The only way to fully create a backup on Android is with TWRP and this guide shows you how to create a Nandroid backup on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.
iOS has a great backup solution and it still amazes me that Google has yet to implement one for Android. Some OEMs offer computer software that says they’ll backup your data and while it does create a backup of some important data, it is in no way a complete backup. Google did implement an auto backup system for Android not too long ago, but developers have to opt into the system and if they don’t then your application data does not get restored after a factory reset.
There is a way to do individual application backups without root with ADB, but again, it’s not a complete backup and it doesn’t save any of your device data either. A popular 3rd-party application call Helium uses this method and it is nice for those who don’t want to install TWRP, it isn’t optimal. Titanium Backup is another 3rd-party application that can create and restore backups of an application (if you have root access), but again it doesn’t backup any device data.
The only solution we have right now for a full partition backup system is with the TWRP custom recovery. So to follow this guide you will need to install TWRP on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, along with those requirements (like having an unlocked bootloader).
Pixel 2 Create Nandroid Backup
- Boot the Pixel 2 into Recovery Mode
- Tap the Backup button
- Choose your options (described below)
- Swipe the white arrows to initiate the backup
- Wait for the Pixel 2 Nandroid backup to be completed
- Tap the Reboot System button when it is finished
This step by step tutorial is a detailed explanation of a topic I covered on my Pixel 2 Tips and Tricks article. I recommend you read through that if you're curious about learning the ins and outs of the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.
So, once you have your prerequisites done (unlocked bootloader, twrp installed), we can then begin the process of creating a Nandroid backup on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. I use the Pixel 2 XL in the embedded video above, but the process is exactly the same for the smaller variant. We start out by booting the device into Recovery Mode and this will take us to the TWRP main menu. From here, we are shown a few rows of buttons but we just need to tap on the Backup button on the left.
From here, we have a number of options to set depending on what type of backup you need to create. In the video above, I showed how to create a full backup so that will require you make sure all partitions are highlighted. However, if you just want to backup the boot partition (aka the kernel), or just the data partition, then make sure only that partition is highlighted. Right above the partition section is a place that lets you choose a name for your backup.
I highly recommend you set a custom name like I did in the video and name it something that describes the state of your device. This could be the current version of Android, if it’s rooted or not, what firmware you have on it (stock, custom rom, etc) and more. You can also append the time to it so that you can tell which backups are new and which ones are old. If you need to restore from one of your backups in a month or two then having them organized is very helpful.
You can also choose to enable compression, encrypt the backup, and change its storage location (to an OTG connected device). Once you are ready though, go ahead and swipe the white arrows to the right and wait patiently. My backup took around 100 seconds but yours could take more or less time. It will all depend on how much you are backing up. When the backup is complete, a Reboot System button will appear at the bottom and tapping it will boot us back into the Android OS.