Error with your Windows Phone OS backups? Here is how to get them back on track

One of the great features in Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to restore from a backup when setting up a new device. Everything from your Start screen layout to the apps themselves and even some settings can all be 'restored' if you ever change devices, or wish to hard-reset and start anew.

However, a few people have noticed that under Settings > Backup, there is an error message noting that the last backup attempt has failed. Even more worrisome, you may not even know it. Yikes! The good news is there is a fast and simple way to get this fixed, and you may want to double check that your OS is backed up. Here's how.

The problem

Take a quick moment to make sure your automatic backups are enabled and sticking. To do so, just go into settings:

  • Settings
  • Backup
  • Apps + Settings (tap)

Under this section, you should notice that Settings backup is toggled 'on' as well as App backup. Next, you should see the name of your device along with a 'last backed up' message telling you how many hours or days ago the last backup took place.

If there is a problem with your backups, the section under the name of your device (often just 'Windows Phone') displays an error message. See the above image for reference.

From experience, it appears that those using the Preview for Developers program at a higher risk for this taking place, possibly to do with all of the OS updates. I noticed it on my Lumia 1520 a few weeks ago, although since I fixed it the issue has not returned.

The fix

If you do have an error message under your Apps + Settings backup, you can easily fix it and get another backup started. Here's how:

  1. Under Apps + Settings tap 'Manage backups' near the bottom
  2. The OS checks for the backups on your OneDrive account
  3. Tap 'Delete' near the bottom to wipe the previous, error-prone backup

Congratulations, you should have just nixed the bad data file causing the problem. Still, you are now left vulnerable as you do not have a current backup to resort to, in case something goes wrong. Let's fix that:

  • On the Apps + Settings screen, tap 'back up now' near the bottom

The process should take a few minutes, depending on how many apps and games you have installed. There is a progress bar displayed to let you know far along you are in the process. Once completed, you the new 'last backup' information should reflect today's date.

So take the extra moment to see if your backups are sticking, especially if you are in the Preview for Developers program and have been updating your device numerous times. If you do not have an error message, at least you now know what to look for in case one does pop up!

