Backup Strategies?

After too long on Android (Graphene OS), partly due to the Jolla uncertainty, I’m coming back to Sailfish OS again.

I’m curious what kind of backup strategies people are using to easily switch from one to the other SFOS phone.

I know there’s the Backup that comes with SFOS itself which I’ve found to be unreliable in the past. I also know there’s MyBackup which I’ve never used. What are people’s experiences with that? (@slava ? :wink:)


I’m not sure you can call it much of a strategy but I avoid using cloud services to store anything on.

I run caldav and carddav and email from my webhost which syncs most of what you need to make the phone work.
Aside from that, I move any camera images over USB to my laptop, which then has file history and so on …

My needs from my phone are very modest.

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Not a backup strategy at all, but I always make sure to store important information redundantly. For me, a self-hosted Nextcloud instance takes care of calendar, contacts, notes, tasks, photos, and files in general.
When switching from one phone to another, I would have to install and configure all apps and accounts manually. Never tried Sailfish Backup.

Beside caldav/cardav and using rclone to sync pics to the same nextcloud instance, I make backups of;

.cache ( selections like musicex for album cover art).

I also dump all my backups to a local raid store. Finally, I always have two virtually identical phones which has more to do with developing, but, since it irks me, I generally have the same content on both ‘daily driver’ and development phone.

My experience is good AFAIK SFOS Backup doesn’t support restore over different model but I don’t remember the exact issue. There is also the user name transition (nemo → defaultuser) but there is an easy workaround.

I created a simple rsync script on RPi to sync daily from my phone (and PC). But that is more a data solution than settings backup/restore.

Usually if your previously username was nemo and now is defaultuser.

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It was my only disappointment with SFOS. It’s their code, their backup system, they should have foreseen that people were going to upgrade to new devices using previous backups.

At a minimum the system should gracefully fail with a message “it seems you are trying to upgrade from an incompatible version” rather than what it did, which is hanging in the middle of the process, leaving the user confused and making a bad name of SFOS. By “bad name”, I mean a year later people write the backups are unreliable. Which is not the case, the backups work superb, the binary format is preserved even when skipping versions, yet it fails on something apparently simple to detect, and not all users will figure out the right keywords to find a solution on the net.

When it happened to me I did not think first thing to look on the forum because I expected the binary import to fail for one or more of several reasons: different phone model, skipping system versions, moving from the free to the paid version. I accepted my fate, then took some hours to solve it by myself (understanding which files were there, figuring out how to dump the messages and calls from the database on the old phone and how to import them on the new one) – I told myself I’m lucky the old phone still works, otherwise I would have only useless backups, and my message history would be lost.

About when I was finished I finally understood the issue was only a change in the user name and my backup had been safe the entire time. It did not make me very happy, though it gave me opportunity to learn a few things about the SFOS data structure.


It’s good to hear Sailfish’s backup actually works well. I was indeed under the impression it was and is flaky.

It’s nice that it works, but could someone with knowledge tell me how it works? I don’t see anything like restore backup in the settings.

As @poetaster, I clone my XA2 on another XA2 from time to time.
This way, I don’t have to reinstall every app manually.
I make an image of the source phone on a µSD and I restore it to the target phone.
The procedure is described here: Full dd backup of rootfs and /home as flashable images - #4 by ric9k

Then every week or so, I copy /home on my computer. Description here: Full dd backup of rootfs and /home as flashable images - #5 by ric9k

The above techiques are not so complicated but far from being automatic.
So, I finally use a systemd timer which makes a hourly backup on the µSD that is permanently in the phone and weekly rsync it into the PC.

EDIT: The whole-phone-cloning technique is working very well apart for Android App Support (I don’t use it so much), even with two licensed devices.
There must be a file somewhere that identifies the devices / compares with IMEI.

But where?


It’s in the Backup settings, in the bottom. If you are restoring on the same device, then the previous backups are listed. If you are migrating into a fresh device, then maybe you could order a first (dummy) backup so it creates the basic folder layout in the a backup media, then you access the folder from your computer and you drop there the file backup file that you want to restore from.

Also there is some documentation: