How To Complete A Full Backup Of Your Android Phone [1.6+]
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android phone backupI’ve been using Titanium Backup ever since I got my first Android device. I love backup applications (for PC and otherwise), and Titanium is as good as it gets. In this short introduction I’d like to show you how to make a complete backup of your phone, as well as share some tips from my time with Titanium Backup.

What You Should Have

First and foremost, your Android device should be rooted. If you’re not quite sure what that means or how to root your phone, check out our post entitled How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick Read More , which actually links to several different methods. Once your phone is rooted, install Titanium Backup. I strongly suggest you also get the PRO Key for the software, which enables it to run without any limitations (and supports the developer for their hard work). It is well worth the modest $6 price tag.

Getting Started

When you first launch Titanium Backup, you should see something like this:

android phone backup

The X next to Dropbox means I did not configure Titanium Backup to sync my backups to Dropbox – that’s optional, and I don’t think it’s very important. The other checkmarks are important, though, so make sure they’re all checked. If any of them are not checked, tap the “Problems?” button:

backup software android phone

If needed, tap Upgrade Superuser and you should be fine.

Scheduling a Backup

Like all decent backup applications, Titanium can run unattended, according to a set schedule. Let’s configure that schedule by tapping the Schedules button (at the top of the app):

backup software android phone

Here, you can already see the schedule I personally use on my phone. Let’s see how to get there. Tap “Add new schedule“:

backup software android phone

A new row will appear. Note that there is no checkmark next to “Enabled“, and that by default, the job type is “Redo backups for newer app versions“. Also, the schedule isn’t quite adequate (once a week is much too infrequent). Let’s change all that by tapping Edit:

android backup

First, let’s change the job type. I recommend “Backup all user apps + system data“:

android backup

Note that you can also schedule operations that are not strictly backup related. For example, you could have Titanium Backup delete all the backups for uninstalled applications once a week ( a good idea).

Once you’ve selected a job type, all that’s left is to set up the time when the backup should happen:

android backup

I like to set it to 11am every day, because that’s a time when I’m near my phone but I am not actively using it. When the backup begins, Titanium switches the screen on, so I can instantly see that backup is running even if I’m busy doing something else. Also, make sure you set this to a time when your phone is likely to be charged or charging – you don’t want the battery to run out mid-backup. Last but not least, make sure you tap the Enabled checkbox in the main list, as shown above.

For basic Titanium Backup use, that’s all there is to it. There is just one more important point you should be aware of:

Keeping Past Backups

By default, Titanium Backup saves only the most recent backup of any application. That’s a prudent policy, because it makes sure Titanium doesn’t fill up your SD card. But if you have enough space, it may be a good idea to increase the amount of recent backups Titanium saves. Sometimes applications can become corrupted in various creative ways (especially if you’re in the habit of testing lots of applications and messing about with the phone). If you only have the most recent backup, it may not be of much use. Perhaps the application in question became corrupted two days ago, and you just didn’t notice so far?

That’s why I think it’s a good idea to maintain multiple versions of each application backup, so you can use Titanium Backup like a “time machine” for your phone, and go back in time to any previous version. Here’s how you configure it:

Tap the Menu button, and then tap Preferences:


Within the (insanely long) Preferences list, scroll down to “Max backup history“:


Tap it, and set it to a value that seems sensible to you:


As you can see, I like to retain many past backups. Now, whenever I tap a backed-up application, I can restore not only the most recent backup, but any saved backup:


Bonus: Batch Uninstall

Titanium Backup is extremely powerful, and can be used for much more than backup. I install numerous apps on my phone every week, and Titanium lets me remove them en masse, rather than one by one. Let me show you how.

Tap the Menu button and tap Batch:


In the menu that opens, scroll down to Un-install:


Tap RUN next to “Un-install all user apps”. I know it sounds scary, but trust me on this one. You should see a list of all of your apps, with a checkmark next to each:


Next, tap Deselect all. This is important as you don’t actually want to uninstall all of your apps. Now, scroll down the list, marking only those apps you actually do want to uninstall:

android phone backup

Once you’re done marking then, tap “Run the batch operation“. Your apps would then all be uninstalled in one fell swoop – much faster than uninstalling them one by one via the Market.

Final Thoughts

Titanium Backup is one of the most powerful (and purchase-worthy) applications on my phone. This post has only scratched its power. What other things do you use it for? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Nelleay
    February 13, 2017 at 9:31 am

    To backup android phone data to pc, some professional data backup programs are good choices for you, like Titanium Backup and airdroid, they are popular backup tool. And I use a direct android transfer app to save text messages, contacts, photos, and other media files like videos, music files, I think it is helpful, you can have a try, MobiKin Assistant for Android.

  2. James Bruce
    November 9, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Is this the only way to do a full backup of your phone Erez? Isn't this built-in the core OS features? 

    I'm just looking through the screenshots, and from a new user / avrage joe point of view "Convert DBs to Rollback Journal" etc isn't exactly user friendly. As far as I can tell, Android is purely for supergeeks and linux users, and people who aren't prepared to put in the time to install malware and virus scanner/root/backup apps just get screwed with substandard phones. Am I wrong? You have to jailbreak your android to do this too right? 

    I'm trying to understand why everyone is always complaining that you need to jailbreak an iPhone becauses it's so locked down - to "do anything useful"  - when you clearly have to do the same for android too. 

    • Erez Zukerman
      November 9, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Hi James! Thanks for commenting :)

      Well, there are simpler ways to back up your device, but they don't provide the same amount of granularity and control. For example, there's Lookout, which is an anti-virus that also does backup. A quick search through the market for "backup" will reveal plenty of other options, too.

      Titanium looks a bit intimidating, but really, all you need to do to use it is just follow the quick tutorial above. 

      I feel that "regular Joes" can benefit from Android as well... Of course, as a geek, I revel in the amount of control it gives me. I didn't touch on Nandroid backups, for example, which are complete NAND-level (OS+apps) backups that completely protect you even if your phone goes completely crazy.

    • Cicas
      November 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      Hi James,
      there is a couple of solutions for backing up android phones and just the most complex ones (like this one) require root ("jailbreak"). Personaly I use built-in backing up tool in File Expert (file manager) and that's just fine for me:)
      On the fact that android is just for supergeeks and linux users - well I use linux, but I don't think this is some kind of rule. I've plenty of windows friends with android phones. But there is other difference.
      I think iOS is suited for "general" users, who upload pics to facebook, need to tweet every five minutes and this sort of stuff. Then there are users who need to do something else. Like me. I bought android phone as a wifi terminal, pdf reader and spreadsheet calculator. Thus my cheap android phone with five-directional cross-button (excelent in spreadsheet) is very suitable for me and cost me just 1/10 of the iPhone price:)
      I don't want to say there are just "iSheeps" and "supergeeks" but that someone doesn't need fancy iPhone. Not even talking about top android phones:)
      And (not sure about that) I think, jailbreaking of iPhone is much more difficult then rooting android (there is even an app(s) for that:))

    • Robert Russell
      February 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Hi James, you DO NOT have to root your Android to get very good use of it. AND, you don't have to be a supergeek in case you WANT to root it, just use one of the apps and follow instructions. It's easy.

  3. Paap Neemelaid
    November 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    can it be done with mac computer, your instructions for rooting cellphone needs windows pc, i don't have one and therefore these instructions are pretty useless to me

    • Erez Zukerman
      November 9, 2011 at 7:35 am

      Yes, you can definitely root a phone with a Mac, or with no computer at all. What phone do you have, and what version of Android?