Backup And Restore Your Android Phone With ADB (And rsync)

Based on my previous scripts and inspired by two blog posts that I stumbled upon I tackled the “backup all my apps, settings and data” problem for my Android devices again. The “new” solutions both use rsync  instead of adb pull  for file transfers. They both use ADB to start a rsync daemon on the device, forward its ports to localhost and run rsync against it from your host.

Simon’s solution assumes your phone has rsync already (e.g. because you run CyanogenMod) and can become root via adb root . It clones all files from the phone (minus /dev , /sys , /proc  etc.). He also configures udev to start the backup automatically when the phone is plugged in.

pts solves the setup without necessarily becoming root. He also has a way of providing a rsync binary to phones that don’t have any (e.g. when running OxygenOS). He also has a few tricks on how to debug the rsync daemon setup on the phone.

I’ve tried to combine both methods. My approach doesn’t require adb or rsync to be run as root. It’ll use the the system’s rsync when available or temporarily upload and use a backup one extracted from Cyanogen OS (for my OnePlus One). Android won’t allow you to  chmod +x a file uploaded to /sdcard , but in /data/local/tmp it works. 😀

The scripts will currently only backup and restore all of your  /sdcard directory. Assuming you’re also using something like Titanium Backup you’ll be able to backup and restore all your apps, settings and data. To reduce the amount of data to copy it uses rsync filters to exclude caches and other files that you definitely don’t want synced ( .DS_Store  files anyone?).

At the moment there’s one caveat: I had to disable restoring modification times (i.e. use --no-times ) because of an obnoxious error (they will be backuped fine, only restoring is the problem): 😒

mkstemp “…” (in root) failed: Operation not permitted (1)

Additionally if you’re on the paranoid side you can also build your own rsync for Android to use as the backup binary.

The code and a ton of documentation can be found on GitHub. Comments and suggestions are welcome. 😀

Build Rsync for Android Yourself

To build rsync for Android you’ll need to have the Android NDK installed already.

Then clone the rsync for android source (e.g. from CyanogenMod) …

… create the missing jni/  build file …

… and start the build with

You’ll find your self-build rsync in obj/local/*/rsync . 😀


After reading how CloudFlare handles their PKI and that LetsEncrypt will use it I wanted to give CFSSL a shot.

Reading the project’s documentation doesn’t really help in building your own CA, but searching the Internet I found Fernando Barillas’ blog explaining how to create your own root certificate and how to create intermediate certificates from this.

I took it a step further I wrote a script generating new certificates for several services with different intermediates and possibly different configurations (e.g. depending on your distro and services certain cyphers (e.g. using ECC) may not be supported).
I also streamlined generating service specific key, cert and chain files. 😀

Have a look at the full Gist or just the most interesting part:

You’ll still have to deploy them yourself.

Update 2016-10-04:
Fixed some issues with this Gist.

  • Fixed a bug where intermediate CA certificates weren’t marked as CAs any more
  • Updated the example CSRs and the script so it can now be run without errors

A Service Monitor built with Polymer

I tried to build a service monitor having the following features:

  • showing the reachability of HTTP servers
  • plotting the amount of messages in a specific RabbitMQ queue
  • plotting the amount of queues with specific prefixes
  • showing the status of RabbitMQ queues i.e. how many messages are in there? are there any consumers? are they hung?
  • showing the availability of certain Redis clients

Well, you can find the result on GitHub.
It uses two things I published before: polymer-flot and flot-sparklines. 😀

An example dashboard:

polymer-service-monitor screen shot

Making RabbitMQ Recover from (a)Mnesia

In the company I work for we’re using RabbitMQ to offload non-timecritical processing of tasks. To be able to recover in case RabbitMQ goes down our queues are durable and all our messages are marked as persistent. We generally have a very low number of messages in flight at any moment in time. There’s just one queue with a decent amount of them: the “failed messages” dump.

The Problem

It so happens that after a botched update to the most recent version of RabbitMQ (3.5.3 at the time) our admins had to nuke the server and install it from scratch. They had made a backup of RabbitMQ’s Mnesia database and I was tasked to recover the messages from it.
This is the story of how I did it.

Since our RabbitMQ was configured to persist all the messages this should be generally possible. Surely I wouldn’t be the first one to attempt this. 😐

Looking through the Internet it seems there’s no way of ex/importing a node’s configuration if it’s not running. I couldn’t find any documentation on how to import a Mnesia backup into a new node or extract data from it into a usable form. 😞

The Idea

My idea was to setup a virtual machine (running Debian Wheezy) with RabbitMQ and then to somehow make it read/recover and run the broken server’s database.

In the following you’ll see the following placeholders:

  • RABBITMQ_MNESIA_BASE will be /var/lib/rabbitmq/mnesia  on Debian (see RabbitMQ’S file locations)
  • BROKEN_NODENAME the $RABBITMQ_NODENAME of the broken server we have backups from
  • BROKEN_HOST the hostname of said server

One more thing before we start: if I say “fix permissions” below I mean

1st Try

My first try was to just copy the broken node’s Mnesia files to the VM’s $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR failed. The files contained node names that RabbitMQ tried to reach but were unreachable from the VM.

So I tried to be a little bit more picky on what I copied.

First I had to reset $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR by deleting it and have RabbitMQ recreate it. (I needed to do this way too many times 😭)

Stopping RabbitMQ I tried to feed it the broken server’s data in piecemeal fashion. This time I only copied the rabbit_*.[DCD,DCL]  and restarted RabbitMQ.

RabbitMQ Management Interface lists all the queues, but the node it thinks they're on is "down"
RabbitMQ’s management interface lists all the queues, but it thinks the node they’re on is “down”

Looking at the web management interface there were all the queues we were missing, but they were “down” and clicking on them told you

The object you clicked on was not found; it may have been deleted on the server.

Copying any more data didn’t solve the issue. So this was a dead end. 😫

2nd Try

So I thought why doesn’t the RabbitMQ in the VM pretend to be the exact same node as on the broken server?

So I created a /etc/rabbitmq/rabbitmq-env.conf  with NODENAME=$BROKEN_NODENAME  in there.

I copied the backup to $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR (now with the new node name) and fixed the permissions.

Now starting RabbitMQ failed with

I edited /etc/hosts  to add $BROKEN_HOST to the list of names that resolve to

Now restarting RabbitMQ failed with yet another error:

Now what? Why don’t I try to give it the Mnesia files piece by piece again?

  • Stop RabbitMQ
  • Copy rabbit_*  files in again and fix their permissions
  • Start RabbitMQ

All our queues were back and all their configuration seemed OK as well. But we still didn’t have our messages back yet.

RabbitMQ Data Recovery Screen Shot 2 - Node Up, Queues Empty
The queues have been restored, but they have no messages in them


So I tried to copy more and more files over from the backup repeating the above steps. I finally reached my goal after copying rabbit_* , msg_store_* , queues  and recovery.dets. Fixing their permissions and starting RabbitMQ it had all the queues restored with all the messages in them. 😂

RabbitMQ Data Recovery Screen Shot 3 - Messages Restored
Queues and messages restored

Now I could use ordinary methods to extract all the messages. Dumping all the messages and examining them they looked OK. Publishing the recovered messages to the new server I was pretty euphoric. 😁