Fire Backup & Restore Test, And Results

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Fire Backup & Restore – What Does It REALLY Do?

The new Fire Backup & Restore feature is intended to help restore settings and screen layouts on your Fire in the event you ever have to do a factory reset. Backup & Restore came built into the operating system for the lastest Fire tablet models and was also included in the software update that 2013 models received earlier this year.

I’ve previously discussed the feature in my post: Is There Any Way To Backup App Progress On A Fire Tablet? But that post only addressed what Amazon’s help pages say about it. More recently I’ve become involved in some discussions on Amazon about this, and ultimately ended up doing an actual test of Backup & Restore on a Fire HD6 tablet. Not only did it NOT restore my installed content (e.g., apps, books, etc.), it didn’t restore my device and screen settings either.

It DID save my place in the one video I had downloaded to the device before the reset, which is surprising since this ISN’T one of the things the Backup & Restore help page says will be backed up. But it didn’t re-download the video to the device, when I open the video it just streams directly from Amazon via WiFi.

There IS a way to do a true and complete backup and restore that will include most app progress, but it’s time-consuming and tedious and requires a lot of attention to detail. If you want or need to give it a go, I’ve written some how-tos. Here are the relevant links:

Surviving A Kindle Fire Factory Reset – With Most Of Your Stuff Intact

Upgrading To A New Kindle Fire: How To Copy Content From An Old Fire To A New One


The Step-By-Step Breakdown

Here’s the step-by-step for what I did (so you can judge for yourselves if my process was sound), in order, and the results.

1. Deleted as much content from the device as possible, to make the backup smaller and faster.

2. Checked my progress level in the one installed app (Bejeweled 2) where I knew there was a save file (I was on level 3).

3. Checked my progress in the Amazon Instant Video that was downloaded to the device (Ocean’s 11, about halfway through).

4. Wrote down a list of the items that were on the device carousel, so I could verify what was there after the Restore.

5. Checked each of the ‘Device’ content menus to ensure nothing else was installed on / downloaded to the device.

6. Did the backup (Settings > Device > Backup & Restore) and waited for it to finish. Took about 2.5 minutes.

7. Did the factory reset.

8. When the HD6 restarted after the reset, I re-connected it to my WiFi network and re-registered it to my Amazon account when prompted.

9. I selected the “HD6 Backup” file for Restore when I was prompted during the registration/setup process.

10. Initially, the carousel came up totally empty, and so did all the ‘Device’ and ‘Cloud’ content menus—except for the apps that come pre-installed with the operating system.

11. Waited 10 minutes to see if my content would populate and when it didn’t, called Amazon Fire tech support.

12. While on hold with tech support, the Carousel began to re-popuate. But it re-populated as if it were a brand new Fire, with a bunch of recent purchases that were NOT on the Carousel before the reset and were NOT previously downloaded to the device. I had to manually delete them all, one by one.

13. Tech support person came on the line briefly to see if the previously installed/downloaded things were starting to show up, when I told her no, she put me back on hold to do further research. By the time she came back I was starting to see my Cloud libraries show up again on the various content menus, so I told her I’d just wait for everything to come back and if I needed further help I’d call again.

14. After about a total of 15 minutes wait time since the Carousel came back up, Oceans 11 showed up on it. When I tapped it the movie opened right where I left off, but when I checked the Videos > Device menu on the HD6 there are no videos shown as installed on the device. That means Oceans 11 was merely streaming across WiFi, no local copy had been re-downloaded to the HD6.

15. After that I saw that two of the three apps that were previously installed had shown up on the Carousel. When I tapped the first one (where I’d been on level 3) I saw that it started a download, with a progress bar showing, just like when you first download an app. I hoped it was showing me Restore progress, but I was wrong. It re-downloaded a brand new copy, putting me right back at the initial startup screen a brand new player would see.

16. Recall that I had two other apps installed before the Backup & Restore, but with no game progress. They also eventually showed up on the carousel (many minutes later) but were also not installed to the device. Tapping on either one initiated a brand-new download.

17. After waiting about 25 minutes since the Restore, the one audiobook I originally had on the carousel still isn’t there. All I saw for it is a gray square with a black icon of headphones on it. It may still show up eventually, but I got tired of waiting for it.



So there you have it: the built-in Backup & Restore function doesn’t really work, not even for the things it’s supposed to do. At least, as of this writing.

I hope that Amazon will continue working on this feature, because it’s one that most Fire owners wish were available. If I get wind of any improvements, I’ll be sure to let my readers know.


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And now…

the WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive with Auto Backup – Black is the one terabyte (read: HUGE amount of space) version of the same portable, external backup drive I own and use. Western Digital has been a trusted name in hard drives among techies like me for decades. This particular item has an average review rating of 4.5/5 stars across over 5,500 customer reviews, and it’s currently being offered at $69.79—that’s 30% off its usual price of $99.99, and it’s eligible for Prime shipping as well.


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Fire Tip of the Week: Whispersync For Voice: How To Ensure Kindle & Audible Editions Match Up

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  1. Comment by John Row:

    Thanks April. I was instructed by an Amazon customer service rep to do a deregister – reregister . I mentioned having a lot of downloaded items around 9 gbs . They insisted that all my stuff would reappear on my device. To tust him. Needless to say I had to spend another large amount of time and effort to re download.

  2. Comment by Kelly:

    My kindle turns itself off at 65% I have spent a lot of real money on in app purchases on my games and really don’t want to have wasted it. Is there anything else besides a factory reset. Do you think that a factory reset will even solve the problem?

    • Comment by Mom:

      How old is your Fire, and has the battery ever been damaged by heat, cold, or (potentially) overcharging?

      Even if battery damage seems an unlikely factor for you, all rechargeable batteries have a limited number of charging cycles available and that number varies by use and operating conditions. If your Fire’s older than about 2 years and you’ve been using it regularly all during that time, it’s likely your battery’s capacity has simply been reduced through normal wear and tear—which doesn’t just affect remaining battery life, but available power to the device. In that case, a factory reset won’t help anyway. If this sounds like your scenario, you should be able to continue to use the device indefinitely by plugging it into an electrical outlet when using it. You can also turn to portable, rechargeable battery banks/chargers for those times when you’ll be away from an outlet.

      There’s no Amazon-supported replacement battery available, and I don’t recommend going with replacement batteries available from outside vendors. They may not work, they may actually damage your device, and they may prompt a total reset of the device anyway.