You back up your organization's computers, so why shouldn't you back up your staffs' smartphones or tablets? It can be a tedious chore, but if you use mobile devices at your organization, it is likely there is valuable data stored on them.

And unlike a desktop computer, it is pretty easy to misplace or drop (and subsequently destroy) a smartphone or a tablet. Fortunately, backing up your contacts, photos, and apps is easier than ever.

In this three-part series, we'll walk you through backing up your mobile device. We'll start with Windows devices, but posts on Android and iOS phones and tablets will come in the following weeks. 

Backing Up Windows Phone

Dell smartphoneWindows Phone 8, Microsoft's next generation mobile operating system, has improved backup features from Windows 7. You can now easily back up your data by linking it to a personal Microsoft account (as you can do with Google Android).

This includes your SMS conversations, apps and app settings, call history, photos, theme, and Internet Explorer Favorites (bookmarks). You can change your backup settings by going to Settings > System > Backup.

Be aware that you cannot upgrade from Windows Phone 7 to 8; you must buy a new Windows 8 phone to get these features.

Windows Phone 7 lacks data backup, but Microsoft's cloud storage service, SkyDrive, is built into the operating system. Your photos and Microsoft Office documents are saved automatically to your SkyDrive account.

You can also download the free SkyDrive app, which lets you easily share and view your files or photos with others. The free SkyDrive account comes with 7GB of storage, but some phones come with more (depending on your phone and carrier).  

Eligible organizations can get an unlocked Dell Venue Pro smartphone for AT&T or T-Mobile. This 3G phone features a 4.1-inch display, full QWERTY keyboard, and a five-megapixel camera.

The Venue Pro can upgrade to Windows Phone 7.5, and comes with the Microsoft Office Mobile suite of apps.

Windows 8 and Windows RT Tablets

 Like Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets can use SkyDrive to back up files to the cloud.

Windows 8/RT tablets also have a feature called File History, a backup application that continuously protects your personal files stored in Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts folders.

File History periodically scans your file system and then backs up any changes to an external hard drive, network share (such as a NAS), or a Storage Space (Window 8's new RAID tool).

For more information on Windows 8's File History tool, read Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog on the new feature. Additionally, check out Paul Thurrott's thorough article on picking a backup strategy for your Windows 8 tablet.

There are also a handful of third-party apps to help you back up your Windows tablet. SugarSync, a popular backup app for smartphones, has a new app with a design inspired by the Windows 8 Start Screen.

The SugarSync service is a SkyDrive alternative that can store photos, documents, videos, music, and other files in the cloud. Dropbox is another cloud storage alternative to SkyDrive with an app for Windows 8.

More Resources

For more on disaster planning, visit our Disaster Planning resources page where you will find The Resilient Organization, TechSoup's disaster recovery guide, helpful articles, and products related to backup. For more on mobile apps, visit TechSoup's App It Up page.

Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.