Manual backup and restore

There are several scenarios where you might want to manually backup and restore your N900. Using manual methods (as opposed to using osso-backup) is convenient for advanced users (to have more control over their phone), scheduling backups with fcron and the like, starting from scratch (if you want to wipe the phone and restore file-by-file) - because osso-backup can also backup problematic files.

This was discussed at [1] and [2].


[edit] Background

[edit] Connectivity

As the USB mass storage mode on the phone does not provide access to the root file system, some other way of transferring backups is required. Therefore, the first prerequisite is a working TCP/IP network between the phone and the target machine. Alternatively, a microSD card could be used.

[edit] Power

We do not want our backups to drain the phone's battery, so we should only consider running the backup if we are connected to external power.

[edit] Automation

Once set up, the backups should happen automatically without intervention from the user, BUT complain loudly if they fail. This implies a script that we can schedule from cron that should perform whatever combination of tests and operations we may need. It also implies key-based access to our backup host.

[edit] Snapshots

At any given time we want a decent ability to backtrack, which means storing regular snapshots using something like rdiff-backup or rsnapshot.

So, what we've got so far is that we want to run a script on the N900 that tests whether we have external power (or dies), then tries to get a wireless connection to the backup server (or dies), then performs an incremental backup of the entire phone.

[edit] Backup methods

[edit] Copying

This script backs up contacts (database and also exports them with osso-addressbook-backup for safety), conversations, calendar, bookmarks, repository and packages list to external memory card's directory Backup which then contains subdirectories named with date and time when the backup was performed. The path is also definable. For example: "Memory_card/Backup/2010-03-03_00-00". It also displays notification during backup, because it was made to be used with fcron.

[edit] Script

path=/media/mmc1/Backup/`date +"%F_%H-%M"` dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.freedesktop.Notifications /org/freedesktop/Notifications org.freedesktop.Notifications.SystemNoteInfoprint string:"Making backup..."
mkdir -p "$path"/home/user/.bookmarks
mkdir    "$path"/home/user/.calendar
mkdir    "$path"/home/user/.osso-abook
mkdir    "$path"/home/user/.osso-abook-backup
mkdir    "$path"/home/user/MyDocs
mkdir -p "$path"/var/lib/hildon-application-manager
cp    /home/user/.bookmarks/MyBookmarks.xml*                "$path"/home/user/.bookmarks
cp    /home/user/.calendar/calendardb                       "$path"/home/user/.calendar
cp -r /home/user/.osso-abook/db                             "$path"/home/user/.osso-abook
cp -r /home/user/.osso-abook-backup/db                      "$path"/home/user/.osso-abook-backup
cp -r /home/user/.rtcom-eventlogger                         "$path"/home/user
cp -r /home/user/MyDocs/.documents                          "$path"/home/user/MyDocs
cp    /var/lib/hildon-application-manager/catalogues*       "$path"/var/lib/hildon-application-manager
cp    /var/lib/hildon-application-manager/packages.backup   "$path"/var/lib/hildon-application-manager
echo "osso-addressbook-backup -e "$path"/osso-addressbook-backup" | su - user dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.freedesktop.Notifications /org/freedesktop/Notifications org.freedesktop.Notifications.SystemNoteInfoprint string:"Backup created"

[edit] osso-backup (what is backed up by it)

osso-backup is the default Backup application on the phone. You can use it for "manual" backup, because it produces standard .zip compressed files which can be opened on any system. The list of files that osso-backup backs up can be obtained by making a backup with it and opening these zip files (the list is too long for this wiki page).

[edit] osso-addressbook-backup

It is an executable which exports (or imports) address book to a vCard v3.0 format. It is used by osso-backup, but it can also be manually executed which is great for making a backup. You have to execute it as user "user".

osso-addressbook-backup -e /path/file

And if you're executing it from a root terminal:

echo "osso-addressbook-backup -e /path/file" | su - user

[edit] rsync

rsync is standard Linux/Unix file and directory synchronization tool. It is in extras repository. An example backup script is shown here:

[edit] Script

if [ `whoami` != "root" ]; then
 echo "Please run as root to preserve file ownership."
 exit 1
dpkg -l > /root/dpkg.txt
dpkg --get-selections  > /root/dpkg-selections.txt
gconftool-2 -R /system/osso/connectivity/IAP > /root/iap.txt
rsync   -avz                    \
        --numeric-ids           \
        --exclude=/dev          \
        --exclude=/media        \
        --exclude=/mnt/initfs   \
        --exclude=/proc         \
        --exclude=/sys          \
        /                       \

Change to the IP/hostname of your computer and the target directory to whatever suits you. Don't forget to make the script executable and it must be run as root of course.

