TIL: You Can't Move Google Authenticator to New Phone

I recently got a new phone and had to go through the setup process. I ran into trouble trying to find out how to move my Google Authenticator codes over from my old device. Turns out you can’t.

Like I had mentioned last week, I was looking into getting the new OnePlus 6t after it was announced that it would be getting support on the Verizon network. Well, I bought it and it came in last week. Which meant that I needed to go through the lovely process of migrating everything to the new phone.

For the most part, everything was seamless. Good on google for making the general transfer process from one phone to another completely painless. It seems now that google is using bluetooth rather than NFC to do the transfer process which makes it all go much much faster. All of my google accounts, their login info, contacts, system settings (like wifi passwords) were all transferred without me doing anything. Yay.

But of course apps aren’t that simple. You do need to get them all set back up and signed into with your account info. But that’s to be expected.

The one app that wasn’t obvious to me was Google Authenticator. This is what I’ve been using for 2 factor authentication for various sites/apps for a while now, and I needed to get it moved over. When I booted up the app on the new phone I found that none of the accounts were populated and I didn’t see any option for transferring them over.

After a bit of digging around the internet, there doesn’t appear to be any way of actually moving those accounts from one phone to another. Those accounts have to be recreated on the new phone, which means going to all of the sites, unlinking the 2FA, and re-creating the account on the new phone. Thinking back on it I guess that makes sense, as it would prevent someone from hacking into your account and transferring all of the data off to their phone instead, but I wish it had been a little more obvious.

So the next time that you need to migrate your Authenticator accounts over to a new phone, remember you’ll need to go through this process BEFORE you get rid of your old phone (will need the old 2FA to log in to change it).

💚 A.B.L.