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The makers of most ROMs suggest that you do a full device wipe when moving from one ROM to another. I have also found this is usually good practice, so data from the previous ROM does not affect the new one. On my EVO 4G, this was not a problem, since wipes did not affect the SD card. However, my new Galaxy Nexus (Sprint) has no SD card, and is managed all on internal memory. Every time I do a full wipe (in TWRP and Clockworkmod recoveries) they erase everything on my device, including my SD contents (photos, documents, the new ROM I'm trying to install, etc.).

This is quite problematic and annoying, as it requires much more time to manually backup my backups before flashing anything.

Has anyone found a way to avoid this? By that, I mean is there a way to keep portions of data (preferably the faux "SD" portions) between flashing new ROMs?

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I wonder if partitioning the internal space would work, although that might be dangerous. You could always wipe /data manually -- the phone might not boot afterward but you only need to get into recovery anyways. –  Matthew Read Dec 4 '12 at 16:11
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5 Answers

I am in a very similar situation where I want to install a new ROM but I don't want to have to re-install everything. Fortunately, we are not alone. Seems Wartickler from from xda-developers have done the hard work for us.

He has posted the very detailed solution at http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1994705

It actually recovers your partition as a RAW file, coverts it to VHD and then recovers the data from it (using magic I presume) It is not a 5 minute exercise and not recommended for beginners, but seems to solve the problem.

PS. I have not tried it myself, so results may vary.

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this is an interesting process, and i'm glad to see it can be done! However, I am looking for some way to flash new roms without ever losing that data, if it is possible. Backup and restore or recovery options come second to that. –  jlehenbauer Dec 6 '12 at 22:19
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I tried Galaxy Nexus Toolkit to take backup when I updated my Galaxy Nexus to Android 4.2.1. It worked very well and I was able to restore my apps with data.

But for the games like need for speed, I lost the downloaded data. So If your app downloads extra data from servers, you may need to take /Android/data/[app package directory] to avoid extensive data download after installation. There is an option in this tool to take entire internal sd card image as virtual sd card.

Just explore more about this tool and decide if it really can work for you.

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let me starting answering the title question, about backups: honestly, titanium backup is overrated. (unless you have a lot of non-market app, or apps that have weird local data storage --I, like most people, do not have either)

second, depending on rom compatibility, your apps will be untouched. but do not count on it. I count on it when i update the nightly cyranogen ROM on my device, but that's the only case when i do that.

For a new rom, you wouldn't even want the same apps to being with. for example, most of my apps before i flashed cyanogen mod were to give me lame solutions for what i was missing without cyanogen. after i got cyanogen, i think i reinstalled only 1/3 of the apps i had before.

Also, very few apps will store anything exclusively locally nowadays. just go over your list of app, see the ones that install data locally, export it one way or another, just wipe, reinstall and restore.

now it's even easier than before as the market will save your previous installs.

now to the particular phone issue: there's something wrong. i never had a phone sans SD-card, even the touchpad has a fake SD partition... i assumed every install of android required a /data partition to begin with. But even if your phone does not have one, i think it's possible to create, as the guys from cyanogen mod created on the touchpad.

now, if by full wipe you really mean full wipe (factory reset something) than you ARE wiping the /data partition as well as the system and the dalvik cache, and everything is normal. you just have to stop doing it :)

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You can use adb backup command to back-up everything to your PC. Use this manual on XDA for correct parameters.

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This is intriguing, however my question is aimed at finding a way to not erase the entire phone (including SD partition) to begin with. Any thoughts there? –  jlehenbauer Dec 4 '12 at 15:16
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A combination of Titanium Backup ★ root and FolderSync might do. You need to set it up once, then have TB taking care to backup your apps and apps data -- while FolderSync automatically transfers those backups plus additional selected folders ("SD contents") to your computer when connected to your local WiFi network.

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Unfortunately Titanium Backup has problems with SMS transfer between different ROMs, so need to use SMS Backup too (tested transfer between 2.1 and 4.1). –  Penguinolog Dec 4 '12 at 7:38
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Did you check TBs "Migration" feature (which btw. always should be used when transfering data between different ROMs)? According to Joël (the dev) this should work. –  Izzy Dec 4 '12 at 7:52
    
I can make Titanium Backup sync with my dropbox, it just takes sooo long to upload (usually over a gb). –  jlehenbauer Dec 7 '12 at 18:35
    
@jlehenbauer that's why I mentioned FolderSync to do a sync to your local computer via WiFi. Much faster :) –  Izzy Dec 7 '12 at 18:47
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