How To Install A Custom Recovery To An Android Phone / Device

A custom recovery lets you perform several advanced operations on your Android device and we have covered it before in some of our guides but now, we will be detailing several available methods that you can use to flash a custom recovery to your phone. These will include the automated ROM Manager method for ClockworkMod, the automaded GooManager method for TWRP, the fastboot method for devices with unlocked bootloaders, and the flash_image method for times when other methods just aren’t working.

If you want to learn more about what a custom recovery does, check out our ClockworkMod Recovery guide.

While there may be several custom recoveries available for most Android devices, the most popular ones available today are ClockworkMod Recovery (also called CWM) and TWRP (TeamWin Recovery Project). Apart from the ROM Manager and GooManager methods that are specific to these two recoveries respectively, both the other methods are universal and should work for any recovery as long as it’s compatible with your device.

There are primarily three standard methods of installing a custom recovery to your phone.

  • Using ROM Manager or GooManager
  • Using Fastboot
  • Using flash_image

The ROM Manager or GooManager methods are the easiest for installing ClockworkMod or TWRP respectively. However, both these methods require root access so if that’s the path you’re choosing, check out our guide on how to root your Android phone, if you haven’t done so already.

If you are looking to install any custom recovery directly from command line, the fastboot method is the one for you. A major benefit of this method is that it does not even require you to root your device first. Do note however that for this method to work, you must have an unlocked bootloader. Check out our Android bootloader unlocking guide for more details on that.

The flash_image method also allows you to install any custom recovery, and that too from your device itself. It will require root access, a terminal emulator app, and the flash_image binary, but it frees you from the hassle of using your PC to manually install the recovery with the fastboot method.

For both the fastboot and the flash_image methods, you will require the custom recovery image. You can get the latest version of ClockworkMod recovery image and TWRP recovery image for your device from the ClockworkMod download page and the TWRP download page respectively.

The following scenarios will require alternative installation methods:

  • Your device does not have a separate recovery partition and its recovery comes built into the kernel (boot partition) itself. Samsung Galaxy devices and many Sony devices come under this category, and require flashing a kernel that includes the recovery using ODIN or FlashTool.
  • Your device isn’t a native Android device but Android has been ported to run on it and it therefore requires a specialized method for installing ClockworkMod recovery. The HTC HD2 and the HP TouchPad are good examples of this.

While it is not possible for us to have guides covering all the recovery installation methods for every single device out there, the standard methods provided in this guide should work for most devices. Furthermore, see these guides instead for some specific devices:

Install ClockworkMod recovery on HTC HD2 with MAGLDR | Samsung Galaxy S I9000 | Samsung Continuum.

Now let us proceed to the general, standard methods of installing a custom recovery to an Android device.

Disclaimer: Please follow this guide at your own risk. AddictiveTips will not be liable if your device gets damaged or bricked during the process.


Automated Methods

Install ClockworkMod Recovery with ROM Manager:

This is the easiest method available and lets you begin the installation using a graphical interface while you are booted into Android, thus you do not have to download the recovery image and enter any commands. This is the recommended method for most users and you should try other methods only if this one doesn’t work for you at all for some reason.

  1. Install ROM Manager on your device. It is an app that basically lets you schedule recovery operations while booted into Android, and has an option for installing the latest version of ClockworkMod Recovery.
  2. Launch the just installed ‘Rom Manager’ on your phone. The first option it gives you should say ‘Flash ClockworkMod Recovery’. Just tap on it and follow the instructions.
  3. Wait patiently while the system reboots and the latest version of ClockworkMod Recovery is installed. Select to reboot the device if it prompts you to.
  4. Once the device reboots into Android, verify that you have the latest version of ClockworkMod Recovery installed by launching Rom Manager. It should now mention in the first option that you have ClockworkMod installed along with its version you’re running, and any updates that might be available. If a newer version is available, tap on that option and follow the instructions to update.

Install TWRP Recovery with GooManager:

  1. Install GooManager on your device. It is an app that lets you download and install several Android ROMs and mods hosted on the Goo.im website, along with flashing the latest TWRP Touch recovery.
  2. Launch GooManager once it has been installed.
  3. Press Menu and select the ‘Install OpenRecoveryScript’ option. Confirm any prompts that you get after that, and provide the app with root access if it requests for it.
  4. Wait patiently till the app downloads the latest TWRP recovery for your device, and installs it.
  5. Once the recovery has been installed, confirm that it installed successfully by booting into it. You can do that right from GooManager itself by pressing Menu and selecting the ‘Reboot Recovery’ option.

Manual Methods

For any of the following methods, make sure to grab the latest recovery image for your device from the ClockworkMod Recovery download page or the TWRP Download Page.

WARNING: It is very important that the recovery image that you use in this method is compatible with your device. Else it will not work and flashing it could possibly mess up your device.

Install any Custom Recovery with Fastboot:

For this method to work, you must have ADB and fastboot installed on your computer. If you don’t, you can refer to our Android SDK installation guide. Once everything is all set, you can proceed as follows to install a custom recovery:

  1. Copy the recovery image to a convenient location on your computer, preferably with a short path. We will be placing it on the C Drive directly (not in any folder) and using that in the next steps.
    Note: The recovery image should have .img extension. If it is in a zip file, extract the .img file from it before proceeding.
  2. While your device is powered on and booted in Android normally, connect it to your computer via USB and
  3. Connect your device to your computer via USB and wait till you see ‘fastboot USB’ on the screen.
  4. Launch Command Prompt and type the following command:
    fastboot flash recovery c:\recovery.img

    Note that we have used c:\recovery.img as we the image extracted at the root of our C drive and renamed it to recovery.img. If you extracted the file elsewhere, use the appropriate path and if your recovery image has a different name, use the appropriate name or rename it to recovery.img first.