Did this not fix your problem? Then you may have something else going on, which is more severe. You may want to jump into our help forums for more information.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • I've tried that and it still throws an error at the end of the fresh backup.
    Oh well.
    Kinda bummed that I deleted my previous backup for when I move to a 1520 very soon.
  • Some apps like Live Lockscreen beta, wallpapers, apps that for some reason are failing to update in the Store are some of the stuffs that cause this kind of problems. Also, in my experience the backup is not 1 or 0. One of my friends managed to get up to 97% and then the process failed, checking the amount of the space used in Onedrive for the backup I noted that there was some information. After the hard reset most of his stuff was restored perfectly. At least in my experience.
  • Yep, Live Lock screen messes up your backup process. Also setting a wallpaper with a huge file size messes up the backup process. I forgot the exact size, but after you set to a smaller size wallpaper, everything goes well. Hope this helps :D
  • I have found that the region setting can make your backups fail all the time. I used USA for Cortana, but needed to put it back to Netherlands to,make,backups work. Maybe it must be the same region as MS account...
  • Hey can you guys help me? I've uninstalled facebook and I'm trying to download it again and it fails to install. What do I do?
  • Off topic. Go to the forums.
  • Uninstall Lock Screen beta, set one of the factory low res lock screens and turn off your start screen background. I had to do all three of these things as well as delete my backup from the cloud to get mine syncing again.
  • I don't use the live lock screen, my lock screen is set to Bing, (but I've tried changing the photo and whatnot too,) and I don't use a start screen background. I'm sure it's an app, probably a beta. (Betas always tend to screw up the glance screen anyway.) Oh well. No backups for me.
  • Are all your regional settings, from region, language, speech, etc all set to the home region of your Microsoft account? Others below have had issues with this.
  • US phone, US account, backup worked before 8.1 DP. Hasn't worked for me since. Another factory reset might probably fix it, but I'm moving to a new phone soon (and I don't have the backup anymore) as my 920 screen is cracked so I don't mind starting fresh. (Like I even have a choice...)
  • Setting the lock screen wallpaper to something lesser than 1MB might help. I was facing the same problem but got the backup after changing the lock screen wallpaper. Hope this helps! :)
  • thank you soooooo much!   you saved my day!
  • When ever u try to back up it says -"Some of the App wont be working"   Check which app is not working-(Mine was due to Whatsapp)   Uninstall that app and than try to back up.It should work   Worked for me.    
  • Ok nice
  • This steps didn't solved the backup problem for me. :(
  • Let me guess... Your green 1520 is the Hulk?
  • Not had a successful backup since 8.1 update 1. Done these steps and others repeatedly without success.
  • I've found that the live lock screen beta will cause the backups to fail. Remove that app, reboot and try to backup again.
  • ^^^THIS^^^ Fixed both my 1020 and 1520 backups...
  • before that app existing, my 625 still get that error
  • Using high res images for your lock screen and wallpaper can cause the issue too.
  • Well..can but doesn't have to. It started to fail for me with wp 8.1 . Now the backup size isb400 mb but it says it failed. Didn't change settings other than region for that. Failed still after changing back to UK clearly it is not so clear why it fails
  • I can confirm. And reboot of the phone after having uninstalled Live Lock Screen Beta is compulsory for this to work.
  • Doesn't work for my 1520. Neither does changing certain settings said to affect the backup process. Always fails at 99%. Even after the Cyan update.
  • Are you on DP?
  • I did this a few days ago and it fixed my problem, the only thing I dont't like is the size of my backup it was 197 MB, then 202 MB, can't remember if it went down to 5.7 MB before or after I deleted the old backup, but now I have a 2.33 MB backup. (Lumia 620 DP 8.10.14147.180)
  • That didn't fix mine, so I reinstalled 8.1 without developer preview (folders etc.). I already tried that days ago. Also, for 1520 users on developer preview, Nokia Playto is broken again, but is fixed if you roll back.
  • Looks like my backups are okay, but is there a way to backup text messages if you share a Live account (like for the store)? Coming from the 7.x days, the only way I knew to install apps on multiple devices was to use the same main Live account. If that's changed w/ 8.x, I've missed it and will rectify it. However in the meantime all text messages backed up from one device get restored nightly on the other - not the expected/intended behavior though much cooler than the 7.x lack of any sort of useful backup option.
