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Re: what sort of disaster can the android 4.x backup protect you from?
All backups are done for the same reason.
Phones and computers are cheap. (You can even buy 100%, within 24 hours, to your door, replacement warranties.)
Data is not only irreplaceable, it can be worth a company the size of GM or Mobil Oil. (Imagine losing ALL your Accounts Receivable. You may have enough cash left to declare bankruptcy, but you may not.)
You back up data that you don't want to lose and can't replace. I don't back up something I can download from the Play store in 30 seconds. I back up the data that app produced.
An old saying in the computer field - any data you don't have backed up - at least twice to two different devices (and preferably at two different locations) is data you didn't need. Anecdotal data. Two days after the earthquake hit SF in 1989, I wanted to file a medical insurance claim. The building that the insurance office had been located in was a heap of trash. It was an 800 number, so I tried it anyway, Nice young lady answered, took my claim, told me it would be processed within 48 hours. I didn't know whether to laugh in her face or pick my jaw up off the floor, so I asked a few nice polite questions.
No one had been in the office at the time. The next day they had a new computer network installed in a building they were able to rent (probably at n exorbitant price), reloaded with all their data. The tech people worked through the night, so the total "office" time lost was less than an hour. They were back in business almost as the last brick fell off the last destroyed building. The data? Delivered to the new building by the company that kept it for them in a bomb-proof location. (Some of you guys know them - "ferric high pile of dirt"?)
What can you restore the data to? Your phone that you had to wipe because of data corruption. (A factory reset doesn't put back your apps and data, it restores the phone to the way it was when it left the factory.) Your phone was lost? Here's a new one. Restore your data to it. It's time to get rid of this old phone and get a new fancier one? Restore the old data to the new phone.
You totally bricked the phone, and now it's a $500 door stop? WAIT! Joe, down the block, knows how to get the phone working again - but you'll lose all your data. No problem - it's backed up on your laptop.
The only disaster you're defending yourself against is losing your data. Which can be so trivial that you don't care. (I don't care what my solitaire scores are.) Or it can be the phone number of that guy who offered you $25,000 more for your house than it's worth. Or it can be the data you need to prove to the IRS that your last income tax return is NOT fraudulent.
What data you're backing up, and what that protects you from, varies from case to case, but what you're protecting yourself from is loss of data. My phone backs up to my laptop every night. The folder it's backing up to is in the cloud. If my laptop, my phone and Microsoft all blow up at the same time, I have a little more to worry about than my data.