How to Back up Contacts to Google

January 9, 2019 • Devin Partida


In an interconnected online world, you can communicate more easily than ever. Whether you’re calling a business associate, emailing an old colleague or texting your best friend, odds are you correspond with a lot of people every day.

With so many opportunities for communication, it makes sense that most people rely on technology to keep track of their contacts. After all, it’s a lot easier to tap the call button in a contacts app than it is to memorize every single phone number thrust your way.

What would happen if you lost all your stored contacts? Would you be able to recall any of the contact information you rely on? In most cases, the answer is probably not — or at least not all of it.

In order to ensure you’ll always have the contact information you need, it’s a good idea to back up your contacts, either online or elsewhere. Here’s how to back up contacts to Google from your Android or iPhone as well as how you can restore them if they are lost.

1. Sync Contacts by Adding a Google Account

Considering how many productivity tools Google produces, it’s rare to meet someone without a Google account. Even if you ignore some of the more obscure applications, there’s a good chance you use a Google account to access your email or other apps like YouTube.

If you have an Android phone, you probably received a prompt to link your Google account when you set up your device.

Conveniently, you can set up your contacts to sync with your Gmail account automatically. If you’ve linked your Google account to your phone already, there’s a chance your contacts are already backed up.

To check, open Gmail on a browser tab. Click the menu expansion in the top left and then select Contacts. If the contacts listed here match those on your phone, you should be good to go.

If your contacts aren’t already synced, that’s OK. You can add a Google account to your phone and set it to back up automatically. On Android, you can add an account under your phone’s settings app if necessary.

Then, in the settings menu, tap System > Backup. Here, you can turn on the option to back up data to Google Drive.

If you use an iPhone, you might not have a Google account on your phone. In this case, go to your phone’s settings, tap Contacts and scroll down to select Add Accounts. Once you’ve added an account, you can set your contacts to sync.

2. Import Contacts Manually Using an SD Card or Google Drive

If syncing your contacts doesn’t work, or if you would prefer to complete the process by hand, you can also import your contacts to Google manually. You can do this in several ways.

Your first option is to export your contacts to external storage and then import them to Google. To do this, you’ll need an SD card or access to USB storage.

First, open your contacts app. Then, open the menu and select Import/Export. Pick to export contacts to either SD card or USB storage. From here, you can import this data to your Gmail contacts.

Alternately, if you don’t have an SD card or USB storage device, you can use a similar method to migrate contacts to Google Drive. Just go to the Backup tab in Google Drive’s Settings.

3. Rewind Time in Gmail Using Restore Contacts

If all goes well, you’ll have backed up your contacts to your Google account, allowing you to access your contacts from any device whenever you want, even if the original device is lost or damaged.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to find your contacts more quickly when they’re stored online in one central location. Along with other tools like Google Chrome’s task manager, you’ll be able to use your stored contacts to work more efficiently.

Before you congratulate yourself and forget about backup for the rest of your life, though, you should know how to recover your contacts in Gmail if you ever lose them.

Google has built-in versioning that allows you to restore your contacts to an earlier state. Simply open Gmail’s main menu, click Contacts, select More and click Restore Contacts.

You’ll then have the option to roll back your contacts to any saved state within the last 30 days, so you can easily retrieve accidentally deleted contacts.

Never Get Caught Without Your Contacts

Electronic storage and backup for your contacts is extremely useful. After you’ve backed up your contacts with Google, you can use them across devices — you can send a text on your phone, type out a quick email on your laptop or even make a call on your smart speaker.

Your connections are an important part of your life. Make sure to back up your information to ensure you’ll never get caught without your contacts.