  • It's never worked with my Lumia 810. Goes all the way to 97% before saying "a problem" happened. I've tried deleting the existing file, turning off app and text backups, and using WiFi.
  • Same!
  • +920
  • I restored my ativ s backup to my icon now it seems like the device name change didnt stick cause its still calling it an ativ s when I connect it to my pc. & i cant connect to it with the dev unlock registration tool
  • this has been very frustrating for me. This started happening on my ATIV S NEO. I'm not sure when, but it was probably after I updated to DP, then did a reset. If I change it, after a reboot it will reset back to ATIV S NEO. A number of other settings don't persist either, like ringtones. I think there are others but I've forgotten by now. I haven't tried using the dev unlock tool in awhile.
  • I need this when I get my hands on 830. Can the back up sense my apps installed with SD card thus no need to download them again?
  • i did backup on my 625, then i checked it at onedrive account it says that my backup was updated with the same date i did that.. so, i worried to hard reset my 625 cause, it says when i did that showing "error bla bla bla"
  • I hope there would be back up options on the windowsphone app on pc..
  • I had this problem a month ago, and the WP support on twitter helped mr out, and did what you said. It works. :)
  • Victim.... This would have been nice when I was downgrading from DP 8.1 to 8.0 to get 8.1 Update 1... I don't recall getting the error... But my back up restored from just before I installed DP 8.1... Thanks for the info though, much appreciated!
  • I got my first and only ever successful backup just prior to doing the "downgrade to 8.0 and install Cyan" procedure. Every other time before or since has died at 97%. Not sure how I was lucky exactly once.
  • @Daniel Rubino I had the same problem a couple weeks ago I did exactly what you wrote but its been 3 weeks since that and that's what appears last backup 3 weeks ago.. I try to backup again and receive error message. It's annoying deleting backups.
  • Think this should do various backups. Having just one is madness
  • Even if it fails, it still backs up though.
  • This happened to me 2 months ago. With the same way solution that i saw somewhere in the web forum, I manage to backup ny phone.
  • worth noting that even if it throws an error, it may still backed up properly. my 920 gave me an error, but I said screw it and erased my phone. still restored with no issues.
  • Tried this fix last week. Didn't work. The solution was.......... Swap my phone. Also solved the weird loud vibrate buzz I had #Lumia930
  • The Hulk ... Can't even imagine which phone it's this ...
  • Awesome! Have had that backup error for nearly 6 months. The fix worked perfectly, thanks!
  • Took off the live lock screen, restarted, and tried to back it up again. That seemed to do the trick.
  • DO NOT take this advice. The problem is almost NEVER the current backup on OneDrive. The problem is an app on your phone. Figure out which app it is. Don't risk your data by deleting what might be your only backup. Start with Live Lockscreen Beta. Then try removing other newer apps. Report which one or ones solve the problem to help others. For me, it was just Live Lockscreen Beta.
  • Is there any app yet, that takes use of this? My backup works, but counts for only a few hundred kilobytes.
  • So happy. My Icon comes tomorrow.
  • I'm not having backup problems. But when I've downgraded to install Cyan it just didn't restored my Start Screen Layout. So sad that it isn't working.
  • When is this app going to have a backup for offline list
  • Dan, I still would like to know if there is formal "List" of Application/Games that support backup. This big deal about app/game settings being saved but, nothing for info ever showed up. I dont even know if there is 1 app in the marketplace that supports this feature. Thanks !
  • ^^^THIS^^^ But I'm almost sure that none of my games is backed up with all my savings except for those universal cross-platform that already use OneDrive (like Halo: SA)...
  • +920
  • Live lock screen beta was causing the problem for me. Uninstalled the app, restarted the phone and it worked! Lumia 1520, 8.1 DP update 1
  • Oh, this weekend I have had terrible errors with the backups. I needed to install 8.1 in my wife's 720 phone, then I used nokia recovery tool, because it had 8.1 dp.  I already backup everything with all the settings backed up, apps and messages. I restored just after the recovery tool with the fresh cyan 8.1.   All the apps on sd, where "lost", so I needed to download again all of them, but the worst part was the "people" contacts.  They were empty.  One day after the update it did not put one single contact.  So I did a hard reset again to try to get all the contacts (I checked that they were present).  This time I get all the contacts, but a lot of them duplicated, when I click the "ghost" contact it reopens the people hub, and when I click the other contact it shows the info of the contact as expected, sometimes it is the first one, and sometimes it is the second one, I don't know how to fix this huge problem.  In the site there are not duplicates as they are shown on the phone.  I may be trying to do a third restore, but it is a pain because I need to redownload a lot of applications again, I cannot understand why they don't enable to resuse the already downloaded and installed apps in the SD.  And why there is no option to resync the contacts from the outlook account without doing a full reset. Too much problems I didn't expected !!
