Thanks to Microsoft’s new Settings app, Contacts + Message Backup, Windows Phone 8.1 users can now backup their contacts and SMS/MMS messages to a microSD card. This capability works in addition to the cloud-based backup functionality that’s already built into Windows Phone.
So why bother with a local backup? I assume that the idea here is that you can restore more quickly from a local backup, so if you have a huge contacts database or set of messages, this will get them onto a new phone (or the same phone if you reset it) more quickly than via the cloud.
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Obviously, you need a microSD card for this Settings app to work. If not, the app will appear in Settings (way down at the bottom) but will just note that it can’t find an SD card if you try to run it. I also installed this app on the Windows 10 Technical Preview 2 for phones but it wouldn’t run at all (it appears in Extras under Settings).
As you might expect, the app provides both backup and restore functions, and it creates a backup+restore folder on your microSD card that contains the data. That data is pretty portable, too: contacts are stored in VCF format, and messages are stored in an XML format alongside an attached files (photos and so on).
You can choose between contacts, SMS (text) messages and MMS (multimedia) messages when backing up and restoring.
And you can choose particular date ranges, too.
You can download Contacts + Message Backup from the Windows Phone Store. Remember: this is a Settings app, so it appears in Settings, not in your All Apps list.