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One of the most uncomfortable things that can happen with your Garmin watch is when you have to restart or replace it, you have to go through the entire setup process again. But there is a little trick to make a backup of your Garmin, although you won't get rid of having to do some configuration. You'll be able to recover sports profile settings, but you'll need to re-pair sensors, download apps, music, etc.
You should always keep a backup copy of your watch because, unlike Suunto and Polar (which are set up from the web application, so the watch is automatically configured after syncing it again), with Garmin all settings reside internally in memory.
If you don't have it, it's not a matter of life or death, it's just for convenience. This copy will not only be useful when making an update where things don't go as we might expect, but also in cases like sending your watch to be replaced, it breaks down and you go with a new one or just in case you want to make a complete restoration.
Garmin backup. Which models are supported
Almost all Garmin watches support this backup method. In some models (like Fenix or newer Forerunners, for example) the number of files to be backed up varies slightly, as they have more options than the lower end models, but the procedure is the same. These are some of the models where we can back up the data:
- Garmin Forerunner 110
- Garmin Forerunner 210
- Garmin Forerunner 220
- Garmin Forerunner 225
- Garmin Forerunner 230 / 235
- Garmin Forerunner 245
- Garmin Forerunner 620
- Garmin Forerunner 630
- Garmin Forerunner 645
- Garmin Forerunner 735XT
- Garmin Forerunner 935
- Garmin Forerunner 945
- Garmin Forerunner 920xt
- Garmin Fenix
- Garmin Fenix 3
- Garmin Fenix 5 / 5S / 5X
- Garmin Fenix 5 Plus / 5S Plus / 5X Plus
- Garmin Fenix 6 / 6 Pro / 6S Pro / 6X Pro
- Garmin Epix
- Garmin Edge 130
- Garmin Edge 510
- Garimn Edge 520
- Garmin Edge 530
- Garmin Edge 810
- Garmin Edge 820
- Garmin Edge 830
- Garmin Edge 1000
- Garmin Edge 1030
- Garmin Edge Explore
- Garmin Touring
- Garmin Touring Plus
As you can see there is a jump in the Garmin Fenix series, that is because in the case of the Fenix 2 it is not possible to make the backup. The internal file structure changes from the original Garmin Fenix, so it is not possible to save the configuration information before resetting the device.
How to backup your Garmin
To perform the backup you must connect the device to your computer, through the sync and charging cable.
Once connected, you need to open the drive that was created in “My Computer” (on Windows computers) or on the Desktop (on Mac). In the case of Mac, for newer devices you will have to install Android File Transfer.
When you open this drive you will find a number of folders and files.
Depending on the device you have connected, you will have to look in one or another folder, where the files to be copied are located. In older or lower end models, these are the folders where you will find the files to be saved:
- SETTINGS - inside you will find the file SETTINGS.FIT, which contains the user and device settings
- SPORTS - the file RUNNING.FIT is stored here, with the specific settings of the sport application
- TOTALS - inside you have the file TOTALS.FIT, with the total data of the time and distance device
In the event that you have a more advanced or current device, such as the recent Fenix or Edge cycling computers, these are the folders that contain the files to be saved.
- COURSES — inside you'll find the different routes that we have created or synced, each one of them in a FIT file. Be careful if you do not have a backup of them (because you uploaded it directly in file format and not created through a platform), if you do not save it you will lose it.
- LOCATION - contains the file LOCATIONS.FIT (or LCTNS.FIT), where the saved locations (coordinates) are stored.
- RECORDS - this folder contains the file RECORDS.FIT, storing all your personal records (of times and distances).
- SETTINGS - inside you have SETTINGS.FIT, with user and device settings.
- SPORTS - each FIT file is one of the applications created for each sport profile.
- MLTSPORT — each FIT file is a multisport sport profile. They are not stored no the SPORTS folder.
- TOTALS - inside you have the file TOTALS.FIT, with the total data of the time and distance recorded by the device.
Besides that we also have different map files (.gma and .img extension files). You could save them, but it's better to let Garmin Express download them directly with the most up-to-date version. It will take longer to copy from the watch to the computer and vice versa than to download them from the Internet (because what takes longer is to transfer to the watch memory, which is rather slow)
As you can see, there's no possibility to backup specific data of the FirstBeat algorithms, like recovery times, VO2Max estimates or race time estimates. Those data will have to be "recreated". How? By sweating in your workouts.
The same applies to apps downloaded from Connect IQ (watch faces, data screens, widgets, apps...). You'll need to download and configure them again. Music from Spotify or other platforms, Garmin Pay credit cards... the list goes on and on.
But you know what's worse in my case? I have to search ALL sensors again, naming each one of them. I know my case it's something special because I have quite a lot more sensors than most users, but it's still really uncomfortable.
Once you know which files you want to save, the procedure is very simple. Simply open each of the folders above (depending on your device) and copy them to your desktop or to a folder you have created for that purpose. To do this, simply open the folder in question and right-click on the FIT file you want to save, to select copy. Then right-click again on the folder where you want to save the file and select paste.
Follow the same procedure with the rest of the files you want to save.
Restore the Garmin backup
Restoring the backup is much easier, since it is not necessary to redistribute the files in each of their locations.
In the folder where you have saved the files, select all of them and right click on them, click on copy. Then, connect the device to your computer, and open the GARMIN folder. Right click on the NEWFILES folder and select paste, to copy all the files saved to the device.
All the files you have copied to the NEWFILES folder will automatically be moved into place when you disconnect the device from the computer and the computer. The settings you made will be back in place again.
In case the predefined activity files are ignored
It is possible that if you save the predefined activity files (i.e., the running activity with the name 0RCARRE.FIT that comes by default for running), when you copy it back to the watch, it simply ignores those activities and keep the predefined ones, with their factory settings. That is, despite copying the files, you will see that the configuration is not the one you made, and it is simply the one that comes with the watch by default.
If you want to force the watch to write those original activities, you must change the name of the original file to add a digit in front of it (for example, adding a 2 to the file, making it 20RCARRE.FIT). Copy those files to the watch memory again, and when the watch restarts you will see that the message "Updating" is briefly displayed on the screen. After completing the startup check the application in question, you will see that your personal settings are already there. The watch will also rename the file by removing the 2 we have put in and leave it with the correct naming structure.
I hope this will help you. As you see, you can't save absolutely everything and you'll have to redo certain settings, but at least it's possible to automate some of the work.
Thanks for reading!