Guides and tricks

How to backup Garmin settings


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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.

Backup Garmin

Once connected, you must open the memory unit that has been created in "My Computer" (on Windows computers) or on the Desktop (on Mac). In the case of Mac, for more current devices it will be necessary for you to install Android File Transfer.

When you open this drive you will find a number of folders and files.

Backup Garmin


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.

Backup Garmin

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 is no possibility to backup data specific to FirstBeat algorithms, such as recovery times, estimated VO2Max or estimated running times. You will have to "re-create" these data. How? by sweating through 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.

On some devices, the NEWFILES folder is hidden, so you must first configure your file browser to show hidden files.

Follow these instructions to do so:

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 clock to write those original activities, you must rename the original file to add a digit in front of it (for example, by adding a 2 to the file, leaving it as 20RCARRE.FIT). Copy these files to the clock memory again, and when the clock restarts you will see the message "Updating" 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 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.

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Simply incredible the article, as always... I have published it in a group of Phoenix 3 that I am... But now I throw a question... How would it be in the Phoenix 5??? Same? Thanks!!!

    1. Yes, the same. The only thing to keep in mind is that there are many metrics that do not store data as standard in files (such as training status, VO2Max, etc).

  2. Thank you, Eduardo, for this article.
    In case what I want to do is a complete deletion of all this data, which I should do. Thank you.

    1. If you want to delete everything, simply do a reset from the clock menu itself and you'll leave it at zero.

  3. Well, I have done it on my Fenix 3, but it is not all that nice... what I would have liked is that it would be like a copy in iCloud, identical to the current state, the saved Apps do not appear, the History has disappeared, the activities have been loaded all over again... let's say that this and what I had, little resemble, perhaps by copying the rest of folders? if so, it would not have been out of place to comment it as a warning?

    1. By connecting it with Garmin Connect on your computer, you should be able to download the different languages that you do not have in your device memory.

  4. Good morning, I have a Garmin Edge 1000, I bought it in the United States but I live in Mexico, the detail is that it brings maps of the United States and tells me that there is already the update for those maps, there would be a way to change them for the ones of Mexico? Greetings and thanks for such an incredible blog.

  5. Hi, I have a new 520 and I don't know what happened but when I made the backup I deleted everything. Is there any way to recover the software? I have tried to restore it from factory but it is empty.

  6. Hi, I have a Fenix 2, I have the following problem when I do interval activities or training sessions, that is when I start training and finished for example the warm up stage, and when I make the change, I should continue running, and what it does is that it starts again in warm up, until the second one it changes me to running, then I start running and when I finish this stage and I should change to recovery, it starts running again, it has a behavior like that it duplicates the stages in each training session and intervals, which could be the watch, I have already reset the watch by pressing the light button for 25 seconds, and in the same way the problem remains. What do you recommend me to do

    1. I would try resetting the clock to factory settings, either through Garmin Express or through the clock menu. What you're doing simply resets the clock, but you're not resetting it to factory settings.

  7. Eduardo, you can tell me what options I can reset the clock to factory settings, by the two options you tell me, Garmin Express or by the clock menu

  8. Eduardo, thanks for the answers, I told you that I restored the factory settings of the watch and I did the tests again, with the intervals or training sessions, and the problem persists, since it duplicates activities within the training. There will be another alternative, for example to identify the file that is damaged and is causing this problem, or if there is an option to reinstall all the files of the watch again, to delete that file; or it is a problem that could not be solved. I await your answer, in advance thank you very much

    1. Well, I can tell you little more... try to erase all the workouts you have recorded in your memory, but I can't tell you where the failure comes from.

  9. friend please i need help with my garmin 235 q it does not have satellite software version it comes out o.o and for more q restart or connect and update it does not search satellite and the other data is wrong it stayed in two months before i can do. i have done everything possible but nothing. it does not update it does not give the pulse data correctly nor much less vo2 please thank you if you can help me.

  10. Good afternoon, I need help with a garmin 1000 edge, I have mistakenly deleted all the data on the hard drive from the computer and I don't know where to copy it from now.

    1000 thanks

    1. If you connect with Garmin Express you can do a reinstallation of all the software

  11. Very bad on the part of Garmin,
    You should invest money and resources into some kind of functional 100% restoration, like iCloud and co.
    In the middle of 2020 it seems to me a delay, unfortunately, the method you indicate is only a patch, losing sensors, keys, widgets, etc ... is the worst of the worst.
    You who have more contact with their headquarters in Spain, it would be nice to drop the subject, surely they know something about it, for better or for worse....

    1. For that to change Garmin would need a whole new operating system, the current one doesn't support it because of the way the files are laid out. So don't expect it anytime soon....

  12. Great!
    Great work and contribution. On occasion I have been lazy to restore because I don't have to reconfigure everything to my new taste.

    Thank you very much.

  13. Hello Eduardo. First of all congratulations for your blog, it is a whole library for those of us who like these topics. I can't imagine the amount of hours behind it.
    I was thinking of switching from a Forerunner 935 to a Forerunner 945 and I was wondering if the current performance data (vo2, training load, etc) is there any way to import them when making the switch or do I have to start from 0 with the new one. I understand that for the activities, they are saved in Garmin Connect, or would I have to import the backup created from the 935?

    Thank you!

  14. Good Eduardo, since July 10 updated the firmware of my forerunner 935 to version 20.0 has been locked in a fixed value the altimeter and thermometer. The altimeter can only be calibrated manually to a new value based on GPS position or manually, but once the value is set it will not update again. I have talked to the SAT and tried a total reset and cleaning in warm water with neutral soap...nothing at all. The problem is the firmware, but I do not recognize it, they say it is impossible to return to the previous firmware to check it and send it for repair (it is already out of warranty). do you know if anyone else has this problem? Best regards

      1. Thanks Eduardo for your answer. Finally I have checked with another 935 that with the same firmware conditions (20.0) the altimeter and thermometer works fine, so it seems that it is a sensor problem (although coincidentally it broke the same day of the firmware update...). I don't want to risk installing a new firm because I don't know if 1TP10 would be able to go back to the original updates in case of new ones...Regards.

  15. Hi Eduardo, I wanted to ask you a question that I have been wondering about for a long time. It is about what would happen if when you connect the Garmin via USB and open it as an external storage item, you delete some folder or even get to delete all folders. My question is if when you delete these files, does the watch become unusable, or, is there any way to restore or reinstall all the folders or files so that the watch is at factory level?

    A salute.

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