Easiest way to backup FP4


I just wondered what the easiest way to backup the FP4 to my linux pc is as I dont want to use google backup for obvious reasons? My phone isnt rooted so I know that limits things and I have read that the adb backup is no longer supported and unreliable anyway.

I would prefer opensource as well if possible and I am a bit surprised that Fairphone dont have anything they have developed for this specifically as this would be a different selling point.

1 Like

Have you had a look at

Mentioned here in the forum frequently, although I think without root there is no easy all in one solution…

1 Like

On an unrooted FP4 running stock FPOS, there really aren’t that many options apart from Google’s built in cloud backup.

For purely data, I second @yvmuell’s suggestion, have been using Syncthing for years on anything with an OS and it’s a low maintenance solution.
But it won’t help you back up any apps, not by itself.

If you consider rooting, Neo Backup is FOSS and backs up almost everything.

Another option is to switch to one of the custom ROMs. /e/OS, CalyxOS and probably iodé OS and most of the others as well, ship with SeedVault as a drop-in, system level replacement for Google Cloud Backup.
Compared to Neo Backup, like Google’s backup system, SeedVault only backs up apps, that haven’t disabled backups (at least for now). But your phone doesn’t have to be rooted.


If you fancy some Linux sysadmin stuff you could setup your own Nextcloud environment. Then you have the benefits of Cloud, but self hosted. Downside is that unlike iOS, Android does not natively support WEBDAV, which is needed to sync stuff. But there are some 3rd party apps though, but it doesn’t make it native of course. By using Nextcloud you not only have file storage/sharing in your own Cloud but also calendar, webmail, contacts, RSS feeds, notes, passwords and much more.

SeedVault does support backups to Nextcloud, or basic WebDAV (via DAVx⁵).

So +1 for Nextcloud, you just need to switch to a custom ROM, and set up a Nextcloud server, easy … :nerd_face:


Many thanks everyone.

From what I have understood from reading your replies, and it is possible I have misunderstood some points,there is no easy solution for Joe Public.

Syncthing doesnt backup apps, Neo backup needs rooting and Nextcloud I think relates only to where I would be storing the data not how to get the data off of the phone in the first place.

Custom ROM’s always sound interesting as I appreciate the privacy of a de-googled experience but with that I guess that you also lose the benefits that a google phone such as millions of apps, although I try to use opensource apps where possible and only really use google maps within their suite of apps but a lot of my apps probably use other google tie ins I am unaware of so I imagine I would then have other problems.

Not sure where to go from here.

Did Seedvault improve? When I tested it, it did not back-up all apps and def. did not back up any app settings/data…

that would be Play Services

I deactivated all Google Apps except Maps and Play Services. I did not add a Google Account at installation and use the Aurora Store (instead the Google play Store) plus F-Droid.
In the Aurora Store you see the which apps are dependent on play sevices (GSF) and many custom ROM have microG integrated to fake Play Services. Still not all apps work with microG and if working today, might not tomorrow.

1 Like

Sadly there isn’t :see_no_evil:

I’ve just installed Google Maps through Aurora Store and so far everything seems to be working.
I still install some (FOSS) apps through Aurora Store (Google Play) instead of F-Droid, because some tend to get updated faster that way (e.g. Firefox).
Most apps work just fine with microG, buuut, there are definitely some that straight up won’t work, especially some banking apps. If you decide to try it out, maybe check if there have been reports for the installed apps you rely on, beforehand.

I’ve tested restoring from backups 20+ times yesterday, that part seems solid. The problem is, apps can opt out of being backed up, and some like Bitwarden, Firefox, K-9 Mail, Signal, Syncthing, etc. … do, for example for security reasons. Google Cloud Backup wouldn’t back them up either, but thankfully most of them offer their own backup functionality (for those that don’t, there’s Neo Backup).
There is ongoing work to make SeedVault appear like a Device2Device transfer app, which don’t have to obey those rules, but that seems to have stalled.


Thanks again everyone, I hadnt heard of Aurora store so I am interested to look at that regardless of what I might do regarding backups.


As mentioned before you can use aurora store on all custom ROMs to find apps on the play store. Some custom ROMs like e.g. /e/OS even come with a preinstalled app (e.g. app lounge) where you find all the apps, too.

