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What Happens to Microsoft Authenticator When Changing Phones?

When you change phones and you’ve been using Microsoft Authenticator for two-factor authentication (2FA), you need to take certain steps to ensure a smooth transition. Here’s what generally happens and what you should do:

  1. Transfer of Authenticator App: The Microsoft Authenticator app does not automatically transfer your account data from one phone to another. When you switch phones, you will need to manually set up Microsoft Authenticator on your new device.
  2. Set Up Authenticator on New Phone:
    • Download and install the Microsoft Authenticator app on your new phone.
    • Sign in with your Microsoft account to link the app to your account.
    • For other accounts (like Google, Facebook, etc.), you will need to manually add each account to the Authenticator app on your new phone. This typically involves scanning a QR code or entering a setup key provided by the service you’re securing with 2FA.
  3. Backup and Recovery Feature:
    • If you had enabled the backup feature in the Microsoft Authenticator app on your old phone, you could restore your account credentials on your new phone. This feature saves your account credentials to your Microsoft account.
    • To restore, use the same Microsoft account to sign into the Authenticator app on your new phone and follow the prompts to restore the backup.
  4. Moving Other 2FA Accounts:
    • If you used Microsoft Authenticator for 2FA with non-Microsoft accounts, you might need to visit each account’s security settings (on the respective service’s website or app) and update your 2FA settings.
    • Some services may require you to disable 2FA temporarily or provide recovery codes to regain access and set up 2FA on the new device.
  5. Deactivate Authenticator on Old Phone:
    • For security reasons, once you have set up Authenticator on your new phone, you should remove your account(s) from the app on your old phone.
    • If you are disposing of or selling your old phone, ensure that you factory reset it to remove all personal data and apps, including Microsoft Authenticator.
  6. Impact on Access:
    • During the transition, there may be a brief period where you cannot use 2FA codes from Authenticator. Plan the switch at a time when you do not urgently need access to your 2FA-protected accounts.
    • Keep backup codes for your accounts (if provided by the services you use) in a safe place. These can be used to access your accounts if there are issues transferring the Authenticator.
  7. Potential Re-authentication:
    • After setting up the Authenticator on your new device, some services may require you to re-authenticate, which involves signing in again and verifying your identity.

The process of transferring Microsoft Authenticator to a new device involves critical steps that are essential for maintaining access to your secured accounts. It’s important to carefully follow the procedures for each service you have secured with 2FA to ensure uninterrupted access.

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