I've had this issue with both my GS3 and now my N5. I routinely wipe my phone and start over fresh, so using apps like TitaniumBackup and Helium does not help me since I don't plan on restoring any of my apps in the future.

My problem arises when I connect my phone to either my PC or my Mac laptop, and attempt to just backup ALL of the files ("Backup ALL the files!") to my computer or an external hard drive. The computer will start copying the files, but then the progress bar disappears after a few seconds (well before hitting 100%) with no errors or messages. Upon checking the copied files, some folders and files are completely backed up with a simple drag and drop, but other folders don't.

I have the phone set on MTP and debugging is enabled, and all of the files show up. I realize that some folders don't allow you to just drag and drop them (possibly the "Android" folder?), but others, like my "Downloads" folder, shouldn't have any restrictions, right?

How can I simply make a full backup of all of the files that are on the phone? I've done this successfully in the past, but cannot remember what method or program was used.

  • In addition to the answers below, take a look at the answers here. Should get you going.
    – Firelord
    Jun 1 '15 at 18:47

MTP might not be reliable enough for that. Several approaches I can offer:

using on-board capabilities via ADB

This requires ADB tools being available on your computer (see e.g. Is there a minimal installation of ADB? for how to meet this). Now let's see how to get the files over.

  1. open a command prompt, and (optionally) switch to the directory your adb executable is in
  2. Make sure is activated on your device
  3. connect your device via USB
  4. assuming your SDCard is mounted/available as /sdcard on your device, let's copy it with its contents:

    adb pull /sdcard /home/chris/android/sdcard

Just adjust the path to your needs ;)

using an app with a more user-friendly GUI

I use FolderSync to keep several directories backed-up. The big pro of this approach is: even if your device hard-crashes one day, you still have a quite up-to-date backup of all files on your computer.

FolderSync Main FolderSync Pairs
FolderSync: Main screen, folder pairs (source: Google Play; click images for larger variants)

FolderSync supports a lot of services and protocols – not only cloud storage. You can easily use it with Windows shares (aka Samba aka SMB), or via SCP on Linux, or FTP with any server, amongst others. Simply define folder pairs (which directory on your device shall be kept in sync with which remote directory), and setup a schedule (e.g. whenever connected to your home WiFi, at 3 am), and there you go. With the Pro version (which I use) you can even set it to "manual only", and trigger it via .

Of course, you also can set it to "manual", and then initiate the transfer whenever you find it useful. Being a "Sync tool", it will always only copy those files needing to be copied – if the same file exists on both ends with the same content and timestamp, it doesn't need to be copied again ;)

Other options

Plenty of them. More sync tools. Or a remote manager like AirDroid. Or using a file manager with remote capabilities, like ES File Explorer. Just to give you some ideas ;)


There is a way to create one in all backup at once using ADB (will include your own data as well as apps data etc).

  • First setup ADB from above link (make sure you install proper drivers first).

  • Enable USB Debugging on your phone and connect it to pc. You dont need to go in recovery or fastboot mode. Connect it while its normally powered on.

  • Open CMD/Terminal and run the command adb devices. If it returns some output that means that phone is successfully recognized by ADB. Otherwise if there's no output then you will need to reinstall correct drivers.

  • Once the phone is recognized, we now begin real process. First, to tell you what we are going to do, we will use adb backup to backup entirely everything! Including internal memory, system, apps, data etc etc (you have options to choose what you want to backup).

  • The base command syntax for adb backup goes like this->

    adb backup [-f ] [-apk|-noapk] [-shared|-noshared] [-all] [-system|nosystem] []

To explain parameters:

1) f: This switch determines your backup location. For instance, -f D:/Backup/mybackup.ab will save the backup file inside D:/ drive and then inside a folder called Backup and with file name mybackup.ab.

2) -apk|-noapk: This switch is responsible for including APKs (to include APKs, or not that is). By default if you do not specify any option, it uses -noapk. Personally, I suggest you turn it on so you dont have to download APK from market while restoring. If you decide not to include APKs, only app's respective data will be backuped without APK itself.

3) -shared|-noshared: This is used to enable/disable backup of /sdcard contents. Although I suggest that you manually backup your personal photos, music etc since sometimes it doesn't backup everything. Default is -noshared if not specified.

4) -all: This is used to backup ALL apps. Unless you are backing up some specific app, I would say just keep it on.

5) -system|-nosystem: This is to include system or pre-installed applications in your backup too. Default is -system

6) <packages...>: This allows you to backup specific apps/packages. Just mention the name here (for ex-> com.facebook.orca (just an imaginary name)).

  • Once you have chosen your command and swiitches and what you want to backup, run the commmand in cmd. For ex, for me, I used the command adb backup -apk -shared -system -all -f D:/DroidBackup.ab.

  • You will see a dialog box on your device asking a password for encryption. Enter the password (if desired) and RETAIN IT TO BE ABLE TO RESTORE DATA.

  • It may take quite a time depending on what you decide to backup.

NOTE: Depeding on what you backuped, you may need to root your device to restore. For ex, if you backup system apps, then you can do that without root. But you will need root while restoring the backup. Since we need root to write to /system partition.

How to Restore:

Connect to ADB the same way as above. Then use command adb restore PathToBackupAndFileName.ab.

You will get a prompt on your device, enter the password you chose in previous step and press Restore my Data button on phone.


This does NOT backup Messages, so use some external app to manually do that.

When I performed this about a 2 years ago, it didn't work unless I gave it a password. So try not to leave that password field blank (although that bug is likely to be fixed now. Just telling in case its still there...).

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