Although I am fairly technically proficient, I am very new to Android, having only very recently purchased my first Android device, the Galaxy S4 phone, T-Mobile USA version, latest stock ROM.

I should mention that I have no interest in backing up the PIM data, as I have a Microsoft Exchange account through work, and have all my contacts, calendar, etc. on Exchange, and could easily re-sync it if lost on the phone. Of course also that Exchange e-mail account, but also have other personal IMAP e-mail accounts, which could also be re-synced. However, important for me to back up device settings, app settings, etc., as that could take many hours to re-configure if lost.

There seem to be various backup apps available, although some only work if the device is rooted. I have used Helium, and also Samsung Kies.

I am wondering, however, if the following would work:

What if, with a file explorer, either on the phone or on the desktop (with phone connected via USB and all files showing on the desktop computer), with the file explorer set to show all files--hidden, system, etc., show extensions, etc., one just copied everything in the phone's internal memory to a folder on the memory card? (And of course one could then copy that folder to a PC as well.) Would that folder have all the settings, etc., in it? If the phone crashed and lost all its data, but the memory card was still good (or if not,m and one saved the folder to an external computer), could one then restore the system to how it was by copying all the files in that folder back to the phone's internal memory?

Of course, one could save space by compressing that folder into a .zip, .rar, .7z, or other compressed file.

However, I have no idea whether saving all the files in internal memory (with the file explorer set to show everything) to the memory card or PC would really save all settings, etc., to be able to restore it to the state when one did that if need be.

Does anyone here know if that would work?

Thanks in advance for your response.

  • That's what Titanium Backup does. However, it requires root, and also in line with your question, you need root to be able to backup everything as you described.
    – t0mm13b
    Aug 10, 2013 at 23:03
  • I don't know whether or not that would work, but you might want to check out this post: android.stackexchange.com/questions/28296/… Aug 10, 2013 at 23:16
  • It's not as simple as "copying the files" (and that's also not exactly what Titanium Backup does). Several services keep their data in memory, once loaded, and write changes back when they quit (and thus would overwrite some of the files you "restored"). So no, it wouldn't work reliably to use a simple file-copy, even when rooted.
    – Izzy
    Aug 11, 2013 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


Operation system has different processes constantly being loaded in and out of memory and constantly changing states. It's complex than just the collection of files and folders. So, if you want to copy everything and restore everything just using file browser, it would be impossible. To save app data only, you can use titanium backup but you need root permissions.

You must log in to answer this question.

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