  • Just curious, how large are your backups? Mines only about 15kb. That's seems rather small. Using 822 with 8.1 DP Update 1
  • Pffft 15 kb I only have 4 kb on mine :P but yes it is rather strange. I don't think it's backing up the settings and apps at all. Either that or they're doing a fantastic job at compressing lol
  • Or maybe its an encrypted file that stores primary key pointers to backup data already stored on the back end. I don't think their compression is that good to have a file size that small. It's possible though. Would mainly like to know if file sizes from 4kb-15kb are normal. The last hard reset I did for update 1 didn't restore everything properly and I definitely did backups all the time.
  • I hope this works, my last backup says 4 months, at least on my phone it does. If I go to Onedrive online and check what's been backed up, my phone will show the correct date I last tried to backup, so it seems to be throwing an error on the phone but its actually backing up correctly. Now, it would be nice if I could backup text messaging, but whenever that gets turned on, my Live Account and Twitter stop syncing and does not recognize me with my Microsoft Account, almost as if it signs me out, although I know that cant be done without a hard reset.
  • How do we change name of our phone and the backup too??
  • Thanks for the tip. Had this issue since months, now I could finally back the stuff up.
  • I can't even do an app back up help! :'(
  • Mine throws this error after 100%
  • Worked for me, thank you!
  • After 8.1 cyan, I did restore from backup, all settings restored but could not get screen layout back on my Lumia 920.., any idea why?
  • No, the method in the article failed to work on my 8.1 dp 720 when tried, my resolution was a bricked phone after trying nsrt, taking it back to the carriers shop and after a week getting it back with a new serial number and the phone returned with 8.0, after that installing cyan and 8.1 officially finally resolving failed backups.
  • i just make a back up , and it works smooth
  • I did that to restore my apps after having a hard reset.
  • I have tried all possible solutions, still not to ablebto take a full backup.
  • Forums here I come. :(
  • This didn't work for me. I did all this and no luck. I had to disable Live Lock Screen Beta first. Then it worked
  • So if I'm getting this, he's saying to delete all old backups & then try backing up again? I've tried this several times but still doesn't complete the backup. It always goes to 96% , then freezes and eventually fails. Very frustrating! Also, I don't have live lock screen installed. Att L 1520. Has anyone with this phone been able to successfully do a backup? If so, any suggestions? Also, I wonder if I still have96% backed up or if nothing at all is backed up since it fails at 96%?
  • When text messages restored in my mobile after a hard reset, messages from mobile nos. were restored successfully. But messages which came from different service providers like banks, credit card, insurance agency (without a number) were mixed with one another. Some 10-15 threads became 2-3 threads only.
  • thats all fine and dandy but what about those of us that are having problems syncing when we accidentally delete a months woth of texts and wont sync anymore? 
  • I remembered having tried deleting past backup and still failed to backup. Must be some apps causing it to fail. Oh well, I took the risk downgrading from DP Update1 to Cyan anyways. Start with a clean slate. The only bummber is lossing my WhatsApp chat history which I taught was backed up into their own server. But, actually was backup into phone's memory! 
  • Before deleting the old backup, check that all your apps are updated. This happened to me a week ago and I updated all my apps and the backup completed successfully
  • This didn't work for me on my Lumia 635. Uninstalling Live Lock Screen Beta and rebooting the phone didn't help either.
  • Nothing on here is working. Stuck at 99% before it fails.
  • Thanks for the tip. Works for my phone, it's been bugging me for the past month. I assumed it was something to do with moving apps from the phone to a SD card.
  • Thanks it worked
  • i think i messed things up by moving my backup from an (wp8.1 gdr1 on my 920) to (wp8.1 on my 930) thats when errors started. i think my new device didnt know how to handle my folders and other stuff.....
  • I ran into this error when I tried to back up my phone before downgrading my phone to Cyan from the developer preview. Did the exact same thing, and it worked.
  • 180 MB of my 3g data plan has been spent and still no backup
