I'm planning to get a new android phone and I'm wondering what's considered best practice to move all data and settings. I know that lots of stuff goes to google, but I'd like to migrate app data as well. I know that I can do an rsync of the SD card and move things like pictures, but which directories should I move? Could anything bad happen from me just doing an rsync of the entire old card to the new one?

My old phone isn't rooted (yet) so I can't access /data, but if I did root it to grab that stuff, I'm not sure how I would feel about rooting the new phone - is there somewhere I could drop the files grabbed from /data on the old phone to somewhere on the new one to get things to "just work"?

I'm migrating from Moto Droid 1 to 4

  • I'm looking at using rsync and my linux desktop because I want to avoid large data transfers over the network
    – zje
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 21:55
  • You probably don't have ICS on your phone, but this might help others: Full phone backup without unlock or root. Uses adb backup which requires 4.0+. Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


A new phone could mean a new/differently configured Android version, so you would need to be extremely careful restoring your rsync'd data on the new device. While it certainly cannot hurt to have that backup, I'd not recommend restoring it to a different device.

A much safer way would be using Titanium Backup instead (pro-version strongly recommended for batch processing -- but you of course can check with the free version before). This nice app not only creates full backups (apps+data+system data), but also offers a migration mode for restoring a backup to a different device/ROM: Instead of simply replacing files on the new system (which can e.g. break some databases due to changed/different structures when it comes to system data like e.g. SMS, in which case you will experience some nice force-closes of the corresponding apps/frameworks), it tries just to fit the data into the existing databases, and does some other "tricks".

Also the app is well supported and worth every cent/Frank (dev lives in Switzerland). Scheduled backups, freezing/uninstalling system apps, converting downloaded apps to system apps (and vice versa), plus so many other nice features make this app a MUST-HAVE on any rooted Android device (and who knows me also knows I rarely speak of any "must-have app").


Using rsync to migrate your SD data would be fine...there shouldn't be any harm to copying the entire contents of /sdcard, but now would be a good time to clean it up. You can use rsync or just plain copy/paste, and migrate everything piecemeal either to your computer or directly to the new phone (just plug both in via USB to your computer at the same time).

The main concern is any pictures, music, etc. that you have on there. Beyond that, check for any app data you'd want. Some apps store their data in /sdcard/appname/, but most use /sdcard/Android/data/full.app.name instead (this is a little harder to decipher, as the names don't always match what the app displays as...Amazon's App Store is com.amazon.venezia, for example). Games may have saved games or high scores, games or other apps may have large data packs saved, and most apps back up their settings somewhere on /sdcard when you hit "back up settings" or "export settings" in a menu.

If you're wanting anything else, check out a similar question. The short answer is you probably need root to back up actual app data that isn't on the SD card, and an app that will do it for you (Titanium Backup is pretty much the de facto standard).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .