I'm having trouble with my new Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant running 2.1. It constantly reboots and I'm going to return it for a replacement unit. How can I transfer all of my phone settings, contacts, apps, app settings and pictures/movies from the old phone to the new one?


5 Answers 5


Lookout should do all, or at least most, of this for you.

(Warning: Market-speak follows)

Your mobile device is your most personal computer. It contains your personal data including contacts, photos, video, e-mail, and text messages. Backup your data and keep it safe and secure.

Whether you accidently delete data, your phone is lost, or even destroyed--your data is safe. You can restore any data with the click of a mouse. Changing devices is just as easy and your data can be transferred in seconds.

  • Forgot about that. I actually use Lookout, but haven't used it for backup yet. A quick look in their backend shows that it only backs up pictures, contacts and calls despite their market description saying they do video, email and text messages too. That being said off all these things the only two things that aren't synced by cloud or sd card and would need to be backed up are the call log and text messages.
    – Matt
    Sep 28, 2010 at 17:28
  • Thanks for all of the responses. I have Lookout, but didn't realize it backed up contacts also.
    – Will Z
    Oct 10, 2010 at 20:30
  • 2
    Lookout does not seem to backup apps
    – lowellk
    Nov 3, 2011 at 20:04

This Answer is valid for the Android 4.x.x. We will proceed with the use of ADB tool available for Android and it is not required for the Device to be Rooted at all. The answer is meant to be generalized rather than Android Device Specific.

Method using Linux System :

  • Install ADB related tools from the repositories of your installed Linux Distro.
  • Enable USB Debugging in Developer Options and Choose USB Storage or MTP as USB connection.
  • Open Terminal in Linux and type adb start-server.
  • Type adb devices. It should list the output as Serial No. and Device where Serial No. is the Device's Serial No. In case, you're getting any issue with ADB detecting the device, there are many questions at Android Stackexchange, so you may search them if you need assistance.

Backup UserData:

  • There are two options to backup the UserData (Storage where Multimedia Files, Camera Images, other stuff you store). Either by ADB collectively with Apps OR by just copy-paste.

  • If your device Supports USB Storage Mount, then its easy as Linux will detect it as Removable Device and you can copy-paste the data into system.

  • If only MTP is supported, download MTP specific package from your Linux repos. It will detect the device. If none works, Airdroid for Android from Playstore can help. But that would be too much to discuss here.

  • Windows detects both MTP and USB Storage easily, so no need for any specific software installation.

To backup User Apps Apk's, the App Data, Custom Settings of Android, Messages, etc.

  • Open Terminal and type adb backup -f backup_file.ab -all -apk -system. This will backup only the User, System Apps and App Data with no UserData.

  • If you want to backup UserData too then type adb backup -f backup_file.ab -all -apk -system -shared. backup_file.ab is the name of the backup file in your Linux system.

  • It is to be mentioned that parameters like -noapk -noshared -nosystem are also available. You can check the Manual page of ADB for more commands if you want.

Note: When you enter any of the adb backup command, a window will show up in Android asking your permission to Backup or Cancel. Choose Backup; you can also select a password their but that's optional. Also make sure that the Device remains awake by changing Display settings, and don't do anything on the Android device while it makes the backup.

To Restore the Backup:

  • Connect the other device and check whether its getting detected or not on Linux,
  • Type in Terminal adb restore backup_file.ab. It will show a window in Android asking to Restore or Cancel. Choose Restore and let it do the job. Restore can take a lot of time depending upon the size of backup. Besides, it might get interrupted because System Settings when restored can disrupt the Backup Window and cancel the backup. So keep trying. Reboot the device and you're good to go.

Backup Contacts exclusively:

It is strongly advised to backup contacts through methods other than ADB.

  • One option is to Sync the contacts with the Google Account in Settings and then use the same account on another device to restore.

  • Other method is to open Contacts or People app (native) in Android and export the contacts to Internal/External SD card. I prefer the latter one. It creates a file with VCF format. You can open the file in another device and it will restore the contacts in it.

I don't use Windows but there are plenty of Questions/Answers regarding how to use ADB in Windows here at Android Stackexchange, so you need not to worry at all.

Method involving no ADB backup Commands:

  • Download Helium app from Playstore and open it in Android Device.
  • If you're on Linux system and ADB is able to detect your device, then you can download Chrome App Helium Backup for Linux.
  • Open Helium app first on Android, connect your device to Linux, Open Helium App in Chrome now.
  • If all goes fine as it should, the Android Helium app will allow you to backup directly into External/Internal SD card. Copy the Storage files into other device. Follow the same detection procedure for other device, and then you can restore the Apps easily without any commands. The backup made by helium is stored in the folder named Carbon in the Storage you selected during backup.

Keep the SD card when you return the phone and put it in the new phone you get.

Contacts: You contacts are constantly synced with the Google account associated with the phone so there's no need to back those up.

Media: Pictures and Movies should be stored on the SD card which you will keep.

Apps: You can back them up to the SD card with a 3rd party app or sign up for appbrain which syncs with your phone and keeps a list of all the installed apps. You can then reinstall them right from Appbrain.

Settings: Theres no way out of the box to back up phone and app settings.

Other: There are a number of free apps in the market that backup particular data like you SMS messages, your call log, your apps...

Total Solution: There are a couple apps out there that claim to backup and restore the entire phone. I actaully had the same exact problem you are having back in January with my Droid. I used a free version of MyBackup Pro back them but I'm sorry to say I can't even remember if it worked. Its worth a shot but use caution, it seems to have some mixed reviews.


If you're rooted, you can do a nandroid backup of the entire phone (it's like taking a snapshot of the phone's data) and you should be able to push it on the new phone so long as it is the same model.

Additionally, if you're rooted, you can use Titanium backup on the apps on your phone: it'll do both the app and the data associatied with the app.


There seems to be an app for this now called Helium, which does not require root and takes care off of apps and their settings only (you'll have to do contacts and photos and such in other ways, e.g. through Google or your SD card). It does require the Pro version for the full functionality, which is currently $5 USD.

  • 1
    Since it is Android 4.4.2, you can export all contacts in .vcf file directly from Native Contacts or People app of Android. Is this what you implied by mentioning through SD card? Also, all of this can be done through ADB backup command and Helium actually does the similar thing. You don't even need to buy it. But both the devices has to be same otherwise, as obvious, Settings and other important files will crash the apps recursively. I use this command to backup adb backup -all -system -shared -f backup_file.ab and adb restore backup_file.ab to restore.
    – Firelord
    Mar 3, 2015 at 19:59
  • @Firelord Oh cool I didn't know adb could do that (I don't know much about it). I am going to try that way and save myself $5. "Through SD card" I just meant copying data to SD card, if it wasn't there already, and copying it back to new phone (like your photo or music or video files, I don't know much about contacts though I just use Google contacts and never worry about it).
    – Jason C
    Mar 3, 2015 at 20:03
  • 1
    About the Userdata i.e. the photo,music, etc., I advise using Xender from Playstore because you will notice that Helium and ADB takes a lot of time in backup and restore if UserData is involved. Xender creates hotspot to send data between devices. Since its wifi, so speed should be relatively 2-5MB/s or more. At 'least that's what I get, and its no pain, only gain. :)
    – Firelord
    Mar 3, 2015 at 20:19
  • @Firelord adb worked perfectly; if you want to post that as an answer I'll give you the bounty (it expires in 24 hours).
    – Jason C
    Mar 7, 2015 at 2:07

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