Changing Android smartphones is very simple today. But if you use Google Authenticator, take the time to transfer the app…
When you buy a new smartphone android, like the Pixel 7, you want the latter up and running as soon as possible. Time spent on your old phone is time you could be spending on your new one. Completely understandable excitement, but take your time, really. There is one step you absolutely must follow before erasing data from your old device, one that will save you a lot of hassle.
This warning applies to those using Google Authenticator on the older Android device. This application is a good measure of protection for many accounts on the web with two-factor authentication. Thanks to such an app, a malicious person cannot invite himself to your Google, Instagram or Twitter account, even if he knows your username and password. The last key is on your smartphone.
But that’s the whole point: it’s on your old phone. Google Authenticator does not automatically track you when you change phones. If you erase your old phone without configuring the last one, these codes will disappear. Redditor Kracer20 had the painful experience of switching phones without transferring their Google Authenticator app. Which gave him the idea to write a public service announcement, so to speak, on r/GooglePixel knowing that many users could be fooled.
The Google instructions make the procedure very clear and very easy. First, make sure Google Authenticator is up to date on your old phone. Next, install Google Authenticator on your new phone and open the app. Choose “Start.” At the bottom of the screen, choose “Existing accounts important?”
Then, on your old smartphone, open Google Authenticator, go to More > Transfer Accounts > Export Accounts. Choose the accounts to transfer to your new device, then choose “Next.” This will create a QR Code. If you are transferring multiple accounts, you may have more than one code. On your new phone, tap on “Scan a QR Code” and scan.
Once you receive confirmation that your accounts have been transferred, it’s good! You’ll have no problem accessing your two-factor authentication-protected accounts on your new phone. Before erasing the old device, however, make sure your important data is backed up and synced, if not already, to your new phone.
Consider other authentication options
There are many other similar apps to avoid this problem. If you use the Bitwarden password manager, you just have to log into your account on your new phone to retrieve your codes from there. There’s a security risk, of course: Google Authenticator only exists on your current smartphone, while if someone has access to your Bitwarden account, they can retrieve your codes for two-factor authentication. But you don’t have to worry about transferring the app every time you switch devices. Just remember to set a very strong and completely unique password for your Bitwarden account.
Another good option: Aegis Authenticator, an open-source app that has backup functionality. So, if your phone gives up the ghost or if you erase it before transferring it to a new phone, you can still find your codes without worry. You could also consider authy a popular alternative available on all devices, to access its codes on more than a smartphone.