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    real backup of important data is offline on storage that belongs to you. this cloud thing is just a cute luxury and should not be taken seriously… it belongs to Google and they can do whatever they want.

  4. CHEF-KOCH said on September 16, 2017 at 1:09 am

    When google, MS, Apple backups shit, everyone says there working with NSA .. when they don’t they criticise that too.

    Only negative thing I can tell here is that there no separate ‘warning’ emails, but that’s it, don’t hype this story too much.

  5. Abigail said on September 15, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Just not good, not good at all. What a fallacy of security. So glad I stayed away from Android.

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