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Android Backup

posted Oct 31, 2010, 5:30 PM by Onno Benschop   [ updated Oct 31, 2010, 6:43 PM ]
Note, the information here does not require root access, but at this time it appears that to do anything useful, you do require root :-(

Creating a backup of my HTC Desire is a bit of an issue. There are many different tools that all intend to backup your device to more or lesser degree. Some even work. HTC has made an "automatic" backup, which you can enable in Menu -> Settings -> Privacy -> Back up my data & settings. I have no idea what is backed up and what isn't since the documentation is far from complete or definitive on the matter.

I came across this post which outlines using adb, the android debugger to backup what ever you want. The instructions seem to indicate that there is much to achieve this way. To actually make it work, there are a few steps needed: (Note that this is for Ubuntu and a HTC Desire, since that's what I use - see the note at the bottom of this page for other configurations.)
  1. Download the Linux Android SDK from here: http://developer.android.com/sdk/
  2. Extract the archive:
    tar -zxf
  3. Create a file called /etc/udev/rules.d/51-android.rules
    SUBSYSTEM=="usb", SYSFS{idVendor}=="0bb4", MODE="0666"
  4. Change the permissions of this file:
    chmod a+r /etc/udev/rules.d/51-android.rules
  5. On your Android enable USB debugging:
    Menu -> Settings -> Applications -> Development -> USB debugging
  6. Plug-in your Android via USB
  7. From within the tools directory inside the extracted SDK folder which you created in #2, run:
    adb devices
If it all worked as expected, you should see your device listed in the output.

You'll notice that this doesn't contain information about what to backup, I'm still working on that and this page will be updated once that's completed.

At this time, I don't yet have access to my application data. You can access some information without root permissions:
  • adb pull /system/build.prop
  • adb pull /system/fonts/DroidSans.ttf
  • adb pull /system/app

Note: You can install the SDK under Linux, OS X and Windows. You can also connect to other devices, other than a HTC Desire. The SDK page and Developing on a Device page will walk you through that. If you're using Windows, read the Backup with ADB document first, since it will save you a lot of grief.

Sources: Backup with ADB, Android SDK, Developing on a Device