Copying data from Android mobile phone to PC with Linux

This time I’ve decided to make backup of data from my Android-based mobile phone and copy them to my Linux box. I wanted to do it without exposing things to a cloud (for sake of paranoid security). Data must have been copied directly to my PC:

  1. photos
  2. contact book – with ability to restore on another Android-based mobile
  3. SMS/MMS messages
  4. call registry
  5. calendar entries – with ability to restore on another Android-based mobile
  6. notes – with ability to restore on another Android-based mobile

In this case the version of Android was 5.1.1 (Samsung Galaxy Core Prime) and the PC was running under Linux Mint 19.3.

Ad.1. Photos

This was pretty simple. You can connect an Android-based mobile to a PC using a USB cable and modern Linux will handle it without any extra care so you can just copy JPEG files with photos. I’ve noticed 2 issues:
– When connecting to USB 3.0 it didn’t work – just try another USB socket in your computer.
– There are 2 modes Android-based mobiles can expose itself to a computer by USB interface, only one of them was correct (“multimedia device”).

Ad.2. Contact book

Step 1: On the mobile phone go to Contacts application, tap on “3 dots” symbol, then select “Settings”, then select “Contacts” and then “Import/Export contacts”. Then you select something like “Export to device memory”. The popup will appear showing you a path to a the file (VCF – vCard format) that will be created with all contacts’ data. Select OK to proceed.

Step 2: Connect the mobile to the PC by USB cable and copy the VCF file to your computer, just like with photos.

Ad.3. messages & Ad.4. call registry

Step 1: Install an application on the mobile phone: “SMS Backup & Restore” by SyncTech Pty Ltd. I used version 10.08.001.

Step 2: Open this application and select “Your phone” (PL: “Zapisz kopię lokalną”) as backup target. Then return to the main screen and select creating a backup, then select both messages and calls. On this screen the application will show names of 2 XML files that will be created: one with messages and one with call registry. Then confirm creating a backup.

Step 3: Connect the mobile to the PC by USB cable, find these 2 files and copy them to your computer.

Ad.5. Calendar entries

Here I refer to calendar data maintained by the default Samsung calendar application (PL: “S Terminarz”, EN: “S Planner”) which is totally missing any import/export functionality.

Step 1: Install an application on the mobile phone: “Calendar Import – Export (ics)” by Sufficiently Secure.

Step 2: Open the application. On the first screen you need to select “a calendar” to work with. In my case the interesting calendar was not the one selected by default but the other one – its name consisted of my e-mail address that I used on this mobile to log into Google Play. After selecting the correct calendar the screen shows number of events present. As I had some calendar entries this was showing non-zero number – good sign! Then press “EXPORT” button on the bottom of the screen. The application will ask for the filename to be used – just give selfexplaining name without extension and press “OK”.

Step 3: Connect the mobile to the PC by USB cable and find the file. It will have ICS extension. Then just copy it to your computer.

You can use GNOME Evolution program under Linux to import ICS files and then view calendar entries.

BTW: This Android application “Calendar Import – Export (ics)” has the “import” function as well so it shouls be (in theory) possible to restore calendar entries on another Android mobile.

Ad.6. Notes

Here things are getting pretty complex – see this. Of course the built-in Samsung application for notes does not support any sharing or export functionality.
TODO. Do you know any hints? Please share…

About krzysztoftomaszewski

I've got M.Sc. in software engineering. I graduated in 2005 at Institute of Computer Science, Warsaw University of Technology, Faculty of Electronics and Information Technology. I'm working on computer software design and engineering continuously since 2004.
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