Android Backups

Android Backups

Android provides users with an auto-backup feature. The backups usually include copies of data and settings for all installed apps. Given its diverse ecosystem, Android supports many backup options:

  • Stock Android has built-in USB backup facilities. When USB debugging is enabled, you can use the adb backup command to create full data backups and backups of an app's data directory.

  • Google provides a "Back Up My Data" feature that backs up all app data to Google's servers.

  • Two Backup APIs are available to app developers:

    • Key/Value Backup (Backup API or Android Backup Service) uploads to the Android Backup Service cloud.

    • Auto Backup for Apps: With Android 6.0 (API level 23) and above, Google added the "Auto Backup for Apps feature". This feature automatically syncs at most 25MB of app data with the user's Google Drive account.

  • OEMs may provide additional options. For example, HTC devices have a "HTC Backup" option that performs daily backups to the cloud when activated.

Apps must carefully ensure that sensitive user data doesn't end within these backups as this may allow an attacker to extract it.