There are many Android backup apps available in the Google Play Store. The problem with these apps is that they either take a snapshot of the device, saving all the apps and settings, or only save individual APKs and not the user files. A great backup alternative is Helium. This Android app will backup individual app files like game saves and user information from installed apps.

You can backup locally (on the device), copy to a PC, or upload to a cloud storage service like Google Play. Cloud storage requires Helium Premium, but it's a worthwhile investment because you can automate backup schedules and Android to Android sync.

Backing up your Android device is important because you don't want to lose any important files, and with Helium, you can be sure you've saved the most important ones.

Here is how to use Helium.


Download Helium on your Android device and download the Heliumn Desktop Installer to your PC, Mac, or Linux machine. If you're using Windows, it's a good idea to download Android drivers for your phone, just in case, especially if you've never connected your device to a computer.

Install Helium Desktop Installer and follow its instructions. Once it's installed, Helium on Android will ask you to connect the Android device to the computer to enable Helium on Android.

The free version of Helium doesn't allow Google Drive backups, but it's worth paying for the premium version to get this support.

Unless you have a lot of apps you don't use anymore, your first backup should be a full backup. Once you've finished selecting the apps, add a name, and tap "Backup."

Helium will ask where you want to save the backup. Even though there are options for Google Drive and other cloud storage accounts, they are not activated. Choose "USB Storage", which will save it to your device locally. After you select the location, wait for Helium to complete. The default option for Helium is to only save the internal app files and not the apk, s0 take note that you won't have the actual APK for any apps.

It'll notify you when the backup is complete. If you want to save the Android Helium folder on your desktop, connect the Android device to the computer, and copy the file.


Restoring files is as easy as backing up. Select "Restore and Sync" and choose where the file is saved. If you don't have the paid version of Helium, it'll most likely be in "USB Storage". If you are restoring after wiping your device, you're going to have to install all the APKs for your apps again. Helium doesn't save the APK by default.

Select the app files and "Restore." If you have a lot of apps, it may take a little time for Helium to completely restore all the files. After you finish, your other apps should have all the user data.

Helium is a great app for backups because it saves the most important files that other backup apps seem to ignore. I recommend the full version because of the cloud storage support, but you can get around that by copying the Helium folder off your Android device to a computer, and then uploading that to the cloud.

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Before you do a backup, clean up your Android device by detecting malicious apps that eat your battery-life up.


  • grey |

    Hi there

    Have a problem with doing my backup. Wondering if you might be able to shed some light. I have the Carbon Desktop Application installed on my Windows PC.

    I've connected my phone to my laptop with a USB cable, I've activated USB debugging and PTP mode. However "USB Storage" does not appear as a backup destination.

    Any idea what I could have missed out?

    Thanks in advance!

  • antoine |

    I got the same problem that you have, i have "internal storage" but not USB storage and i can`t save it on my internal storage because my internal storage is full... I am using a Galaxy Nexus and a Nexus 7 and i have problem on both devices... I need help please !!! haha

  • Christopher Park |
    Christopher Park

    The problem is that your device is set to PTP. That mode is only for pictures. You need to set the device as MTP or Media Device and this will allow the device to be seen as USB storage.

  • Christopher Park |
    Christopher Park

    USB storage is how a computer will see the device. For Google-branded devices, it will show as the name of the device. If your internal storage is full, then there isn't anything you can do except delete some apps or files to free space to run the backup. Or you can pay for the premium version so you can upload to a cloud storage account.

  • Pepperoni |

    He/She could still just click the 3 vertical dots and choose pc-download, which will provide him/her with a local ip adress from which (s)he can directly download to the pc.

  • David |

    I am a bit lost in the ability of the app to do the backup on the PC... I have installed the PC app, installed Carbon (basic version) on the Galaxy Note, and started the process. The option of saving the backup onto the PC doesn't even present itself. So, I am saving it onto the ext. SD card, but I would prefer the backup on the PC. This option made me interested in the app on the first place... So, what is the solution?

  • David |

    In addition to my earlier notes, I have the following observations:

    1. Starting Carbon is a very slow process, and apart from the blank screen, nothing indicates that the application is "working". This issue should be addressed together with my other observations below.

    2. I find the user interface quite inadequate. When clicking on the apps selection window (actually the accompanying text should say: "click below to list apps" - or something similar), there should be a symbol or note that the app is searching for the installed apps that are to be backed up. There is a considerable time elapses before anything at all shows on the screen, and seemingly nothing is happening.

    3. Once the list of available apps is shown, it would be nice to have a "select all" button. In my case, there are over 170 apps. Am I supposed to tick them out one by one?

    4. Even though I removed the "App Data Only" tick mark, each time Carbon is started the tick mark re-appears. Shouldn't it save my selection upon exit?

