[HOWTO] Backup and Restore Data on Android Devices

Trying to backup my FP3 data I wanted to flash TWRP temporarily.
Anything went fine until this command:

fastboot boot twrp.img
creating boot image...
creating boot image - 16523264 bytes
downloading 'boot.img'...
OKAY [  0.410s]
FAILED (remote: unlock device to use this command)
finished. total time: 0.583s

So far I have no idea how to unlock it without breaking anything.

The only options on the FP3 are

  • START (which I used also to no avail)
  • Restart bootloader
  • Recovery mode
  • Power off

How can I temporarily boot TWRP?

Temporary TWRP start

usb debugging on
- adb devices
- adb reboot bootloader or (Volume Up + Power Key. FAIRPHONE3 PK+V UP) boot in (fastboot menue)

fastboot menue -starts

fastboot boot twrp.img … boot in TWRP

(remote: unlock device to use this command) !!!
sorry I overlooked it.

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For my FP3 it is said that unlocking may disrupt data - this is the reason I’d like to make a backup using TWRP in temporary mode.
So far I am hindered to do that out of reasons I do not understand.
Kind of a vicious circle, as I want to avoid to brick it…

You can’t boot TWRP with a locked bootloader, as this would defeat the purpose of the locked bootloader.

It’s not about TWRP especially. With a locked bootloader anybody having your phone in hand can not boot whatever malicious stuff.

The action of unlocking the bootloader will wipe your data for security reasons.


Oh, I see now.
To reach a state in which I can backup my data I have to wipe it out first.
This seems kinda semi-nice.

On my desktop I have system & data encrypted. So, if anyone accesses the computer, still the passphrase is needed to get hold of any data.
A mandatory wiping out may be useful in case you have a recent backup.

As long as you don’t, I have to cite myself:

So far there is not much on the phone to store away since I have it only three months now, just the present state of contacts, some msgs and logs.

As installing of TWRP wipes any data anyway I might

  • unlock the bootloader
  • install it to the disc
  • relock the bootloader (?)
  • restore saved data
  • go on with nandroid

Is that a fair plan?

BTW, why doesn’t come it with TWRP in the first place?

Because TWRP is a separate project, might not have support for the same devices as /e/OS and is outside of direct control of /e/OS developers in case something would need fixing. I guess.

Depends on whether /e/OS even boots with TWRP installed (= altered boot partition) after locking the bootloader … and on whether you can get TWRP retained through OS updates via rooting with Magisk, as otherwise /e/OS updates will restore the boot partition to the intended state including the /e/OS recovery.

I don’t have answers to this on hand immediately, but a forum search should bring them up.

Personally I’m running an unlocked bootloader (after careful risk assessment regarding my situation), and just boot TWRP temporarily when I want to use it.

Not if you planned for this from the start.
But in hindsight you are right.


You may be able to break out of your vicious circle using SeedVault started from 'adb, as described earlier in this thread


@AnotherElk: No, I didn’t plan so far, just checked the opportunities.
I had a FP2 a few years ago that was rooted and had TWRP running. As things change very fast these days and forum entries sometimes vary in relevance and reliability, I am a little lost.
I think I wait on the OS-update that is quite overdue.

If this doesn’t solve it, I should think about rooting the thing and putting TWRP and a working OS on it.

@petefoth: As it is getting worse by the hour, I’m afraid that’s impossible.
Meanwhile I do not get no Internet connection anymore, neither through LTE nor WLAN. Even flight mode on/off doesn’t change anything.
So, no installing, no testing.

Worse: My corona contact tracing app - one of my main reasons for using a “smartphone” - doesn’t work anymore, for regardless of Bluetooth working, it needs DNS to check for threat-updates through synchronising with the database.

I keep thinking that my old brick (a waterproof and shock-resistant Hammer 3+ with some kind of OpenBSD on it) was in fact smarter than the FP3 on /e, for it got DNS anytime, provided a hotspot and did not talk to strangers; but no chance for apps…

If i have an old.android from which i want to retain certain personal data via TWRP (e.g. brave browser instances that do not copy over without getting deep inside the phone) before i discontinue using it, but my new phone is not of the same brand/model, then have you suggestions for which particular folders are eapecially relevant or IRrelevant?
Thank you

@petefoth started an enlightening conversation coverig this very topic, for which i have gone back to heart-thank all participants
Thank you!

