Get a new phone? Move Google Authenticator with ease

Adding an extra layer of security to your online accounts is no longer optional. There are far too many hacks and database leaks, each one containing login info for many of our online accounts for you to only rely on a password to keep your information secure.

Using two-step verification (2SV) decreases the chance that someone can gain access to your account by requiring your password and a randomly generated six-digit code. Sure, it takes extra work and time to log in to your accounts, but at the end of the day what's a few seconds when your personal information is involved?

Most services that offer two-step verification give you the option to receive a text message or use a dedicated app that provides the six-digit code you need to log in to your account, but we don't recommend using text messages to get your codes. Hackers have been able to trick carriers to switching phone numbers to different SIM cards, hijacking your codes in the process.

The safest bet? Use a dedicated app for viewing your access codes, such as Google's Authenticator app. Don't let the name fool you, the app works with more than your Google account.

When using the app to view your access codes, you may wonder what happens when it comes time to upgrade your phone or replace to lost phone with a new one.

Here's how to move Google Authenticator to a new device or disable it completely:

Step 1: Install the Authenticator app on your new iPhone or Android phone. 

Step 2: Visit Google's two-step verification site on your computer. Log in to your Google account to view your current 2SV settings.

Step 3: Click on Change Phone in the Authenticator app section. Select the type of phone you'll be using (Android or iPhone ($1,000 at Amazon)) and follow the prompts. (If want to disable Google Authenticator altogether, click on the trash can icon and confirm your decision. Google will then revert to delivering your 2SV codes via SMS.)

Step 4: Open the Authenticator app on your new phone and tap Begin Setup > Scan barcode. Scan the QR code displayed on Google's website with the Authenticator app, then entering a six-digit code to verify everything is working properly. Once that's done, the codes on your old device will no longer be valid.

Repeat this process for each service you currently use with Google Authenticator, be it Apple, Facebook, Dropbox, or Amazon. Don't delete the Authenticator app off your old phone until you've moved all accounts to your new phone, otherwise you'll be locked out of those accounts -- and nobody wants that.

Editors' note: This How To post was originally published on June 28, 2013, and has been updated to include new information.