Restoring your app purchases after a Windows Phone hard reset

So you are new to Windows Phone, loaded a ton of apps and games on to your phone and now face a hard reset that will wipe out everything. Or even better, you bought a new Windows Phone. The good news is that all the apps and games you’ve purchased won’t have to be re-purchased, as those licenses are linked to your Microsoft Account. The better news is that you can backup your app listings to make re-installing things a lot easier.

While many of the seasoned Windows Phone users already know this, we have a few discussions going on in the Windows Phone Central Forums asking about re-installing apps and games after a hard reset. WPCentral reader WaseemAkram poses that very question in this forums discussion and several readers quickly stepped up to offer reassurances that he would not have to re-purchase all his apps and games.

In the same discussion, we are reminded of the backup feature that is available in our Windows Phone settings. If you go to Settings, scroll down a bit and you will find a Backup section. Here you can create a backup file for your app list and settings, backup your text messages and turn on/off the SkyDrive auto-upload feature for your photos.

Everything from your theme color, Internet Explorer favorites and a list of all your apps/games will be backed up making restoring everything after a hard reset or transitioning to a new Windows Phone a lot easier.

The one downside to the backup is that it won’t save your Start Screen configuration. You’ll still need to configure that by hand after you get all your apps and games re-installed.

Backups and restores getting better

Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (build 10517 and later) makes things a bit easier by allowing you to choose your Wi-Fi connection before the account sync and restore process. This ensures that the downloading of apps and the restore go more quickly when you first boot up your new phone (previously, you connected to Wi-Fi after your restore, which was much more tedious).

Early reports also suggest that Windows Phone 8.1 will go much further with this backup/restore function, similar to how Windows 8.1 on the PC works now.

If you’ve had any experiences or additional tips on restoring your apps and games to a Windows Phone, feel free to jump into the discussion:

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.