I don’t understand, why SeedVault is not in /e/, because it is in Lineage already included. And as far as I know, this is the base for /e/

That doesn’t make 100% of LineageOS a part of /e/OS. You can take something as a base and change it so that things being in the base aren’t there anymore or things working for the base don’t work anymore.
/e/OS is based on LineageOS, but it isn’t simply LineageOS + some goodies … https://doc.e.foundation/what-s-e, https://e.foundation/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/e-state-of-degooglisation.pdf.

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Actually it is in /e/, but it’s not yet visible in the phone UI. This thread describes how you can use it via `adb’ on a connected computer

Also, if you have access to a linux computer, then this post suggests a possible alternative backup solution


In /e/OS v1.0 R (on Teracube) I see Seedvault is present. Is it functional in this case?

Haven’t tried it yet. Tried to use it once or twice on another phone and ROM. Didn’t care for its limitations regarding restoration but maybe I’ll take another look.

EDIT: I tried to crop this pic but the Gallery app essentially gets stuck processing. That’s not cool.

I am in the process of moving my devices away from /e/OS to LineageOS for microG. As part of this process I did quite a lot of work backing up my user-installed apps and my setting, then restoring / migrating them to new ROMs and to different devices. In fact, I didn’t need the backups: once I had the new ROMs built correctly, I was able to successfully ‘dirty flash’ them over my existing custom /e/OS builds. But I tried anyway, to get some up-to-date experience of which solutions work best.


  1. TWRP backup of data partition
    • All user installed apps, with all their data. Ignores the ‘Backup not allowed’ flag
    • ‘All or nothing’ not possible to restore individual apps
    • Successfully restored / migrated: to a new ROM on same device, to different devices (by copying the backup from one device to another)
  2. Android Backup and Restore Tools (ABRT)
    • Most apps and most of their data backed up. Ignores the ‘Backup not allowed’ flag
    • Some apps lose their data, particularly those that store acount data in Account Manager. For these apps, you will need to re-enter account details in the app, or create new accounts in Account Manager
    • Some apps keep stopping after restore / migrate. Can be fixed by clearing storage. Affected apps for me are: OS Maps, Element
    • Can restore specific apps, without affecting other apps
  3. SeedVault
    • Respects the ‘Backup not allowed’ flag, so some apps will not be backed up at all, or will be backed up but with no data. You will need to install them, and set them up from scratch. These include BBC Sounds, News, Sport & Weather, Ebay, Element, WhatsApp, Garmin Connect, Twidere, Messenger, Magic Earth, OpenKeychain, Telegram FOSS
    • Does not backup settings for some apps (e.g. Lawnchair)
    • Some apps which claim to have been restored, don’t actually start (BRS Golf, XDA Forums)


  • If it works for your use case, then TWRP backup / restore of data partition is the most effective at duplicating your current setup on your new ROM or your new device. (In this case, there’s a good chance that ‘dirty flashing’ will also work, and the backup won’t be needed. Worth doing though, just in case :slight_smile:)
  • If you have a computer (or a VM) running Linux, and your device / ROM supports rooted debugging (i.e. it’s not a stable /e/OS build), then ABRT is nearly as good. It has the advantage of working with individual apps rather than with the entire data partition
  • SeedVault is really limited, and only fit for use if no other alternative exists for your ROM / device. After restoring / migrating, you will need to test the apps that claim to have been backed up, an reinstall any that don’t actually work

Thanks for this complete review ! :slight_smile:

AFAIK installing TWRP on the phone does wipe all data.
How did you solve that?

It hasn’t been pointed out clearly enough, but it turns out that you can boot TWRP with fastboot, but you shouldn’t install it on devices like FP3.

Installing TWRP doesn’t wipe user data.
Unlocking the bootloader does, if you need to unlock it to install TWRP, which isn’t necessarily the case (if the bootloader already is left unlocked or can’t be locked).

In general, just refer and stick to the documentation at twrp.me for a specific device to know the TWRP proceedings on this device.

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So, just booting TWRP into fastboot mode on my FP3 gives the opportunity to backup without installing, if I understand the advice here.
Is that correct?