I wanted to back up everything on my phone: call logs, messages, whatsapp texts, photos, videos, screenshots, screen video captures, recordings, app data... and everything else, before selling my phone. So, basically, data-wise, I wan't to create a clone of the (entire) current state of my phone. I don't necessarily wan't to restore all of it on my new phone, but I want to be able to access the stuff that I backed-up on my computer later, when needed...I saw a few answers on this site, but they don't answer my questions fully.

  1. Is the command line adb backup -apk -shared -all -f <filename> well-suited to my purpose?
  2. My phone has 32G capacity, but the backup file generated is only 5.3G. How do I know that the backup completed properly and contains all the data I wanted?
  3. Are there ways to do the backup over a network (WAN) using ADB, instead of having to depend on the USB debugging mode.


  1. No, adb backup will only backup the applications that has Backup option enabled.
  2. It depends on which data
  3. Yes, you use can connect to ADB over TCP (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2604727/how-can-i-connect-to-android-with-adb-over-tcp).


  • List applications that probably can be backed up:
adb shell 
for package in $(pm list packages -3 | cut -f2 -d":"); do
dumpsys package $package | grep "ALLOW_BACKUP" > /dev/null  && echo $package;

Probably: WhatsApp has ALLOW_BACKUP flag but cannot be backed up with ADB.

  • Verify the backup:

To verify the application has been backed up successfully, you can use the Android backup extractor tool.

  • Storage backup:
adb pull /storage
  • Backup SMS:
adb pull content query --uri content://sms
  • Backup contacts:
adb shell content query --uri content://com.android.contacts/data
  • Note that adb is not encrypted or protected at all (security equivalent to telnet). Therefore using it over a WAN connection is not recommended. I would recommend to only use it within a private WPA2/3 secured Wifi network.
    – Robert
    Aug 20 '20 at 15:40
  • Note that -shared includes shared storage (SD card contents), so your point 1 is a bit incomplete. But you're correct: apps can opt-out of backup and thus would not be included.
    – Izzy
    Aug 20 '20 at 21:47

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