I'm thinking about moving onto a custom ROM, but I don't want to permanently lose any DRM keys. How do I go about fully backing up the contents of the phone before mucking around with it?

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    I don't know whether those DRM keys would be backed up, but this is the popular and seems to be the only choice to backup non-rooted devices: Full Backup of non-rooted devices – Firelord Aug 12 '15 at 4:01
  • @Firelord that's helpful, but I don't think any of those methods can backup the partition that contains the DRM keys. – lid Aug 12 '15 at 13:34

I figured it out eventually. It's not easy, because you need to get root before wiping anything (or unlocking the bootloader, which would wipe everything).

  • Download a copy of the old firmware, which you can find at the XDA forums. You will need to downgrade to this old firmware so that you can take advantage of an old root exploit (vulnerability). I used version 17.1.2.A.0.314 from the UK, but anything from 4.4.2 should work.
  • Obtain root and install a custom recovery so that we can use it upgrade the firmware. XZDualRecovery is popular. I used Z2-lockeddualrecovery2.8.21-RELEASE.installer.zip. This includes a root exploit so that it can install the recovery.
  • You can use the custom recovery (TWRP) to create a backup of the TA partition that includes the DRM keys.
  • Use the recovery to upgrade back to an up-to-date official firmware version. You need a pre-rooted firmware (PRF) zip file. The best place to look for one is on XDA's Xperia forums. Here's an example for version 23.4.A.1.232. Don't forget to clear the Dalvik cache.

This process does not require you to unlock the bootloader, so the DRM keys are never wiped.


To backup your phone, first you have to root it. Depends on your Android version, root method is different. After you root your device, you can backup your DRM keys in TA partition with this app. After you backup your TA partition, you are good to unlock BL. If you want to use your DRM keys again, relock BL and restore TA partition. (Unlocking BL delete ALL data on your device internal storage. Remeber to backup your data first)

  • Thanks for the overview. Can you elaborate on how to root, and how to unlock the bootloader? – lid Aug 15 '15 at 6:46
  • What android version are you on? – NoImNotNull Aug 16 '15 at 0:50
  • 23.4.A.0.546, Lollipop – lid Aug 16 '15 at 10:33

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