Hint, although possibly no easy solution for Joe public, but neither too difficult:
if your bootloader is unlocked you may start your phone one time rooted only, do a thorough backup with one of the tools relying on root and reboot it then to normal operation. Same process for restore…


I understand, that the following is not exactly what you asked for. However I hope it will help you anyway.
Why should adb not be suitable for you, even if you cannot use adb backup?
If you are a linuxer, you could script your individual backup using adb.
(I do not exactly know, whether all paths are identical on LOS and stock Android. So, not all paths, that I use may be suitable for you.)

What about a linux bash script that does (I use this with LineageOS without any google services):

  1. Run “adb root” to allow you to execute “root debugging” (developer options) commands.
  2. Run “adb shell …” commands to
    create a backup directory on your (inserted) SD Card (/storage/)
    copy all data from /sdcard/Documents to your backup directory
    copy other data (Download, DCIM, …) depending on your individual needs
    save all your apps. For me works this:
    for line in $(adb shell pm list packages -3 -f) ; do AppName=$(echo $line|sed ‘s/^.==/base.apk=//');AppPath=$(echo $line|sed 's/base./base.apk/’|sed ‘s/package://’) ; adb shell cp $AppPath /storage/3737-3562/Backup/${AppName}.apk; done
    save all relevant databases in /data/data//databases
    create a tar.gz from all your collected data
  3. Run “adb pull” to fetch it to your PC
    This kind of backup will not allow you to execute a “one-click-restore” for your phone. However, it is nearly phone indipendant and everything is in your hand.
    Is there anything, you would miss from this procedure?
    Sorry, if I did not understand all aspects of what you intend.

I don’t think adb root is available on a stock FPOS installation (don’t have access to one at the moment), it isn’t even available on my rooted CalyxOS installation:
adbd cannot run as root in production builds

(I can of course use adb shell su -c 'foo' for that, but certainly not on an unrooted phone)

Instead of using the scripts mentioned by @derbaertigefrytz (which sound btw. nice and straight forward!) you can also try out this project:

Still I agree that on FPOS there’s probably no chance (and it’s all still no easy solution for Joe public). But e.g. /e/OS has also “root debugging” in developer options (like LineageOS).

Its a shame there isnt an easy way, without buying another phone to try the different OS’s out like /e/OS to see if I prefer it and everything works as I want as its too big of a gamble to just try it on my only

I am a linux desktop user rather than a full linux user so wouldnt feel that comfortable with this solution.

Yes, I agree. There should be a much easier backup option, especially on linux.
@kfair If the command line is not yours, you could give the windows freeware tool MyPhoneExplorer a try (MyPhoneExplorer | Funktionen). I wish we had a tool like this on linux.
The portable version runs well on linux desktops with “wine” installed. The caveat: you need a client app on your phone, which is not availabe on alternative app stores like fdroid. I run an old phone that never leaves home and does not run anything except the play store with an ancient google account. Its only purpose is to download 2-3 apps of this kind. If you do not want to use adb for extraction, you should use an apk extractor app. you then can transfer the apk on your google free phone and install it.

The apk can also be downloaded directly from the website:

Just in case you didn’t know this: You can temporarily root your phone by having fastboot boot from an image on your PC instead of the builtin boot partition. This requires you to unlock the bootloader, though.

I used the following method to restore my system state on several installs, and recently to migrate from my FP2 to FP4:
For backing up and restoring my contacts, messages etc. I use MyPhoneExplorer. As preparation for the migration, I temporarily root my phone by using Magisk to create a patched boot.img, copy it to my PC and then boot from it via fastboot instead of flashing it.
Then I use Titanium Backup to backup and restore all my apps and data. After reboot the phone is no longer rooted. Should you unlock the bootloader, there still seem to be risks involved when you try to re-lock your bootloader. Consensus seems to be that you shouldn’t (or has that changed and I missed it?)
It’s not exactly hassle free, but so far I found this to be the most complete solution. Except from configuring the device settings and color theme, everything is migrated.
I might give the scripts linked above a try instead. Looks like they could automate a bit more, hopefully - so thanks for that, @Volker


The big problem with (temporarily) rooting the phone: If the bootloader isn’t already unlocked, unlocking it performs a factory reset.
(Locking it does as well, so you can’t restore your data and then lock it again)

Not ideal if there’s already data on the phone …