The dpkg -l command makes a list of installed packages, dpkg --get-selections output can be passed directly to --set-selections to install/uninstall packages as they were on the device.

Finally, gconftool-2 lists all internet access points (Wi-Fi and GPRS), so you can copypaste details back later.

[edit] Automatic/periodic/scheduled backups

Maemo currently does not provide an option to schedule backups nor does the osso-backup have interface to be run from command line and thus be scheduled. So the backup scripts needs to be written manually. You get them here (or you write your own), but to schedule them periodically you need fcron or similar. The scheduling part is covered in detail on fcron wiki page. With combining these two wiki pages you can have fully working automatic backups.

[edit] Wipe methods

Wiping the device clean is achieved with reflashing. This is covered in the updating the firmware article and similar.

[edit] Restore methods

Restoring is the hardest part in this process and you need to have a little knowledge about your system, otherwise backup and restore rather with osso-backup. It is a good choice to perform a full backup after a successful setup/reflash/restore.

Restoring entries below were made by the author of the rsync backup script, but they are very similar to any restoring process. Also don't forget that the applications which use the files you are restoring need to be closed/stopped/killed.

[edit] Contacts

You need to create a dummy entry before restoring contacts. Run the contacts application first and create a contact, anything will do. Then exit the contacts application and restore the files in /home/user/.osso-abook/db and /home/user/.osso-abook-backup/db. The contacts will be restored after rebooting the device.

[edit] Bookmarks

Close the browser first, then simply copy the files from your archive to the phone to /home/user/.bookmarks. The bookmarks should appear immediately.

The bookmarks are saved in MyBookmarks.xml file, so this is the one that you really need, other files are thumbnails and the like.

[edit] Calendar

The calendar entries are in the file /home/user/.calendar/calendardb. A restart is required.

[edit] Conversations

The sqlite database containing SMS data is located at /home/user/.rtcom-eventlogger/*. Make sure rtcom-messaging-ui is closed. Conversations can be accessed as soon as the folder is restored.

[edit] Repository and packages list

These are located in /var/lib/hildon-application-manager, files catalogues.backup, catalogues2.backup and packages.backup. These can't be just copied back, because osso-backup uses them in its own way (asks which applications should be reinstalled), but you can use them as list of what you had installed.

[edit] IM/Chat/SIP accounts

These accounts are stored in /var/lib/gconf/apps/telepathy/mc/accounts. It's probably a good idea to set your presence to "off" before trying to restore.

[edit] E-mail (Modest)

Restoring /home/users/.modest and /var/lib/gconf/apps/modest doesn't work properly. I had to create the email server settings, but at least the old email did come back. Actually, I think it might have worked, but the mailbox didn't appear. I discovered that the old mailboxes were there when I looked for them in Menu->View and chose one of the mailboxes.

The rabbit hole goes deeper. I didn't notice there was a problem after restoring, as I use a special email address for my tablet and it didn't get any email for a while, so I was quite happy accessing my recovered emails. When a new email arrived, it killed modest, and I was unable to restart it - the UI would show up briefly before modest died. The only way I could make modest run without crashing was to rename /home/user/.modest to /home/user/

[edit] RSS Feeds

Close RSS application and copy files to /home/user/.osso_rss_feed_reader.

[edit] Wi-Fi and GPRS access points

You'll have to manually re-enter them, but you can copypaste details from the file created with rsync backup script (iap.txt).

[edit] Other

[edit] gPodder

Close gPodder and copy its config directory to /home/user/.config/gpodder.

[edit] OpenVPN Applet

If you use the OpenVPN Applet the configuration files are stored in /etc/openvpn. After you copy them be sure to have them owned by user "root", group "root", and protected so that user (root) has rw privileges, and no one else has anything.