It’s always worth doing regular backups of your special hidden Kodi folder, this doesn’t contain any Kodi system files it just contains everything you’ve installed since the first install. This means it can usually be copied and used on other devices so they have the exact same setup including settings.
Before we start… Setting image locations:
Ok so before we get into the nitty gritty of how to create a backup/build there’s something that you’ll need to understand before embarking on creating a universal build that you can share on multiple devices. If you’re planning on using a backup on another device then any artwork you link to must also be included in the backup zip, this means putting it somewhere in your hidden Kodi folder and linking to it in your skin settings. For example linking to a file that exists in your downloads folder on Windows is not going to work because that location won’t exist on anybody else’s system. I would recommend putting any artwork in /media/.
Simplest method for backing up (Community Portal):
The simplest method is to use the Community Portal add-on which has code I specifically designed for creating backups that work on multiple devices. This automatically excludes files that aren’t required, does some clever renaming tricks and essentially optimises the zip so it’s as small as possible. Do not be misled by certain parties out there encouraging people to use other tools for this procedure, so far every alternative option I’ve looked into uses either mine or Mikeys old code. Mikeys code is from the SD/USB Wizard which is not even designed for universal backups anyway – it should only be used on the same machine backup was taken from so that is definitely not what you should be using for universal builds. I’m not intentionally taking a swipe at anyone but am just telling you it like it is – I based the early backup functions on Mikeys original code but soon realised that method wasn’t fit for creating backups that could work on multiple devices and so I spent many months re-writing it from scratch and am continuing to update the code as and when needed. It does lots of clever things in the code to make the backup fully bug free and truly universal so please do not use inferior outdated alternatives that are still using my old code I dropped (for good reason!).
The backup process is very simple; just head into the maintenance section of Community Portal and click on Backup/Restore, click on the “Universal Backup” option and it will create 2 files – a guisettings and a master build zip file. If you’re planning on just manually copying over the zip with a file manager (whilst Kodi isn’t running) then you probably won’t need the guisettings file but if you’re going to be using CP to restore then you’ll more than likely need the guisettings – it just saves you having to reinstall the whole huge file again if the settings don’t take effect correctly the first time around.
Please note: If you’re looking to create a Community Build then please use the noobsandnerds method in CP rather than the universal one. The universal method is now quite dated, yes it’s still much more refined and reliable than some other options out there but it’s really only designed for personal backups and the NaN method is designed specifically for Community Builds.
Creating A Community Build From Start To Finish:
Thanks to DaButcher for this amazing guide, it really is everything you need to know rolled into one video.
The harder method (manual creation):
Using a file explorer of some nature you need to navigate to your hidden XBMC/Kodi folder. If doing a backup on a device that’s on the network you may want to consider accessing via your PC – there are guides on how to do that on this website. Once there just copy the whole folder to a thumb drive / PC or wherever you want to store it.
Now you have a complete backup of your install and you can copy whatever you want to another device. If you want a complete duplicate just copy all the contents of that folder to your special directory or you could choose to only copy addons or userdata or maybe even only addon_data.
If you do use this method it’s fine if you’re on the exact same device but if you copy items over to a different device you’ll more than likely find some things may not work as you had hoped. Add-ons will work just fine so you can copy that folder without any issues so long as both systems are running the same version of XBMC/Kodi (e.g. both on v.14). Addon_data should for the most part also be fine but there may be some paths set that need changing in the add-on settings, see the next step.
Trimming down the size:
You may be thinking the build size is pretty huge, don’t worry there are some things we can do here to decrease the size considerably. The best bet is to watch the video above which explains what you can and can’t remove but here’s the main things to remember:
/addons/packages – This contains a zip file of every addon you have installed, this folder can get pretty huge and it’s really not needed. The purpose of this is so that you can roll-back to a previous version of the add-on when the add-on updates, if you’re creating a backup then there is no point in keeping this.
DO NOT DELETE REPOSITORIES!!!!
It’s been brought to my attention that some YouTubers and blog sites are giving crazy advice to delete your repositories. This really is Kodi basics 101 and everyone should take the time to understand how repositories and add-ons interact with one another – if you’re giving Kodi advice then there really is no excuse for not knowing this. We have a guide explaining how add-ons and repositories work but in a nutshell here’s why you must not delete repositories:
An add-on is installed from a repository so why would you delete the (very small) repository file?
Without the repository installed the add-on WILL NOT UPDATE and you will soon have a broken add-on. Some add-ons require multiple updates each week in order for them to function properly. Installing an add-on without the relevant repository is asking for trouble.
A “source” you add via file manager is often wrongly spoken of as a repository, I believe this must be where the confusion arises from. You can by all means remove any sources via the file manager before backing up – it will save you no more than a few bytes in size so it’s a pointless task but if you want to do that to tidy up the file manager then you can but never delete a repository folder.
What problems am I likely to encounter?
Any favourites will most likely not work and you may have some problems with artwork in the skin. The reason for this is Kodi sometimes converts special:// (the Kodi path to your hidden folder) to the physical path. This means in some of the text files like favourites.xml it’s looking for a path that doesn’t exist on the new unit you’ve copied to as it has a different file structure. If you want to fix this read the next step.
Changing paths to “special://”
Simplest option is to use the Community Portal add-on where I coded up a function which runs through all your xml and ini files and replaces the physical paths with the special paths, you’ll find this option in the Maintenance section of the add-on (in the advanced section) and it’s called “Change my paths to special”. However if you really want to do it manually and risk the chance of human error then who am I to stop you, here’s what you need to do…
Manually editing your files:
Using a good text editor like Notepad++ or Sublime you can search for a particular string in multiple files and replace it with something else. What you need to do is find any physical local paths e.g. C:/Users/Lee/xxx to special:// and if done correctly all your files should work perfectly. The videos below describe how to do this much better! As previously mentioned the CP add-on now has the function to not only create a backup but also change your special paths so that is definitely the simpler route.