  • I had this problem and I solved as described in the guide...
  • Thanks for that Daniel. I am buying a new phone today and after reading the article I noticed that my phone didn't back up for about one month. When I then tried to make a back up I got an error message but after deleting, the backup worked fine.
  • Daniel Rubino There are very good deal in France, the Nokia Lumia 625 is to only 109€ 139€-30€ with the website of the French operator Free please post my article. The device is not branded.the device have LTE 4G,8gb of internal storage with SDXC support,1,2ghz dual-core,4,7 inch...
  • I am also getting the same error on my 925. I tried the following steps mentioned in the article but still gives me the error after 96%.
    Please suggest a way around on this anyone.
  • Quick question about photos and videos backup. Does it sync your photos from your phone i.e. if you take 5 photos then delete 4 of them on your phone, is this reflected on the backup or does it just upload them? Because when I first got my 920 it used to just upload them which left my onedrive in a mess.
  • Ow....that's just great... Now the backup progress hangs forever at 12% after deleting the problematic one... #sigh 
  • This advice 'tip' has been around for ages now but in most cases for 8.1 Pre f Dev users it just does not work. Backups always stall at around 96 or 97% with the "There was a problem ..." error message. Checking OneDrive backups seems to show some sort of backup was taken but it is still a risk deleting and and we continue to wait for MSFT to fix this issue so that WP has a backup/restore process that is reliable and works properly.
  • Agreed 100%.
    Do hope such fix can be applied without needing the backup.
    For unknown reasons my 8.10.14147.180 install fails to see the next 8.10.14157.200 build. Seems like not only the backup-, but also the update mechanism is broken?!?
  • Have the issue here as well on my 1020 8.1 update 1 preview.
    Seems the problem started after the 8.0 roll back to get cyan.
    Also deleting the backup through OneDrive webinterface does not solve. However the new created backup fails at 98% there seems to be quite some settings stored at OneDrive.
    Lock screen image or Lock screen app beta ruled out as a cause.
  • Finally, after about 50 mins, my new backup completed without problems. I'm on a Lumia 1020 (EU) with the Dev Preview up to WP8.1.1
    Seems this tip resolved the issue after all... Ow; and I deleted Live Lockscreen already some time ago: it's a horrific resource hog that slows your phone down and doesn't add enough added value at all for me...
  • If only it was posted last night, just before I update to Cyan form PFD :(
    My restored backup was April 2014
  • No, it doesn't work! This isn't the solution..
  • It worked for me some weeks ago (Dev. Preview)
  • Using defaults for Lock screen (no beta downloads). Running most recent DP version + Cyan on my 1020. "Your last backup was 7 hours ago". 256MB. No worries.
  • I taught I am the only one who's getting the error backup thing. So I guess I know the problem and how to fix it. I hope in the next grdr2 update in dev preview will fix this problem
  • I followed the articles steps with no luck. I'm on a 930 with 8.1 Update 1 DP and Live Lockscreen. I just disabled Live lockscreen by going into the lockscreen setting and putting a normal one in and voila, my backup completed. I did not need to uninstall the Live Lockscreen app. However my backup is exactly the same size as a failed one at 971kb which doesn't seem right but as far as the system's concerend I backed up ok. I hope that helps someone :)
  • I was having this problem.  It finally worked after uninstalling Asphalt 8, BBM and Facebook Beta.  I don't know which was the culprit but one of these was definitely causing the issue.
  • The backup feature is just plain shit right now. I had a 920 for work, did a backup the night before my swap and 30mins prior to my swap the next morning. I activated a new Icon and when I went to restore my backup, the only 1 it saw was from 4 or 5 months prior. Totall bullshit MS. However I never had the problem mentioned in this article...
  • The way I fixed the backup problem with my Lumia 1520.2 w/Win8.1 Update 1 (Live Lock Screen installed and set to change every 4 hrs. , no BBM app and getting Update 1 through Developers Program) was to change the standard picture you see when you shut your phone off (the blue one with water and a dock) to another one - under Settings/System/Lock Screen/Change photo - i chose the plain blue grainy pattern from the standard background folder - and all works fine now. Fixed same problem on wife's L920 this way also. Seems backup has a problem with that standard photo for some reason.
  • Thank you for this post! I fixed my Lumia 920 (Black, DP 8.1 Update 1 & Live Lock Screen) backups using your exact process. For others curious, my failed backups all went to 100% and were 102MB-103MB (received error message) and the successfully completed backup was a little over 105MB (showed my phone's Device Name).
