The Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) makes it possible to run Android applications on Windows 11 computers. But the software is still very much a work in progress and it’s currently only available to members of the Windows Insider Preview program.

Microsoft bundles the Amazon Appstore with WSA, making it easy to find and install some Android apps – but the selection of available apps is pretty small so far. Fortunately there a multiple ways to sideload Android apps. Now the developer behind one of those methods is introducing a significant upgrade that will bring a new feature: backups.

WSATools is a free utility that makes it easy to sideload Android applications on a Windows 11 computer with the Windows Subsystem for Android installed. Available from the Microsoft Store, WSA doesn’t require you to manually install Android developer tools or futz around with a command prompt. Just download an Android APK file from a trusted source like F-Droid, APKMirror or APKPure, double-click it and WSATools will walk you through the install process.

While that dramatically increases the number of apps that you can run on a Windows 11 PC, there are some down sides to sideloading rather than using an app store. You won’t get automatic updates so you’ll have to keep an eye out for updates and install the manually. And your data won’t be backed up or restored via the store.

So WSATools developer Simone Franco built WSATools Backups. It’ll make its debut with WSATools 0.2.0 and allow you to create a local backup of Android apps and associated data. That way if you need to reinstall the Windows Subsystem for Android and want to restore all your apps at once, you can do it easily. Or if you just accidentally removed an app or wiped data, you can restore those items without manually downloading the APK files first.

It could also come in handy if you’re just thinking toward the future – it’s unclear if apps that are sideloaded on the Insider Preview builds of Windows 11 will continue to work when Microsoft eventually rolls out Windows Subsystem for Android to folks running stable builds of Windows 11. So if you want to make sure you don’t, for example, lose your progress in a game that you’re playing, you may want to make regular backups that you’ll hopefully be able to restore from if you have to reinstall WSA in the future.

WSATools isn’t the only game in town. You can also sideload Android apps on Windows 11 computers using other apps like WSA-pacman and APK-Installer. If you prefer to do things via the command line, you can also do things manually using Google’s Android Platform Tools. And if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can try installing the Google Play Store, which is a bit trickier, but which makes Android on Windows feel a bit more like the version of Android that ships with most phones and tablets.

But WSATools is certainly turning out to be one of the more versatile and user-friendly options for sideloading Android apps in Windows PCs.

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