Last Updated: April 17th, 2014

Though there are a plethora of options for backing up your apps and data if you have root access to your device, for those without Superuser privileges, you basically have one option - the Android backup service. Even the backup apps like Helium that don't technically require root are simply front-ends for the backup service. The problems with this part of Android are well-known, extensive and, quite honestly, embarrassing. As if there aren't enough things to complain about with it already, it appears that some folks are having problems restoring encrypted (i.e. password-protected) backups made using this feature last-resort functionality.



The symptoms of this bug are pretty cut and dry. Generally, if you create a backup using ADB, and encrypt it with a password, you may find yourself unable to restore it down the road. In my own testing on a Sony Z Ultra GPE and a Nexus 10, I was unable to get the backups to work if they had a password attached. Normally, a bug with so few complaints would be assumed to not be affecting a lot of people. In this case, however, it's probably a safe assumption that the reason so few have complained about it is because very few people are actually using Android's backup service in the first place.


At this time, we aren't entirely sure what's causing this issue, but I'd speculate that it could be a bug in the KitKat crypto manager, similar to the data encryption bug in Android build KRT16O that resulted in it being pulled very quickly and replaced with KRT16S.


Though there are no simple workarounds at this stage, some users have reported success using a tool called adbextractor to unpack the archive, then re-pack it without a password. After that, doing a normal "adb restore" from the command prompt should work.


The Android backup service needs a lot of work. Bugs like this go a long way toward demonstrating that. Perhaps one day, Google will give this thing the attention it desperately needs. Until then, at least this particular bug has been marked as "FutureRelease". Maybe that means that you'll soon be able to restore encrypted backups again. That's something, right?

Issue #62432

Shawn De Cesari
Shawn is a web developer by day and XDA's resident archivist for Nexus and Google Play Edition device OTA updates by night. When not immersing himself in code or Android, he can be found hunting down antique signs, taking road trips, listening to music, or playing video games. His daily drivers are a Nexus 6 and an iPhone 6 Plus.
  • David Hacker

    I wouldn't consider this a last resort, because any in device backup scenario leaves the archive on the sdcard which is accessible by any app that wants to snoop through your data. Nandroids are a very huge security hole.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

      Root and custom recovery in and of itself is a huge security hole. If you're making Nandroids in the first place, security is clearly not your top priority.

  • dan

    I am dreaming of the day when Google allows FULL device backup using Drive. Only then we would be able to power a new device and all the apps/settings/messages/data are copied and arranged exactly the way they were backed up on the older one.
    Apple already has that.

    • RamitSuri

      Shouldn't it be possible for Google to include something like Helium App Backup which automatically backs up app data to Google Drive ? Helium is able to do this without root, should be easy to have it built in the system.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Shawn De Cesari

        Without root, Helium is nothing but a front end for adb backup.

      • bpear96

        Also Helium requires the device to be connected to PC when backing up without root. Because like Shawn said its just a front end for ADB backup (a nice one at that)

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Yeah, I'd really like that too, iCloud backup system is absolutely superb in every way possible.
      It's a point in the ass when if I reflash stock image with full wipe, then I have to set everything up again, like

      - settings (checking/checking off various options like WiFi scanning or NFC or..)
      - home screen setup (it shouldn't really be that hard to store a few KBs of launcher data when Google Now Launcher could do it offline)
      - app data (even though there is such an option in the sync menu, it seems to only serve as a trigger for the Play Store to download the apps you had before you wiped the device, but it should store all the logins and passwords too, I hate having to logininto Play Games and Facebook in the games for example)
      - call logs

      Messages are already being backed up to the cloud via Hangouts, I was really impressed by this when there was absolutely NO indication that the app could do it and neither there is a toggle anywhere to actually turn that on/off

  • Gaurav Arora

    I'm sure you guys have had busy last 24 hours, here have some cookies and milk :3

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Uh, I'm sorry but what is the point of encrypting the ADB backups of YOUR device that you probably store on YOUR computer (and probably in YOUR room/flat)?

    It's not like that your friends, relatives or burglars are that tech savvy to know what ADB is

    • Gary Wilkinson

      What if you're Barack Obama

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        Then you are not using an Android device

        • fonseca898

          The white house is currently testing LG and Samsung devices as replacements for Blackberry.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Oh, are they?

            I thought all the big people (politicians and celebrities) were still hot on iPhones