How to backup your entire Android device

Backing up your Android device is probably something that you have never thought of or never do that often. Given the amount of data that mobile devices store these days, it’s becoming even more important now to make sure your device data is backed up to your PC/Mac and/or SD card and recoverable in the event of damage, loss or theft.

Most Android users (other than the techies among us) don’t realize that when you backup your Android device it only backs up media i.e. photos, music (non-system files in the main) etc and not the system files (you have to have “admin” rights for this to work) and app data (by this I mean the entire device) etc. So what can you do? Well it’s easy. A developer called Gigadroid developed earlier this year a PC/Mac tool called Ultimate Backup which can be used to backup everything to a PC or Mac without you requiring “admin” access (the techies call this “rooting”).

How to install ADB and Ultimate Backup Tool to backup your device to a PC or Mac

If you want to backup your Android device to your PC or Mac you will need to install the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) on your PC or Mac, which is part of the Android SDK (Software Development Kit). Once ADB in downloaded and installed you can then download Ultimate Backup Tool to your PC or Mac. Here are the links you need:


On your device (I’m using the Samsung S3) on a Windows 7 PC:

  • Settings > Developer Options > USB Debugging – enable this
  • Download to your PC
  • Create folder “Ultimate Backup Tool” on Desktop
  • Unzip the package and save to the above folder
  • Connect your Android device via the USB cable
  • Locate the file “UBT.bat” and run as administrator
  • You should now see your device name connected/model and Android version number
  • Follow the onscreen instructions – I chose 2. Backup all without system apps – when the backup is finished close the UBT.bat file
  • Note: SMS messages are not backed
  • Remember: Once you have backed up your device – disable USB Debugging

Known problems include: (just be aware)

  • Backup apps doesn’t seem to work for Desire HD. It finishes but the backup file is only 1KB.
  • Problems with the HTC One series
  • Problems with Sony devices from 2011

How to install the Ultimate Backup app on your Android device to backup to an SD card

  • Visit Google Play and install Ultimate Backup
  • On your device (I’m using the Samsung S3): do the following:
  • Settings > Developer Options > USB Debugging – enable this
  • Remember: Once you have backed up your device – disable USB Debugging

Safe surfing folks!

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9 Responses to How to backup your entire Android device

  1. Felipe Wainer says:

    Hi Julian: I would truly appreciate your help. I have a Samsung Galaxy S3, model GT-I9300 phone, running with Android 4.0.4. I carried on all the steps you indicate in your post. Ultimate Backup detects my phone and appears to make the backup. I started choosing option number 2 and it took only fractions of a second when the message “backup complete” appeared on the screen. But I only got an empty backup.ab file. I run the other backup options but the result was the same. I did not test with the Tools options because, at the moment, I don’t want to root my phone. Best Regards.

    • Julian says:

      #Felipe Walner# Tools doesn’t root your phone – it is a Windows/Mac application. So download and install it your computer and follow the instructions. All should be fine. 🙂

  2. Felipe Wainer says:

    Hi Julian: Thanks for your reply. I am aware that Ultimate Backup is a Windows/Mac tool. I followed your advise and read carefully the instructions. After that, I run the tool and got from my Galaxy S3 a rather huge backup file (5.6 Gb)that took around 15 minutes to complete. The problem was that formerly I had not set the a desktop backup password under Developer options in the phone. One final comment: In the Tools section of Ultimate Backup for PC, you can read:
    9. Install Drivers
    10. Unlock Bootloader (Uses “fastboot oem unlock” command)
    11. Install CWM/ CWM Touch (Galaxy Nexus, S2 and S3)
    12. Root your phone (ARM) (requires custom recovery)
    13. All in one (Galaxy Nexus, S2 and S3)
    This options do not work for rooting?

    Thanks again and Best Regards

  3. Diego says:


    what are the commands for doing the same on a mac?

    what should be done?

    thank you!!

  4. KT says:

    I am brand new to Android and backups. I was wondering why option #3 is noted as unsafe. Can you elaborate on this – in plain English? 🙂

    LG P930

    • KT says:

      Actually, I also meant to ask what USB connector mode do we need? When I connect as Mass Storage, it doesn’t recognize my device, and has “No Device Connected” on all fields.

      When I connect as PC Software, it sees my device, but gives the error “No Device Connected” under List of devices… and List of fastboot… Manufacture, Model and Android version are all populated. Backup fails in all connection modes.

      I do have a backup password set.
      LG P930 – non-rooted

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