Regular Android Phone Maintenance - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Relax. Unlike draining the lawnmower’s oil once a year, regular maintenance of an Android phone doesn’t require a drip pan or a permit from the EPA. In fact, an Android phone requires only two basic regular maintenance tasks: cleaning and backing up.

Keeping it clean

You probably already keep your phone clean. Maybe you use your sleeve to wipe the touchscreen at least a dozen times a day. Of course, better than your sleeve is something called a microfiber cloth. This item can be found at any computer- or office-supply store.

  • Never use ammonia or alcohol to clean the touchscreen. These substances damage the phone. Use only a cleaning solution specifically designed for touchscreens.

  • If the screen continually gets dirty, consider adding a screen protector. This specially designed cover prevents the screen from getting scratched or dirty while still allowing you to interact with the touchscreen. Ensure that the screen protector you obtain is intended for use with your specific phone.

  • You can also find customized cell phone cases, belt clips, and protectors, which can help keep the phone looking spiffy. Be aware that these items are mostly for decorative or fashion purposes and don’t even prevent serious damage should you drop the phone.

Backing up your phone

A backup is a safety copy of the information on your phone. It includes any contact information, music, photos, videos, and apps you’ve recorded, downloaded, or installed, plus any settings you’ve made to customize your phone. Copying this information to another source is one way to keep the information safe, in case anything happens to the phone.

On your Google account, information is backed up automatically. This information includes your Contacts list, Gmail messages, and Calendar app appointments. Because Android phones automatically sync this information with the Internet, a backup is always present.

To confirm that your phone’s information is being backed up, heed these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Choose your Google account.

    It’s listed under the Accounts heading.

    On some Samsung phones, touch the General tab, choose the Accounts item, and then choose Google on the Accounts screen.

  3. Touch the green Sync icon by your Gmail address.


  4. Ensure that a check mark appears by every item for your account.

    Where a check mark doesn’t appear, touch the square to add one.

Adding the check marks ensures that those items are synchronized (backed up) between your phone and your Google account on the Internet.

Likewise, if you’re using Yahoo! or some other account, repeat these steps but in Step 2 choose that account.

Updating the System

Every so often, a new version of your phone’s operating system becomes available. It’s an Android update because Android is the name of the phone’s operating system, not because your phone thinks that it’s a type of robot.

Whenever an update occurs, an alert or a message appears on the phone, indicating that a system upgrade is available. Your choice is to install immediately or put it off. As long as the phone has a decent charge and you don’t need to shut it off right away, install the update.

  • Some Samsung phones can be updated only by using the Kies program on a computer. You can attempt to upgrade the phone by itself, but if that fails, connect the phone to a computer running the Kies program to complete the upgrade.

  • You can manually check for updates: In the Settings app, choose About Phone or About Device. Touch the System Updates item and then the Check Now button. You probably won’t find an update pending; they’re downloaded automatically based on the whims of your phone’s manufacturer and cellular service provider. Still, it’s fun to touch the Check Now button and dream that you have a modicum of power.