How to Backup Phone Data without Root and Unlocking Bootloader

This article covers all the necessary steps to run a full backup of all the data in an Android phone without having to root or to unlock its bootloader. It is a common misunderstanding that performing a full backup can only be done if the phone is rooted. In some scenarios, it might be true. Rooting your phone means you can do almost anything with it, including the task we are talking about in this article.

There is a wide range of apps available in Play Store made specifically for the job. Some of them are free while others are paid apps offering more features than what the free ones can offer. Nevertheless, most of those paid options still require a rooted device in order to enable the advanced features.

Check also: Qualcomm QDLoader USB Driver.

Now the big question is, can we have a full backup of our data from an Android device without having to install any apps, without rooting, and without unlocking the bootloader? Luckily, the answer to that simple question is also simple. Yes, you can!

This guide will walk you through a series of steps to retrieve all your data as a backup from your phone with a help of your computer and a USB data cable. We will use a simple ADB tool for the task. Thankfully, this tool is available for free and it is an official tool by Google.


  1. You will need the Android device (either a smartphone or a tablet) that you are going to retrieve the data from.
  2. A working USB data cable is also necessary. It is recommended to use the one comes with your device. Otherwise, you may also utilize a third-party USB cable but make sure it is a USB data cable (and not a charging-only cable).
  3. A computer running Microsoft Windows is also necessary. This method needs a computer to create and to copy the backup file from your device.
  4. Next, download the Android ADB Platform Tools for Windows here. Make sure you grab the latest version available.
  5. A cup of coffee or tea may also come in handy to accompany you during the process.

Creating Backup

Step 1 – Extract (unzip) the zip file you have downloaded into the root path of your computer drive C. Hence, you will have a folder named “platform-tools” in your drive C. It will look like something like this one:


Step 2 – Open that folder in Windows Explorer.

Step 3 – Now grab your phone and the USB cable you have prepared. Connect your phone to your computer using the USB cable. Make sure your phone is turned on and is in the normal state (not turned off nor in fastboot mode).

Step 4 – Back to Windows Explorer. Type “cmd” in the address bar and hit Enter on your keyboard. This will launch the Command Prompt Window right from that location.

This window will appear afterward:

Step 5 – Type this command below and hit Enter. This issued command will ask to establish ADB connection between your computer and your device as well as to check any connected devices.

adb devices

Step 6 – At this point, your computer has successfully established an ADB connection with your device. It is now safe to proceed with the backup process. The command needed for the task is below:

adb backup -all -f C:\adb\data.ab

Type the command above and hit Enter to start creating a full data backup. Please note the location in which the backup file will be copied to. In the case of command above, the file will be stored in drive “C” inside the “adb” folder. You can change its location to drive D for instance. The command will look like this:

adb backup -all -f D:\adb\data.ab

Another alternative command you can use is below (the -noapk flag is added to exclude apk files).

adb backup -noapk -all -f D:\adb\data.ab

Step 7 – As what seen on screen, it is necessary to unlock your phone and confirm the backup operation.

You can also encrypt your backup file so that other people cannot decrypt and access what inside the backup file. This adds another layer of security which may or may not come in handy for some users. It is just up to you. Leave it blank if you want to proceed immediately. Tap the “Backup My Data” button.

Step 8 – The backup process will then take place. It may finish in a few minutes or may take longer which depends on the size of your data files as well as its numbers. The more data you have and the bigger its files, the more time necessary for the process to finish.

That is it. Congratulation, you have backed up all your data from your very own Android device. At this point, you can secure your backup file in the cloud by uploading it to services such as Google Drive or pCloud.

Restoring Backup

Let’s say you have created the backup file and now you want to restore the file and to have all your previous data back on your phone. How can you do this? It is simple.

First, follow Step 1 until Step 5 above.

Second, issue the following command:

adb restore C:\adb\data.ab

Assuming the file is stored in Drive C of your computer. The example below will restore the file from drive D of the computer:

adb restore D:\adb\data.ab

Learn More

The above-given commands are the practical examples that you can easily and effortlessly execute. However, it is also useful to learn the all available options so that you can customize the task according to your need. Let’s start with the default command which is:

adb backup -all -f C:\adb

The “adb backup” command has several keys or flags.

The Keys:

adb backup [-f <file>] [-apk|-noapk] [-shared|-noshared] [-all] [-system|nosystem] [-obb|-noobb]

In which:

-f <file> defines to which location you will save the backup file.

-apk|-noapk defines whether you will include apk files or not.

-shared|-noshared defines whether to enable or disable backup of the device’s shared storage / SD card contents; the default option if you don’t use this key is set to “noshared”.

-all option defines to backup all data.

-system|-nosystem defines whether the -all flag to include system applications or not. Some users prefer to use -nosystem flag which makes it easier to restore the data to another phone. However, your preference may vary. The default option when no flag is given is set to “-system”.

-obb|-noobb flag defines whether to also include game cache files or not. Some game apps usually download separate game files once installed. Some users prefer to use this option to avoid redownloading such cache files in the future.

Some Examples:

This command creates a backup of all data to C:\adb.

adb backup -all -f C:\adb\adb.ab

A command to backup all data including apk files to drive C outside any folder.

adb backup -apk -all -f C:\adb.ab

A command to back up all apk files and their data as well as to enable backup from sd card data (if some apk and their data are stored in external SD card).

adb backup -apk -all -shared -f C:\adb\adb.ab

A command to back up all files including apk and sd card data into drive C inside adb folder. This backup excludes system apps.

adb backup -apk -shared -nosystem -f C:\adb\adb.ab

A command to back up all files including APK, including those stored in SD card, excluding system apps, but including game/app cache files.

adb backup -apk -shared -nosystem -obb -f C:\adb\adb.ab

And so on.

You can be creative in combining all available keys/flags above or simply use the practical examples provided above.

The most important thing is to create a backup. Always! Especially before doing any customization or tweak on your phone. Be safe and responsible. Happy backing up!

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