Complete Android backup and restore without root (Helium) (Ubuntu)


This needs to be done only once.

Helium Backup allows to backup nearly all data of your Android Smartphone. To make this possible without rooting the smartphone, Helium uses the Android Debug Bridge (adb). The adb connects to your smartphone from a PC Desktop or Notebook.

Original Helium installation instructions:

Setup Smartphone

Setup on PC Desktop or Notebook

You need a working installation of Android Debug Bridge (adb)

I personally use Ubuntu Linux, refer to these instructions for other operating systems:

For some commands you need to open a terminal.

Ubuntu Linux (16.04, 18.04)

  • Install adb:
  • Create a "bin" folder in your home directory if you don't have one already
    • mkdir ~/bin
  • Create the helium run script:
    • gedit ~/bin/
    • Copy and paste the following content:
      • #!/bin/bash
        pkg=$(adb shell pm path com.koushikdutta.backup)
        # apparently pm path appends a carriage return which screws
        # up the class name in dalvikvm invocation
        pkg=$(echo $pkg | cut -d : -f 2 | sed s/\\r//g)
        echo $pkg
        adb shell << EOF
        CLASSPATH=$pkg app_process /system/bin com.koushikdutta.shellproxy.ShellRunner2 $@ &
    • Save and exit the editor
    • chmod 700 ~/bin/
  • Connect your smartphone via usb and check adb connection as described in the adb installation guide.
  • Note: the original helium script can be found here:

Perform Backup

Connect Smartphone via USB to PC and select file/data access mode.

On the phone

  • Start "Helium Backup" app

Start Helium adb script on PC

  • sudo ~/bin/

On the phone:

  • Select apps you want to backup or select all apps
  • Uncheck "only app data" (so the apps itself are also backuped when possible)
  • Save preferable to external SD-card, otherwise to internal storage
  • !!! Copy the backup files to your PC !!! Backup files are stored on your smartphone in directory /carbon/

Perform Restore

To restore your data on a different phone you have to copy the /carbon directory from above to the new device.
You can connect both phones via usb to your PC and copy the files, or you could use an SD card reader.
The only important thing is, that the backup data is available on your second phone in /carbon no matter if it's on internal storage or the sd card.

  • Make /carbon directory with backup data available on your second phone.
  • Hint: Install the apps you want to restore first from your app store. It works better that way.
  • Launch the Helium app
  • The steps are the same as above in section "Perform Backup", except you choose "Restore" in the Helium app and select the apps you want to restore.

List of apps where backup is not allowed

  • AirKey
  • K-9 Mail
  • NextcloudPasswords
  • PrivacyBrowser
  • WienMobil
  • YalpStore