Editor's Note: Because Android is moving at a rapid pace, so we've updated this guide with the latest information on more recent versions of Android. You can find the new version here.
There is a clear difference in how Android and the iPhone handle your personal data. With the iPhone, you connect the phone to a PC with a USB cable, and use iTunes to manage content. It might seem increasingly archaic these days to rely on a PC to use a smartphone, but there is a practical upshot to it. Apple has built in a simple, fast backup solution for the iPhone into iTunes. If you end up getting a new phone for whatever reason, you can just restore the backup to the new handset. On Android, the picture isn't as clear.
Android takes the cloud-based approach. At first, the platform wasn't really showing off its cloud-connected potential. It really felt unfinished in that way. But it is becoming increasingly clear where Google is going with Android, and how that relates to data backup and security. As it stands right now, you just can't do a complete backup of an Android phone without rooting the device and voiding the warranty.
Let's go over what you can backup, what you don't need to backup, and what you can look forward to in Android backup.