    5. The MENU option brings up "PC Download" that is in itself a mystery what is it for, as it says only "Carbon Server is Running". What is it purpose and how one supposed to use it?

    6. When filling in a name in the "Remember Group of Apps" selection, there is no SAVE or CONFIRM button, just the "Backup" command to continue the process. This is quite confusing... Worse is that when pressing on the "Backup" there is a new page is shown asking a further option with regard to the PC. BUT (!) this new page disappears in a second without giving the chance even to read it, never mind selecting whatever is available there.

    As a final note, this application may be do a wonderful job, the problem however is that the procedure to arrive at the final result is flawed to the extreme... Please fix it!

  • Christopher Park |
    Christopher Park

    There's no direct export to PC for Carbon, you have to backup the files locally then connect to a computer through USB an manually copy the backup off the device.

  • Jeffrey Ellis |
    Jeffrey Ellis

    I have spent many hours trying to backup/restore from one N4 to another N4 (warranty exchange). Ray, from Clockworldmod, has been very helpful in email exchanges. But the PC Download technology appears to be very unreliable -- it took several efforts to back up my data onto my computer -- including tries using different computers and networks. I still have not been able to restore the data to my new phone -- the web server screen shows "restoring", but my N4 eventually reports "Carbon Server Not Running" after about 10-15 minutes. I'm only dealing with about 200MB of data. I will gladly pay for the Premium edition if I can get reassurances that the cloud backup method works.

  • Jeffrey Ellis |
    Jeffrey Ellis

    Note: as others have indicated, the free version requires choosing "PC Download" from the upper right hand corner three dot symbol. You're then prompted to log on with your PC to a web server, which may or may not connect when you type in the server number into your address bar. The above method presupposes you have successfully installed the Carbon App, appropriate Android drivers and then plugged in your phone and followed the instructions for setting the proper storage mode, USB debugging, and then unplugged from the USB port before attempting the backup. And if your phones been powered down, you'll need to plug back in to the USB cable from your computer to establish the connection -- and then unplug to backup/restore. I'm not sure its worth doing all this to save $5.00. My only question is whether or not the Premium edition actually works.

  • David |

    To Christopher: thanks for the info! The various advices as to how to implement Carbon saving to the PC is so unclear, that I was under the impression that it can be done simply by choosing the PC location from the Backup option. Of course, this option is not present at all, but confusing references are... Now, if all I have to do is to copy over the Backup files to the PC, them Carbon doesn't offer (in its free version) anything special at all. "My Backup", etc... can do the same, i.e. saving the files onto the SD card, which can also be copied onto the PC... Simple as that. Therefore, the "advertising" that Carbon can backup to PC is simply not so... Thanks again for pointing this fact to me.

  • David |

    To Christopher: I take it back... You can copy the Carbon backup directory from the SD card to the PC, but the sub-directories supposed to contain the actual files are EMPTY.... At least this is what happened in my case. I see no way out of this problem, just fed up with Carbon...

  • Ross |

    Guys,I have discovered why the carbon folder on an external backup seems empty??. When you first do a USB connection you need to select on the USB Debugging PTP to make the connection work with Carbon Copy. So when you check via windows explorer that folder in the external card all the of the sub folder seem to be empty but in actual fact they have all the relevant backed up files. Reason why you dont see them is because the system only display photos as it is in PTP mode. If you select on your phone the USB PC Connection as MTP then you will seem them all and you can safely copy the master Carbon folder anywhere on your PC. Hence, you have a copy of the backup on your PC too. Hope this helps everyone concerned

  • jaksherry |

    Paid for the premium version on my Galaxy Nexus to do a cloud backup. On my warranty exchange replacement Ga;axy Nexus, it says "There was no purchase found for the provided information." SO Google Drive has my backups, but it wont allow me to restore to my new phone. Any ideas?

  • jaksherry |

    Update: several hours later, the app recognized the previous purchase. I am assuming the server took some time to load to transaction, and now all is working well. This app is a lifesaver- works like a dream.

  • Andy |

    Hi. I would like to ask if carbon can save a singular paid for apk to my sd card for backup purposes, as all too often you update an app and something breaks and I would like the option to be able to sideload the previous version back again? I am an unrooted galaxy s3.

  • zuhayr. |

    how on earth dp i chance from ptp to mtp. can someone please tell me a step by step. i have a htc one x with the latest software installed while off for warranty repair.

  • Digitz |

    Hi Zuhayr...if you haven't figured it out yet. To change USB connection...plug in your phone and swipe down notifications and click on "Connected as media device..."

  • Digitz |

    Has anyone figured out if premium allows a simple backup to PC yet?

    I also don't see the "USB Storage" option on the free version but am not going to send them a penny if this app doesn't do what they say it does. I'm not going to jump through hoops to backup to PC. Anyone know?

