Back-Up Your Data

Data is messy. It accumulates like dirty laundry on the floor. It's thrown haphazardly across phones, apps, computers, emails, texts, websites. It's easy to ignore our data, thinking we could easily retrieve it in a time of crisis. But unless you have a clear back-up solution in place, you risk losing your data when you need it most. It's possible that a controlling partners will delete, alter, or hide sensitive data. When pursuing legal action, an old text conversation or photo could be necessary evidence for your case. And if your back-ups aren't properly secured, your personal photos and information could be leaked across the internet. To protect your data, you must consider where that data lives and how it can be preserved, as well as your personal safety. Evaluate each of the following strategies based on whether your back-up solutions must be private, or if they'll shared with your partner.

Texts and Phonecalls

  • If you need text and call history for a legal case, contact your wireless provider for printed transcripts of your activity. Be prepared with your wireless account details. It would help to have a Domestic Violence professional assist you, as there could be legal hurdles in acquiring this data.
  • Download an app to export your history. Phoneview for iOS and MyPhoneExplorer for Android are productivity apps that can transfer text, phone, contact, and other kinds of data for your computer. Unfortunately, these apps are not free.
  • Chances are your texting app can automatically sync your texts to your cloud. If you have a cloud back-up, enable this feature.
  • You can often forward text messages to another phone or email address. Check your texting app to see if this feature is available; you can forward to yourself, a trusted friend or family member, or anyone else that you think could safely hold onto your texts.
  • For less informal back-ups, take screenshots of important conversations or call records. Note that this would be fairly unreliable in a legal situation, as screenshots are easily manipulated.


Your strategy for preserving email history depends on whether your partner is likely to interfere with your email account. Fortunately, email is one of the most easily protected kinds of data. You can forward emails to a new email address to ensure they are protected; this can be a secret email address, created without your partner's knowledge, or just another email address only you have access to. With an email client on your computer, like the default mail apps Mail on OS X or Mail on Windows, you have an option to archive all of your emails. You can then copy this archive to your back-up service


Most of our photos come from our phones, so your strategy will depend on how you typically back-up your phone. If you have a cloud enabled, then configure your photos app to sync to the cloud (be aware of this setting, however, if you find yourself taking any particularly private photographs that you don't want saved forever). You can copy also your photos to your computer when you connect your phone. Then, you can store these photos in your back-up service. Alternatively, you could always text or email important photos to a trusted recipient.

Back-Up Services

Apple offers iCloud and Google offers Google Drive for automatic cloud syncing. This will back-up your texts, photos, and other data from both phone and computer without having to put much thought into it. While this is the simplest solution, know that whomever has access to your cloud also has access to all of your data. Should you want to keep your partner out, make sure you use our Protect Your Passwords and Two-Step Verification defense strategies to prevent hacking. You can also use a file-hosting service like DropBox to sync files from your computer and phone to the cloud—this approach is ideal if you need to secretly back-up your data, as you can create an account privately without permanently integrating it into your phone or computer. If you're not in a position to separate your data from your partner, and want to prevent data from being backed-up, selectively disable syncing in your apps when you need to, or use apps that aren't connected to the cloud.