I read this great answer about how sets work, but I'm seeing behavior I don't understand in this app.

I just installed on a device that has never had the app installed (I think, see bottom) and nothing was restored. Through adb, I tried the command bmgr restore <package_name> and it said "unable to restore".

So then I did bmgr list sets and saw that there was only one set available (from a different device). I thought, "well that's got to be the one it's trying to use and failing." But then I ran bmgr restore <set token> <package_name> and restore worked! And now restore works without the token name either.

If there was only one set to use, why didn't it restore properly? Was there another hidden set? It's possible the app was installed before, but I called bmgr wipe <package_name> and toggled bmgr enable true/false to clear any pre-existing data.

1 Answer 1


bmgr restore package doesn't reinstall an app: it sends a signal to the installed app to make it restore its data from backup. If the app isn't installed, you get the error message you saw.

It's the Play Store app that's responsible for installing other apps. If you like, you can think of the list of installed apps as Play Store's backup data, and it restores from that backup by installing all the apps in the list. This takes some time and happens silently in the background, since the backup mechanism is designed to be invisible to the user.

It's possible that Play Store managed to install your target app in between your first and last bmgr restore commands, or that toggling bmgr enable triggered it to reinstall the app at that point.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer. I should clarify that I called bmgr restore package after my app was installed (its main activity was already loaded), so I know the package was on the device. What doesn't make sense to me is that restoring without specifying the set failed but restoring with the set specified succeeded. There was only one set to choose from.
    – NSouth
    Nov 19, 2014 at 12:34

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