Long gone are the days of little notebooks with phone numbers carefully scribbled inside. In these digital times it’s far more likely that the entirety of your friends’ and family’s details are stored in the Contacts app on your phone. That’s why it’s crucial that you back them up regularly, as this not only keeps them safe but also means when moving to a new device you’re much less likely to leave anyone behind.

How to use the Google Contacts app to make a backup

Before we look at exporting contacts and things like that, it’s worth noting that if you save your numbers into the Google Contacts app and have your account set to back up and sync to Google Drive, then they will automatically be saved in the cloud. It can also create entries from contacts stored in other apps, so long as they aren’t kept on your SIM card or are already syncing to cloud services (the example being Exchange).

As most Android phones come with more than one contacts app, the one you want has the icon of a white silhouette inside a blue circle and called Contacts.

Any details you create within this app will be stored in the Google servers and can then be easily restored when you move to a new device, as you just log in with your Google account and they should be there.

To ensure the feature is set up correctly, and to convert contacts from other apps, open Contacts and tap the three lines in the top left corner. From the menu that appears select Settings > Contact sync settings and you’ll be presented with two settings: Automatically sync Google contacts and Back up & sync device contacts.  

How to back up contacts on Android

On the latter, tap Manage settings and then turn on the Automatically back up and sync device contacts. You’ll need to confirm your Google account, but once this is done you’ll see your Backup Account listed on the Back up & sync screen and any contacts (except for the stipulations listed above) on your device should now also have Google Contact doppelgangers.

How to back up contacts on Android: Back up & Sync

Back on the Contact sync settings page tap Manage settings under Automatically back up and sync device contacts then ensure that the Automatically sync option in enabled.  

How to back up contacts on Android: Sync contacts

The last step is the open the Settings app on your phone then go to Google Settings > Backup and check that the Back up to Google Drive option is turned on.

How to back up contacts on Android: Google Sync

If you also have an iPhones, then here's how to back up an iPhone.

How to import SIM contacts to your Google account

While it’s not possible to use the method outlined above to create backups of contacts stored on a SIM card, there is a quick way to do it in a slightly more manual fashion. Go to the Google Contacts app and tap the three lines in the top left corner. From here select Settings and then scroll down until you find the Manage contacts section. Tap Import then select the SIM card option followed by OK.

How to back up contacs on Android : SIM card contacts

You’ll now be able to choose the contacts you want to add to the Google Contacts app, which in turn will automatically back them up to the cloud. The same method can also be used to import any contacts stored on your phone in a .vcf format.

How to export your contacts

Should you want to create a backup of your contacts that you can store on your computer or different cloud storage service, it’s a simple process. Open the Google Contacts app and tap the three lines in the top left corner. Next, tap Settings, scroll down to the Manage contacts section and tap Export. You’ll automatically be taken to your Downloads folder with a file at the bottom named contacts.vcf. Tap the Save button and your backup will be deposited in the folder, leaving you free to do with it as you wish.

For more ways to get the best out of your Google-powered device, take a look at how to set up Face ID on Android, how to copy and paste on Android and Android 10 tips & tricks.