  • Backups hadn't happened for 3 months... >>didn't work-->Turn off Live Lock; didn't uninstall it.
    >>didn't work --> Deleting Old backups (760MB backup) >>did work --> Changing the lock screen image
    from the stock "blue waves on shore at night" a personal picture. (712MB backup) I tried again and backup worked. (Windows Phone 8.1 update- 8.10.14203 - cyan, Win Dev Preview active)
  • Had the problem and didn't even know it!
  • Extras and info have benn updated
  • This doesn't work for me either, what a joke. Such a good OS yet it has massive, basic problems like this still.
  • Still getting the error message :(
  • After deleting Live Lockscreen, changing my lockscreen to a stock image, and deleting my background image - the backup process still failed. So I took a leap of faith and deleted my backup files, and it finally worked - after 5 months I have a new backup! That deserves a whoop whoop! :)
  • I had this problem since I updated to WP 8.1.1 the fix has worked.
  • Thank you! I'd been worried about this one for months and just thought I'd have to live with it because I'm using the DP. These instructions worked for me.
  • Tell us something we didn't already figure out months ago.
  • Worked successfully, thnx, backups in sync.
  • Worked! Thanks Daniel! It used to give me an error at 97%. After I applied the fix and started a new backup it slowed down again on 97% and I thought to myself "Sh*t! It didn't work..." but I still waited until the end and after a few minutes it worked :D
  • Finally
    I follow these steps and I was able to do a Backup of my settings & stuff. The funny part is that It didn't work using WiFi; I had to use my mobile data to do so... It wasn't that bad. When I checked my backups at Onedrive, I had it there. Thanks for the tips.
    Lumia 1020 w/ PFD - OS v8.10.14203.306 and Lumia Cyan
  • Thanks, this helped with my L1520 and developer preview 8.1.1.
  • The method works well on my 930! First, delete your old backup. Second, delete your wallpaper and get a non-picture Start. then backup, it worked.
  • i have the same problem it stops at 97% i'm using a lumia 1020 on cyan. Have deleted my old back up and got now 17% before stoping!!! nice ..... Second try, took of the hires photo from my lock screen and try again ,we shall see.Almost a hour and slowly goes up to 36% keeping my fingers crosed. Really that is something microshoft has to solve.I 'm missing the old Ovi suite.
  • no way nothing works it seams i can no longer take a screen shot... i nead to make a factory reaset and the back up is holding me down. If i go straight for the hard reset i loose my contacts and my notes . The best thing to do is wait till monday and then change the 1020 with a sony z 3 ....
  • I've had backup problems (error after 97 %) for the last five months and tried many of the solutions on the net, to no avail. Just now, I got it to work by doing the following: - Uninstalled apps: Lockscreen BETA, TETRA Lockscreen, WhatsApp, Preview For Developers - Set lock screen photo to one of the defaults - Remove background photo (which also removes transparent tiles) -.Deleted previous backuos - Restarted phone (after all the above) I don't know which one of the above was the cause of the failed backups, but after the above steps (all together), it worked for me. I don't care too much about my WhatsApp messages though.
  • Did not work for my Lumia 520. Several time it stucked at 96% and one time showed 98% but showing the same error. Any other ways to eliminate the error. Plz comment Thanks
  • Same problem on my Lumia 930 (Denim). Really disappointed that, of all things, they release it with a Backup function that so easily fails. I did one backup when I got the phone a couple of months ago. After Denim, the backup stops at 97% if I try a Settings+App backup, but at 96% if I try a Settings backup without App backup selected. Looking a the hints here, I changed my Lock screen background from the Videobrary app to "Photo", and now a Settings+Apps backup stops at 99% instead of 97%. A Settings only backup still stops at 96%, though. And the only thing we can use for troubleshooting is the progress bar - there's not even a backup log to be found anywhere? You know, so we could be told "Backup stopped while processing email settings" or something. Anything. Not impressed, Microsoft. Not at all.
  • 630 Denim (ex DevPrev) - 97% then fail. /me wonders if MS will ever sort this out...
  • No edit button? :/ Anyway, just deleted all old backups & tried again. It finally completed, so YAY! & many thanks to Daniel! (Shame I lost some settings/highscores/etc. in the interim while troubleshooting - but at least it's fixed now...)
  • So mine supposedly worked the second time but when I checked under manage backups it shows 0 space used on OneDrive, the previous backup that I deleted was 400+ MB.  So fucking complicated, god damn Windows!
  • unfortunately none of the suggestions worked bite me microsoft. i've been stuggling with this issues since my 520-535-640 i guess backups aren't important.