Noob-friendly (i.e. warranty-friendly) ways to backup phone


Howdy Fairphoners!

I’ve been casually browsing, to find ways to better back up my phone. My current method is basically a non-method. I simply copy and paste all files from my phone to a hard drive that I have. So no version control, zilcho. I’m also not sure what would happen if my phone were to crash. I suspect that I’d have to manually install all of my apps.

I started looking into ways to do so from the forum. In particular, TWRP seemed to be a promising option, per the wiki guide. I got discouraged, however, when I saw that
(a) it seems to require unlocking the bootloader [could be wrong here], and therefore will wipe the phone.
(b) It is against FP3 warranty (see section 4) to have it installed.

I don’t want to use the Google Backup because I do not want to use more space on my Google Drive, not to mention I want to reduce my dependence on them. So what are some options of doing this that don’t include (1) rooting the phone (2) more than, say, a few hours of learning?

Edit: I’ve since found this in the wiki.

I don’t fully understand the “TWRP without flashing it” link. Will I have to unlock my bootloader? Does this void the warranty?

Normal TWRP back up does not back up data only system and apps. There is an extra TWRP tool that would back up also all data, however that can be installed through Magisk only and this means the FP would be rooted. Probably to back up data like pictures Mega Cloud would be an option? With the basic free account you have 15GB as far as I remember. I back up contancts and calendar with my posteo account.

That’s correct.

Installing is not the recommended way to use TWRP on a so-called A/B device like the Fairphone 3 anyway (even if there is a way to do this in the official TWRP instructions for the Fairphone 3).
You would usually just boot it with fastboot when needed, so it only gets booted temporarily, it doesn’t get installed.

As for the warranty, if needed you can comply to it by restoring Fairphone OS including its recovery.

That’s for the Fairphone 2, so you don’t need to bother.
The fastboot boot method to do this on the Fairphone 3 is mentioned in the official TWRP instructions for the Fairphone 3.

While TWRP doesn’t backup Internal Storage, you can instead easily copy the whole Internal Storage to a computer via USB when TWRP is running, because TWRP supports MTP.


I want to reply because it wasn’t clear to me from the message. Even though we are not installing TWRP onto the phone, the bootloader still must be unlocked. Therefore one must wipe the phone completely to unlock the bootloader, and TWRP is not suitable for the first backup one makes of one’s phone.



In case the bootloader is locked and there’s now stuff to backup on the phone … Yes.

In case the user weighed backup options beforehand and chose to unlock the bootloader from the start, aware of the security implications this has, to be able to use TWRP … No.


Thank you for confirming my suspicions. Your posts helped me clear up some misconceptions and doubts I had in my research.

This thread is probably stale, but the question now becomes, what is the most relatively painless way to backup with a non-rooted, locked bootloader phone? I’ve also had a hardware issue (now addressed) on my FP3 and had to contact support before, so I’m not willing to go in this direction until my warranty expires. When the time comes, I’d like to have a more reasonable backup of my phone and its data to make the transition to more open software as painless as possible :slight_smile:

However, I’ve seen mixed reviews with basically every backup method I’ve seen has substantial drawbacks

  • DB seems that it does not save everything, and its restore function has been documented to malfunction
  • Helium Backup does not seem to have high reviews.
  • Built-in Google Backup requires extra space available on cloud storage.

The following list has many solutions, but my impression from going through many of them, is that they all are incomplete…

So, I suppose I’m reaching out. If you have an unrooted, locked bootloader phone, what has your solution to phone backup been?

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Like you I am cautious whilst under warranty and don’t want to have to undo this and that to get support, so until warranty runs out I’m staying with A10 as updated. Then maybe I’ll root.

I don’t use many apps so I’m not that concerned about any app specific data.
I regularly clear my phone logs and message so there little there to be of concern, any important messages I save as text on my SD card, equally I export my contacts via contacts.vcf to my SD card. My sim has the most important and basic contact info

My SD was transferred from my Samsung and contains all my personal, data, music, images, docs etc. including an encrypted area for passwords . . .

So if I have serious problems that need a factory reset I’ll just have to reinstall a few apps and that’s it.

(Disclaimer: I’m running an unlocked bootloader to have an easy backup path, compromising on security a bit in my situation in exchange, so I’m speaking in theory.)

The way I see it, the real problem with the unrooted phone, locked bootloader setup are OS settings, App settings and App data (depending on where it’s stored).

You can keep install files of the OS to manually install if needed, you can simply copy the whole so-called Internal Storage (which is the /data/media directory on the phone) with your user data to a computer, you can cover some more things like e.g. messages and contacts with tools like MyPhoneExplorer (utilising ADB for some things and a client App on the phone for other things).

The backup gap remaining is the data partition apart from the Internal Storage, meaning everything /data apart from /data/media. And OS settings.

There’s a way out there to get access to that part of /data (and other directories) with ADB called Rooted debugging.
This doesn’t need root, and the bootloader is not involved. It only needs a setting to let the user give ADB root permissions, allowing the adb root command. With this you could then copy parts of the phone storage otherwise unavailable to ADB.

The catch is that this setting for Rooted debugging has to be implemented in the OS.
I only learned about it because it’s available in /e/ in the Developer options.

If it’s not there in Fairphone OS you might want to petition Fairphone about implementing it, if possible (I don’t know about possible implications for SafetyNet or for the Google certification of the OS).
The noob-friendly part could then perhaps be done with a script or a GUI wrapper (I just love to say something like this, knowing I won’t do it myself :smiley: ).

I don’t know whether OS settings would still be problem or whether they could be covered with this, too.


This is achieved via Settings > About phone and tapping 7 times quickly in succession on the Build number. This enables Developer options which you will now find under Settings > System > Advanced. Under Developer options you will a load of choices, one being in the second table > USB debugging.

Once that’s enabled you can install ADB (Android Development Bridge) to access more files on the phone’s internal storage.

Although I have Developers options enabled for other reasons, I haven’t installed ADB yet.

UPDATE: Just installed ADB on my Raspberry Pi4

apt install android-tools-adb android-tools-adbd android-tools-fastboot android-tools-fsutils android-tools-mkbootimg

This only enables ADB. It doesn’t give ADB root privileges, which is needed to access other parts of the storage.
The additional setting to do this is called Rooted debugging.

Please try it, I think it’s not enough.


I agree that’s a drawback but I wouldn’t call it substantial. If you use a service (like using extra cloud storage space to upload your backup) it’s imho fair to pay a little bit to use this service (I wouldn’t store my data at Google but that’s a different reason and off-topic here).


Well, the other hidden issue here is that there is no option for a local backup using this method and the mandatory use of cloud storage, which to me was the drawback.

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Hi @punyidea et al,

I had the same issue as you last year albeit not with a Fairphone, so there may be some differences but i think not. What does adb Backup exactly save - #6 by madbilly.

Short answer is that there’s no quick and easy way.

But if you find one then please share! :smiley:

Cheers :slightly_smiling_face:


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