Once upon a time, I was getting ready to give a presentation the next day at a conference about how I use my iPad as assistive technology, when my beloved tablet suffered global irreversible software failure and essentially became a brick less than twelve hours before I would be leaving to give my presentation. While I’m still not sure what caused this to happen, I wasn’t worried about losing any of my data because I had done a backup a few days earlier and knew exactly how to configure another iPad so that it would still have all of the accessibility settings I rely on. After one of my friends drove me to the Apple store less than an hour before closing time (thank you A!), I was able to set up a new device within an hour and give my presentation the next day with my new device. Here is how I back up mobile devices with low vision, including iOS and Android devices.
Creating a local backup on the computer
My iPad gets backed up to my computer at least once a month, where I can store a local backup in iTunes or iCloud that contains my device settings, photos, and other settings. I also back up copies of all of my EPUB books that are synced to eReading apps, which are organized in a folder on my computer. My Android phone can also have a backup stored on my computer or in my Google account.
Using a cloud storage provider for photos and other files
Books, photos, and videos are backed up to my OneDrive account for secure storage, since I get a large amount of storage (1 TB) with Microsoft 365. My photos are also backed up to Google Drive for safekeeping, as I do not want to worry about losing access to them if one cloud storage provider fails. Another bonus is that I can access these files from my computer as needed.
Writing a list of all of my accessibility settings/configurations
While my device settings theoretically are synced with my device backup, I prefer to keep a hard copy of how I have my accessibility settings configured, such as text size, color temperature, and other preferences. These are stored as a Word document on my computer, but since I run an assistive technology and low vision blog I also have them on my website as well so that others can use them for themselves. Documenting accessibility settings is especially important for screen reader users who have custom voice speeds and rotor gestures enabled- it’s nice to be able to get a device exactly how you want it.
- How I Document Accessibility Preferences With Low Vision
- How To Make iPad Accessible for Low Vision
- Low Vision Accessibility Settings For Android Phones
Syncing notes and calendars to an email account
I like to sync the notepad and calendar apps to my email account so that I can access them from any device and don’t have to worry about losing access to them. This can be configured in the Account settings section of the device.
Backing up text messages/MMS photos and transferring to a new device
Whenever I get a new Android phone, I always seem to have an issue with migrating MMS messages to the new device with Google’s default device migration tool. I use the SMS Backup and Restore app on Android and it works great for transferring SMS and MMS messages to a new device.
Cleaning and deleting old files as needed
To make device backups move more quickly, I make sure to regularly clean my devices by deleting old files that I no longer need, or I back them up to OneDrive and remove them from my device. This also helps to speed up my device in general.
Summary of how I back up mobile devices
- I back up a local copy of my device once a month to my computer
- Photos, videos, music, and books are backed up to a cloud storage provider
- I keep a written document that contains information about all of the accessibility and display settings on my device
- Notes and calendars are synced to my email
- Messages are backed up to an application on my phone and transferred to a new device as needed
- I delete old files when they are no longer needed to free up space on my device