Backups, bootloader, root

A big point any alternative Android I have seen lacks, is a comprehensive backup solution comparable to the iPhone-way of backing up on one device -> restoring on another device => everything gets transferred.
So what I’ve done until now was TWRP and oandbackup (and file synchronization). TWRP is comprehensive (except for data on the internal and external storage), but device specific. And oandbackup only works for some apps and doesn’t cover the rest of the apps, most settings,… So even both together are far from ideal and both of them are not available with a locked bootloader.
Now I have set up my FP3 following the tutorial (and locked the bootloader) and I have transferred some of my stuff from my S5 (LineageOS with microG), but halfway through, I realized that even none of my far from ideal backup process is available that way.
So I’m trying to make up my mind regarding two things now:

  1. Even with my TWRP + oandbackup backup process I don’t feel prepared for a device failure or theft. So I can’t imagine using the FP3 even without that. Is there any reasonable alternative to produce backups on a device with a locked bootloader? How do you do it? Or is there no way around unlocking the bootloader until something better comes up?
  2. Isn’t it one of the most important features for /e/ then to come up with a comprehensive backup solution that works with locked bootloaders? One promising suggestion I have found is this one, which looks a lot like a better version of oandbackup:

How realistic is an implementation of this? Are there alternative plans?

To me, /e/ is the most promising open smartphone OS project that I came across in the last 5 years or more so thank you very much!

5 Likes

Invite you to join the following discussion:

1 Like

I’ll take part in the discussions, thanks!

Personally I do not insist on having a locked bootloader, but that is /e/'s general advice towards users according to the tutorials. And I do understand the end goal of enabling people to use /e/ with locked BL, but for now that also means locking them in on a system without a backup (correct me, if I’m wrong).

So to me it looks like my two points from above lead to

  1. Short-term: There’s no way around an unlocked bootloader, if I want backups. Additionally I have to decide right now when setting up, because I’d loose all app data, if I’d unlock the BL later on. Maybe an unlocked bootloader with encrypted storage is the better general advice for the time being?
  2. Long-term: Either way, a powerful backup solution for /e/ is critical, either to
    • Elevate users with locked BLs from their backup-less state
    • Enable users with unlocked BLs to lock without loosing all app data and backup functionality

P.S.: OMG, seedvault does look so awesome, check the video: https://calyxinstitute.org/projects/seedvault-encrypted-backup-for-android WANT

1 Like

As the second /e/ build for the Fairphone 3 is out, I took the opportunity to check whether my theoretical backup and restore procedure with an unlocked bootloader works with /e/ in practice, too. (It did work with the stock Fairphone OS, but better safe than sorry.)

  • Made sure I kept the install file for the initial 20200428 build.
  • Made a copy of the whole Internal Storage (because).
  • Made a TWRP backup of my installation of the 20200428 build, including the data partition.
  • Updated /e/ successfully to the 20200514 build.

Had a look which slot was active (Fairphone 3 is an A/B device), just to be sure to only mess up one slot if in doubt :slight_smile: .

  • Installed the /e/ 20200428 build to the same slot where the 20200514 build was installed before, including wiping the data partition according to the install instructions.
  • Booted /e/ and set up the screen lock (= the decryption method) the same way it was before.
  • Restored the data partition with TWRP.
  • Copied the whole Internal Storage back to the phone.

This worked, the 20200428 build was back with all my stuff as if nothing happened.
The only cleanup left to do was to set my own custom ringtone again.
The ringtone gets set back to a fallback generic one by the OS because the OS is up and running earlier than when my custom ringtone comes back later with the Internal Storage copy.

  • Updated successfully to the 20200514 build again, so this restore didn’t break OTA updates.

(If somebody finds out how to simply restore everything including the OS out of a TWRP backup, please do tell. I ran into a bootloop trying this, just as I did with the stock OS.)

4 Likes

Good to hear that this works! So before trying stuff or updating the OS, with an unlocked bootloader, with the FP3 we can do it just like with any other phone and custom ROM before - apart from needing a laptop to boot TWRP.

Just to be clear: What I wanted to discuss here ultimately goes further - a comprehensive backup solution that doesn’t need you to turn off the device, is independet from OS version and device type as far as possible, can be automated, doens’t need root and/or an unlocked bootloader,…

I will have to track back from my general conviction to run an unlocked bootloader, there’s a legitimate concern about temporary access to the phone with malicious intent …

(Source)

… while I’m still pretty certain the data would be safe if the phone simply got lost or stolen, but we’ll have to see, it seems I didn’t drill down on this enough. Sorry.

2 Likes

Thanks for the update! That’s bad, but still… Running an OS without a backup solution is not an alternative.