This is not a duplicate of How to verify a backup file from ADB backup. The poster there probably didn't know that an unrooted phone requires -nosystem (ref) and ended with a 0 byte file, where my backup file is almost 8GB.

Given that adb gives almost zero feedback on it's backup progress and success or failure. How can I be confident that the backup I've just completed is a good one? and that it contains what I think it does? and that it will (probably) work to restore or extract data from?

I have the one android device (Nexus 5), access to Win7 PCs, and ubuntu virtual machines if needed.

  • Though not directly related to your question, this does answer it in a very round-about way. I found this blog which gives directions on how to open the file and modify contents. My reasoning is that if the file opens then it should probably be ok.<br> Here's the link: nelenkov.blogspot.in/2012/06/…> I'd really love if anyone finds a more straight forward foolproof approach and post it here. Dec 9, 2014 at 15:42

2 Answers 2


If you're on Linux, Adebar contains a tiny little shell script to convert ADB Backups (.ab) to tar files, which you then easily can investigate with any archive manager. Only limitation is: it doesn't work on password protected backup files.

The basic command it runs (everything else mainly is a wrapper for command line options and syntax) is:

dd if=$1 bs=24 skip=1 | openssl zlib -d >${1%%.ab}.tar && gzip -9 ${1%%.ab}.tar

A command I've found here on SE some time in the past (full disclosure: I'm the author of Adebar) – see here.

As you can see in the quoted command, it requires openssl and zlib to be available.

  • note: On Ubuntu, the 'openssl zlib -d' will give you an error message. You can use 'zlib-flate -uncompress' instead.
    – jelle foks
    Feb 17, 2015 at 6:43
  • Umm? I use it that way on Ubuntu. Adebar is being developed/tested on Ubuntu even. But it's always good to have alternatives, so thanks for the note, @jellefoks!
    – Izzy
    Feb 17, 2015 at 12:45

For unencrypted backups, it is possible to list the content using the command

dd if=backup-file2.ab bs=24 skip=1 | pigz -d | tar -tvf - > backup-file.ab.list

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