Backup and restore a stock Android device


Taking regular backups of important devices is sensible advice. And backups themselves are no good unless you can restore them. This guide gives a brief overview on how to backup and restore a stock Android device – that is, a device that runs an uncustomised version of Android, that is unrooted. It may also work for non-stock Android devices.

One big caveat: While this is the best method I have found without root, I have not had consistent results across devices when restoring backups, even among Nexus devices. So I recommend that this method is not relied upon exclusively for backup.

Usage information

We will be using adb backup and adb restore to backup and restore device state.

To find out usage information for your device, connect it and run:

adb shell bu help

This info was found by simply running adb.

This guide assumes the backup and restore commands work like stock Android devices.


  1. Set up your computer and device so that your computer can access the device via USB. There are plenty of good guides out there, but in summary this’ll involve enabling USB debugging on the device and installing the Android SDK Platform Tools.

  2. Run the following command, authorising your computer to access the device if you have not already:

    adb backup -apk -obb -shared -all -system
  3. Follow the instructions. In my case, I needed to unlock the device and confirm the backup operation (optionally entering a password to encrypt the backup).

This will store a file in the current working directory.


  1. Ensure the device to restore to is connected.

  2. Run:

    adb restore <path_to_backup>