I'm trying to back up the apks and preference data for all of the apps on my device, but it only backs up about a third of them; the remainder all have allowBackup=false in their manifests, which disables the ability to back them up, either with adb or with Helium.

I'd much prefer not to have to go through each of the apks one by one, extract their manifests, change them, then make them apks and add them to my device again. So is there a way of ignoring allowBackup=false when doing adb backup? Or, is there an app or shell command I could run that would find all of the apps with allowBackup set to false and set them to true?

I checked out this app that's supposed to do just that, but was unable to run it since it doesn't have an activity specified. If there's any easy way of getting that to work, or any alternative to it, that would be great.

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    Is your device rooted? Do you have Xposed installed? Then there's a module (BackupAllApps, if I remember the name correctly) which could help you out that simply allows all backups via ADB (ignoring the allowBackup setting). – Izzy Mar 24 '18 at 8:49
  • @Izzy Unfortunately my device isn't rooted. I'm not sure, but as best I understand it, I'd have to unlock the bootloader to root it, effectively wiping the device and nulling the point of backing it up. – Laef Mar 24 '18 at 16:50
  • Without root powers, there is no way, sorry. – Izzy Mar 24 '18 at 17:30
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    @laef Depending on your Android version you may be vulnerable against a root exploit which can allow you to get a root shell just by executing the exploit - no reboot, no wipe. Common "suspects" are e.g. towelroot. Check your security patch level date to see if your device OS is old enough. – Robert Apr 6 '18 at 20:03

This is specifically put into the application by the developer so that people can not make a copy of the application ( usually to stop reverse engineering )

It would probably constitute as copyright if you ignored the allowBackup=false and made a copy of it anyway, so most applications won't allow it to respect other developers wishes.

This obviously would apply to rooted phones as well.

  • I'm afraid this doesn't really answer my question. I know why many apps set allowBackup to false. However, considering that the data each app keeps was generated by my use of the app, I think it's fair to consider that I have a right to back up such data. – Laef Mar 24 '18 at 5:20
  • The user generated content would be stored inside data, So instead of opening system folder, you'd open the data folder ... Usually it's DATA > DATA > PACKAGE.NAME > USER GENERATED FOLDERS > USER GENERATED FILES .... So the path will look like data/data/my.app.name/assets/file.txt – Gadget Guru Mar 24 '18 at 19:09
  • For the sake of the argument, you could research whether making copies for backup purposes effectively constitutes copyright infringement, or if it's mere speculation, no? – Grimoire Mar 25 '18 at 15:34

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