How to Backup Google Authenticator (2FA)?

Alp Işık
6 min readFeb 23, 2020

With the advancement of technology every day and the spread of the internet, we have now acquired some new habits in our daily life. While the combination of mail and password is sufficient for most people to access a website, “Two-Step Verification (2FA)” has entered our lives, especially with mobile banking.

What is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?

To explain very simply two-factor authentication, it is an extra layer of security that you can use to protect your account. Receiving an SMS on your phone while sign-in your bank account is an example of two-factor authentication. Usually, it is not a preferred method to use the one-time password that comes with SMS. One-time passwords that you can generate on your phone even without internet is much safer to use. The most common application used for this process is the Google Authenticator application.

Google Authenticator

How To Use The Google Authenticator Application?

I can say that the installation and backup of the Google Authenticator application is basically the same process. First of all, you need to download Google Authenticator from Play Store or App Store.

Play Store: Download

App Store: Download

After installing the app, I will tell you how you can use and backup on Binance, the largest Bitcoin and Altcoin exchange. You can use the method on all other exchanges and websites, the logic is the same and you will see it quite simple.

1-) Binance wants us to install the application (we already have)

2-) After opening the application that we have installed on our phone, we should click add new account or press the “+” button and then ask us to scan the QR code or enter it manually if the camera of our phone is not working. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP!

In this step, we take a screenshot of the QR code and the code written next to it. We NEVER back up this screenshot in an online environment. After taking the screenshot, you can copy it onto a USB stick and store it in a safe place. Do not forget to delete it from your computer after copying it into USB memory.

The main reason we do this is, if you lose your phone, buy a new phone, or if your phone fails while updating, you can add your account to Google Authenticator again using the QR code in the screenshot you have saved.

The most frequently asked question is “I accidentally deleted the Google Authenticator application, how can I access my accounts?” . As you can see, the solution is quite simple, you can re-add your account via the QR code that you took the screenshot and backed up.

I didn’t take a screenshot of the QR code in Google Authenticator when setting up my accounts, what can I do?

If you want to prevent your phone against theft, corruption or deletion of the Google Authenticator application, let’s consider a scenario where you want to regain access to your accounts without panic. In this case, while your phone is working, we go to the sites you use Google Authenticator one by one, firstly, we turn off two-step authentication and when we set up again, this time we back up the QR code given to us by the site as we mentioned above. In order to login the sites one by one and turn off two-step authentication, of course, it will ask for the codes you produce on your phone. In this scenario, our phone is already working and we can generate our codes.

The steps you need to take to do this on the Binance exchange are as follows.

1-) We write our e-mail address and password to log in to our account.

2-) We write the password that we created from the Google Authenticator application on our phone.

3-) We disable Google Authenticator from the account settings section.

4-) In order to do this, it will ask you for the password of your account and the password generated by the Google Authenticator you currently use on your phone, we enter them.

5-) As soon as we click the Submit button, our account is no longer protected by two-step verification (Google Authenticator). It shows you a warning like this and alerts you to reactivate two-step authentication. I would like to remind you that you cannot perform withdraw (withdrawal) for 24 hours when you do this operation, this restriction is automatically removed after 24 hours.

6-) Our account in Binance is no longer protected by two-step verification, the codes you produce for Binance on your phone will not work. You can delete Binance from the Google Authenticator app on your phone.

7-) Now we are going to set up Google Authenticator again.

8-) This time, while taking the installation, we take the screenshot with QR code on the screen and the code next to it as described above and save it in a safe place.

9-) Result: Your phone is broken or stolen, no problem. You can access your Binance account if you install Google Authenticator on a new phone and scan the QR code in the screenshot you have taken.

I lost my phone, I accidentally deleted Google Authenticator, there is no backup of the screenshot with the QR code in my hand, what can I do?

What I said above was about how we can take action before this kind of event happens to us. I have tried to explain how we can back up Google Authenticator with our phone and how to backup the QR code given by the website to you while setting up Google Authenticator. The worst case scenario would be to lose or break your phone if you did not make any preparation. In such a case, since you do not have a screenshot with a QR code, and you do not have access to your phone, you will have to contact the Binance support team or whichever site you are using. In such cases, if you have provided your ID while registering on the exchange, they will ask for this information again. Apart from this, some special questions can be asked such as the addresses you deposit and withdraw cryptocurrency regularly. Since the policy of each site is different, you will need to solve the problem with the support team.

Conclusion: To be prepared for a bad scenario, while your phone is working, I recommend you to take backups with the methods I explained above.

While activating two-step authentication on a new website, I recommend you take the screenshot with the QR code and keep it in a safe place. You have to make it a habit.

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⚠️The information, comments and recommendations contained here and in my social media accounts are not within the scope of investment consultancy.