Restoring My Apps, Settings & Configuration On Lollipop

I love a clean start. There’s nothing like the feel of a smartphone (or PC) after a factory reset.

I’m using my Nexus 5 for almost a year now. For a while, I’ve been wanting to do a factory reset and start clean. The upcoming Lollipop upgrade is exactly the push I needed to do it.

My game plan:

  1. Before upgrading:
    1. Perform general app cleanup, so I upgrade only with the apps I want.
    2. Document my settings and configuration (system and apps), so I can re-apply it if needed.
    3. Backup data.
  2. Upgrade.
  3. After upgrading:
    1. Restore apps, data, settings and configuration, as needed.
    2. Explore what new built-in features can replace 3rd party apps I’m using. I always prefer built-in over 3rd party.

After I upgraded my Nexus 5 to Lollipop, it’s time to set up the device the way I want it. Since my upgrade process involved full data wipe, I’m starting clean.

In this post, I describe how I use the preparation steps I’ve taken before the upgrade. Not unlike the previous posts, this process is highly personalized and detailed, so the post is just a description of the method with some highlights.

First boot

After flashing the factory image, the first boot of the device takes care of restoring quite a few stuff.

A few examples for things that get restored at this stage:

  • Installed apps. Taking care of apps cleanup earlier means that I can safely choose to restore everything.
  • Home screens.
  • Known WiFi networks and passwords.
  • Some system settings (not sure what exactly).

Here’s the main home screen immediately after the first boot, and before all the apps are reinstalled:

Restoring phone settings

Method: I went through all my documented phone settings, and reapplied selectively.

A few examples of things I reapplied:

  • “Owner info” message content.
  • Apps with “Device admin” access (for me: Android Device Manager & Secure Settings).
  • Apps with “Notification access” (for me: only Pushbullet).
  • Developer options I’ve changed (like “Stay awake while charging”).

I took to liberty to change and skip stuff as I saw fit. For example, I decided not to sync one of my Google Apps accounts, because I don’t really need it sync’ed anymore – I configured it to forward everything yo my main Gmail account.

Restoring home screens layout and widgets

It was nice to see that the home screens were restored automatically for me. All the shortcuts were restored as they were.

The only thing I needed to do manually is to rebind the 1×1 Tasker shortcuts to their appropriate Tasker tasks. This is something I was able to do only after restoring my Tasker data.

(Not) Restoring lock screen layout and widgets

In the settings and configuration backup post I documented my DashClock-based lock screen set up.

For now, I decided to skip reconfiguring it. Lollipop brings significant change to the lock screen, and I usually prefer built-in features over 3rd party alternatives. For this reason, I opted to stay with the default lock screen, at least for a while.

Setting up my ASAP list

As predicted, the complete restore process doesn’t fir a single session. Luckily, I prioritized the things I need to restore, so I can restore the important things during the first session.

Here’s the list of things I took care of first:

  • During first boot, I signed in with my main Gmail account. This took care of a handful of Google services without extra effort on my side (Gmail, Inbox, Keep, Contacts, Calendar, Hangouts IM, Drive, Maps, Google+ & Photos, YouTube).
  • Added my DayJob Google Apps account.
  • Authy
    • Enabled PIN protection
    • Restore external accounts from encrypted cloud backup (password in LastPass)
  • Chrome – signed in with my main Gmail account
  • Copied selected data from the backup back to the sdcard with adb push (backups directory and other exported settings files).
  • Call Logs Backup & Restore
    • Reconfigured backup location
    • Restored call logs from last backup
    • Reconfigured schedule
  • SMS Backup & Restore
    • Reconfigured backup location
    • Restored SMS from last backup
    • Reconfigured schedule
  • FolderSync
    • Restored folder pairs
  • Android Device Manager
    • Verified that I can manage the device from the web console
  • Evernote – signed in
  • Feedly – signed in
  • Pocket – signed in
  • BeyondPod Pro
    • Imported settings file from backup, including feeds, categories, and playlists
  • Poweramp
    • Pushed my local music library from backup (adb push)
    • Imported settings file from backup
  • Pushbullet – signed in
  • Dropbox – signed in & enabled camera upload
  • Buffer – signed in
  • WhatsApp
    • Pushed WhatsApp directory from backup (adb push)
    • Chose to restore conversations during first launch
    • Signed in using phone number
  • Hangouts – enabled SMS
  • Yatse XBMC Remote
    • Imported settings file from backup
  • OurGroceries
    • Configured shared lists with Oogi
  • Tasker
    • Imported Tasker data file (with all the tasks, profiles, etc.) from backup
    • Configured home screen task shortcuts
    • Re-entered passwords / PIN codes in relevant tasks using Secure Settings
  • Endomondo – signed in
  • Facebook – signed in to web client & Page manager app
  • Bitbucket – signed in (web)
  • WordPress – signed in with admin

This took around an hour. While not covering all the stuff I want to restore, it does cover 99% of my daily usage. I got to the rest of the stuff over the couple of days after that.

Setting up the rest

Over a couple of days, I completed the set up for everything I didn’t cover during the first session.

I used the documentation I created earlier extensively to remember what I wanted to set up, and how. I also took the liberty to change settings when I got to them.

I see no reason to reiterate the lists and highlights from the configuration backup post, replacing the word “backup” or “export” with “restore” or “import”. So I won’t 🙂 .


That concludes my process for restoring my device after flashing Lollipop.

That also concludes this mini Android upgrade project.

I hope that my documented experience can be useful in some way. Even if not, it’s useful to me 🙂 .

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