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How to use an Android device to back up Linux files

Got some important files on your Linux desktop or laptop you need to back up? Don’t have a flash drive or external hard drive but do have an Android phone? As it turns out, it is possible to use your Android device to back up Linux files. Here’s how it works!

Method 1 – Deja Dup

An incredibly easy way that you can back up any file or folder from a Linux desktop or laptop to an Android phone is by using Deja Dup, the backup utility for Ubuntu (as well as many other prominent distributions).

To start the backup process, connect your Android device over USB to your Linux PC. After that, you must put it into Camera mode. Go to the notification center on your device, look for the notification that says Android is connected over USB, and tap it to reveal options. Then, select the “Camera” option.

Note: if you cannot place your Android device into Camera mode, consider using Method 2 instead, as Deja Dup will only work with this type of connection.

Once your Android device is connected over USB in Camera mode, follow the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to back up your data.

Step 1: Open up the Linux file manager and look for your Android device on the side. Double-click on it to mount it to the system.

Step 2:  Next, use the Linux file manager to create a folder in your home directory called “Backup files.” This folder is necessary, as Android device memory is small compared to a USB hard drive. It will help you control the size of the data being backed up.

Step 3: Using the Linux file manager, copy all data you wish to back up to your Android device to the “Backup files” folder. Keep in mind that the data in this directory must be smaller than the size of the device, or the backup will fail. For best results, try making your backup around 2-5 GBs in size.

Step 4: Close any open Linux file manager windows, but do not unmount the Android device.

Step 5: Open up the Deja Dup app on your Linux PC by pressing Win on the keyboard, typing “Deja Dup” and launching the app that says “Backups.”

Don’t have the app on your system? Install the Deja Dup application on your Linux PC by following this guide.

Step 6: Inside the Deja Dup app, locate the “Folders to save” option in the sidebar on the left, and click on it with the mouse. From there, click on the plus sign to bring up the open-file browser.

In the open-file browser, locate the “Backup files” folder you created to hold the data to back up to the Android device and click the “Add” button to tell Deja Dup to use it.

Step 7: Find the “Storage location” button on the sidebar on the left, and click on it with the mouse. Then, find the “Storage location” drop-down menu and change it from the default option to “Local Folder.” Then, click on “Choose Folder..” to launch the open-file browser.

In the open-file browser, look for a Camera icon in the sidebar. Click on it with the mouse to access your Android device’s file system via Camera mode.

Step 8: While browsing the Android device’s file system via Camera mode, locate the folder “DCIM” and click on it with the mouse.

Step 9: Inside of the “DCIM” directory, click the “new folder” button at the top right to create a new folder. Name it “linux-backups.”

Step 10: Select the newly-created “linux-backups” directory in the open-file browser, and click the “OK” button to use it to store your backups with Deja Dup.

Step 11: Find the “Overview” section in the sidebar in Deja Dup, and click on it. Then, select the “Back Up Now” button to begin the backup process.

When the backup is complete, you will see a message appear on the screen.

Restoring the backup

Connect your Android device over USB to the Linux PC, put it into Camera mode. Then, open up Deja Dup, and click the “Restore” button to restore your backup.

If the restoration does not work, you may need to re-add your Android device as a storage location. To do that, follow steps 7-10 in the Deja Dup backup guide above.

Method 2 – the Linux file manager

The Deja Dup method is quite useful; however, it does not work for everyone, especially if your Android device cannot go into “Camera mode.” For this reason, we’ll show you how to back up files using just the Linux file manager.

To start the backup process, plug in your Android device over USB. Then, access the device and tap on the “USB connected” notification to access the USB options. Set your device to MTP mode. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

 

Step 1: Open up the Linux file manager and mount your Android device by double-clicking on it under devices.

Step 2: When the Linux file manager mounts your Android device, look for “Internal Storage” and double-click on it.

Note: If you prefer to store files on an SD card, click on “SD Card.”

Step 3: Inside of “Internal Storage,” you will see the contents of your Android device. From here, right-click and select “create a new folder.” Name this folder, “linux-backups.”

Step 4: Double-click on the “linux-backups” folder with the mouse to access it in the file manager. Then, drag all of the files from your Linux PC into the “linux-backups” folder to back up the data.

When you’ve finished backing up the files on your Linux PC, unplug the Android device.

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