Simplifying data backup on Android devices

Backup Assistant

© Photo by Jandira Sonnendeck on Unsplash

© Photo by Jandira Sonnendeck on Unsplash

Article from Issue 264/2022
Author(s):

Linux Android Backup offers an open source solution to backing up the most important content from your Android devices in just a few steps.

Backing up data from a Linux installation doesn't pose a problem for most users thanks to open source solutions for almost every scenario, from a single machine to a cluster, as well as command line and GUI options. However, backing up Android devices such as smartphones or tablets can be a little trickier. Up until Android 4, backing up such devices was only possible if the bootloader was unlocked, and unlocking was no easy task because most manufacturers tried to prevent it. And if you did unlock the bootloader, you could void your warranty, and, even worse, risk bricking your device. An advance backup would have made sense, but it was only possible after rooting.

Starting with Android 4, adb backup [1] (which Google has since deprecated for security reasons) worked reliably without rooting, even between devices by different manufacturers, which differed from many other manufacturer tools or third-party apps. Today, the only official tool left for backups is Android Debug Bridge (ADB), which lets you control Android devices using a computer with Linux, macOS, or Windows. However, using ADB requires many manual steps and still comes with the risk of bricking the device.

Linux Android Backup (LAB), a fledgling project developed on GitHub, offers an alternative to ADB [2]. Under the hood, LAB, which consists of a small shell script and a Flutter app, greatly simplifies backing up Android devices. LAB works entirely without vendor lock-in or closed source software that could compromise your data. While the script is based on ADB, it does not use the deprecated adb backup command. Despite its name, LAB also works on macOS and Windows, in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) [3]. In fact, the developers are currently looking for a more suitable name.

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