  • Aaron |

    Helium is not working for me.. Anyone have any other backup options? I just need a "game save" saved so I can remove the app, and reinstall it later next time my neice visits. It's her saved game, and the game uses alot of space.

  • tangsiulam |

    Helium is not work for the transition from samsung note 2 to note 3, but it is work for the transition from note 1 to note 2. Does someone have this problem also? Or have any solution?

  • quicksite |

    I am as annoyed as everyone else. I paid for premium for FUTURE usage in scehdiled backups. but what I have wanted to do is BACKUP TO MY COMPUTER drive via USB cable. isn't that the fastest way to transfer data, vs via IP address and server? It is not the least bit clear of how PC-mode works. I see a web interface on my Mac browser, but nothing occurs on my Android phone. So it seems like it must be wifi connection or how else? Wifi takes forever when you have over 300 apps, as I do, and have elected to backup apps as well as data.

    Helium was supposed to be the simple way.

    @Christopher Park: if you happen to see this, could you please clarify what settings and modes to select on both Android device and PC to use USB Cable data transfer. Even your added comments about switching the USB mode on phone doesn't then say: Your data will backup using the USB cable. It seems like with the web server, it's not using the cable at all. Is it?

    Thank you.

  • christopher.park |


    I reinstalled the app again to see if I could re-create the problems you're having. The PC program doesn't set the program to download automatically. It enables the Android app to create backups. Helium asks that you connect it to PTP (camera mode/also supports non-MTP transfers) so the desktop app can enable the settings. The best thing to do after backup is connect the Android device with Helium closed, just through USB and find the folder marked "carbon" and drag-and-drop it onto your desktop.

  • tobib8 |


    "The best thing to do after backup is connect the Android device with Helium closed, just through USB and find the folder marked "carbon" and drag-and-drop it onto your desktop."

    When I do that on my Nexus 5 the Helium App can't find the backup files anymore, even after copying them back to the internal storage.

    The only way the backup worked root-safe is the Server Backup. takes a while when backing up huge apps but it works.

  • david.lundholm |


    "The best thing to do after backup is connect the Android device with Helium closed, just through USB and find the folder marked "carbon" and drag-and-drop it onto your desktop."

    [Bought premium version]; did what you suggest above and all it contains is a nomedia file, zero bytes. Yet, when I click on the Nexus 4/carbon file, it's 723mb.

    Managed to find a way of copying them over - not sure how - but on my new Nexus 5, it still can't see them.

    Having spent nearly 80 minutes on Xmas Eve trying to sort this - feeling very fed up - it was never this way on an iphone. And sorry, your app just doesn't have the usability it deserves to be charging a premium of any kind.

  • lcdsantos |

    Helium lost the ability to backup to your external microSD card in KitKat. And up to now they didn´t fix this! And this can be fixed! C´mon guys!

  • daveinsouthcentr |

    Just starting. I uploaded to Box. Decided Box password too easy, so changed password on Box website. Now I can't use Box on Helium. How do I change Box password in Helium? Thanks

  • rjb.azm |

    Helium desktop says that helium has been enabled on your android. but the Android device says waiting for helium desktop application to enable application backup on your android. I have tried usb, mtp, ptp and different usb ports too. Pc also recognize my device as android phone(Android composite ADB Interface)Can anybody help?

  • TroySmith80 |

    @chris THanks for the article, and thanks to the commenters as well.

    Chris, you didn't include much detail in the process of copying files to the PC and back again. You did some more in the comments, but did not go into any detail about restoring the backup.

    I have a replacement phone, same as the original. I backed up the original to phone memory, then transferred the "carbon" folder to my PC, then copied that folder onto the new phone. But when i open helium on the new phone it doesn't seem to "see" the backup data there. What is the specific process for getting the data onto the new phone and restored?

  • |

    Hello everyone.I was in trouble restoring a backup of a new smartphone to another, using the free Helium with the internal memory. After trying many alternatives, I could succeed.

    I installed the same apps on the new smartphone, and I made a backup of the data with apps on both devices using the Helium. Then, through a file manager, copied the backup folder of the old Carbon smartphone to Dropbox. In the new smartphone, I copied the backup Dropbox replacing what was in Carbon folder.

    Finally, the new smartphone Helium recognized that there was a backup in internal memory and restored the apps. I hope this solution will serve to you.

    (I am Brazilian and this text was translated with the help of Google. Sorry for any failure.)

  • bashiredilla |

    hello good day...i hope this helps...,if you guys had a back up from the server..a backup lib file will be created in your downloads folder..now on the helium server, there is a RESTORE mode on the page and there is a browse button, click it and then browse to where your backup lib file is, then click open and the restore option page will show up...well if you have backup all your apps, the restore will do so..if you want to restore apps independently, you should backup apps on a one by one basis....

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