  5. Wait for the process to finish and reboot your device once it’s done.

Install any Custom Recovery with flash_image:

Just like the previous method, this method also requires following advanced steps and is not recommended if the first method is working for you. flash_image is a tool for Android devices that lets you rewrite your phone’s system partitions with partition image files and installing it to your device requires ADB. If you don’t already have ADB installed, check out our guide on installing ADB. Once you have ADB installed, flash the custom recovery image as follows:

WARNING: It is very important that the recovery image that you use in this method is compatible with your device. Else it will not work and flashing it could possibly brick your device.

  1. Download flash_image and extract it from the zip file to a location on your computer. We extracted it to the main C drive (not in any folder) and will use that in the next steps.
  2. Copy the recovery image for your phone to a convenient location on your computer, preferably with a short path. We will be placing it on the C Drive directly (not in any folder) and using that in the next steps.
    Note: The recovery image should have .img extension. If it is in a zip file, extract the .img file from it.
  3. Enable USB debugging mode on your device from Menu > Settings > Applications > Development.
  4. Connect your device to your computer via USB.
  5. Open a Command Prompt window on your computer and enter the following commands:
    adb push c:\flash_image /sdcard/
    adb push c:\recovery.img /sdcard/
    adb shell
    su
    mount -o remount, rw /system
    cp /sdcard/flash_image /system/bin
    cd /system/bin
    chmod 777 flash_image
    flash_image recovery /sdcard/recovery.img

    This will first transfer flash_image and recovery.img to your phone. Then it will copy flash_image to the /system/bin folder of your Android device and make it executable. Finally, it will flash the custom recovery image to your device using flash_image.
    Note that we used c:\flash_image and c:\recovery.img in the first two lines as we had these files extracted at the root of our C drive. If you extracted the files elsewhere, use the appropriate paths and if your recovery image has a different name, use the appropriate name.

  6. Reboot your device once the process is finished and you’re done. You may exit adb and the Command Prompt window on your computer by entering ‘exit’ thrice.

Boot Into Recovery

Now that you have the custom recovery installed, you should verify that it has been installed successfully by booting your device into recovery. You will also need to boot into recovery if you want to manually perform any of the recovery operations later.

If you installed the recovery using ROM Manager and are currently booted into Android, just launch ROM Manager on your device and tap ‘Reboot into Recovery’. With ROM Manager, it is also easier to just schedule the recovery operations from the GUI to be performed automatically, rather than rebooting manually into recovery and performing them from there. You can learn more in our guide on Android ROM Manager.

If you have used any of the other methods to install the custom recovery or can’t boot Android to be able to use ROM Manager and use it to reboot into recovery, you can use the manual method for booting your device into recovery.

If any of these methods don’t work for you, check out our ClockworkMod recovery section for guides on several other devices including most tablets.

That’s about it – you should now have a custom recovery installed on your Android device. Know of another method? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Jude

    after clicking on Flash ClockworkMod Recovery, it ask me my phones model no, n my LG OPtimus P500 is nt mentioned in the various option, pls help wat shld i do????

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  • J0nnymai

    so I am trying to use Rom manager but every time I flash clockworkmod recovery and then reboot into recovery it isn’t installing correctly. I keep getting errors saying

    E:failed to verify whole-file signature
    E:signature verification failed
    Installation aborted

    ive tried multiple times and I keep getting the same thing. now i am trying to use fastboot but I cant find a recovery image for the vibrant. is there anything else I can do? BTW my phone has been rooted with Superoneclick. I have done all the work needed to flash the 2.3 Gingerbread Clone ROM On my Samsung Vibrant this is the only step I’m having trouble with.

    • Rgilbert96

      did you find a fix for this problem (so I am trying to use Rom manager but every time I flash clockworkmod recovery and then reboot into recovery it isn’t installing correctly. I keep getting errors saying ).  i have the same problem.

      E:failed to verify whole-file signature
      E:signature verification failed
      Installation aborted

      ive tried multiple times and I keep getting the same thing. now i am trying to use fastboot but I cant find a recovery image for the vibrant. is there anything else I can do? BTW my phone has been rooted with Superoneclick. I have done all the work needed to flash the 2.3 Gingerbread Clone ROM On my Samsung Vibrant this is the only step I’m having trouble with.
      A

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  • JOKERz

    Thanks!!
    i can boot to recovery mode now

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  • hems

    Hi after clicking on Flash ClockworkMod Recovery, it ask me my phones model no, n myGalaxy spica is not mentioned in the options…

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  • Inf

    UnrEVOked installed it automatically for me. Works fine.

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  • Gabriel

    I have this FastBoot info:
    SAPPHIRE PVT 32B SHIP S-ON G
    HBOOT-1.33.013 (SAPP30000)
    CPLD-10
    RADIO-2.22.28.25
    Oct 21 2009,22:33:27
    But if I try ROM Manager it say’s it installed but it never boots into recovery (how much time is reasonable for this?) If I try FastBoot I get the “Remote Not Allow” Error and if I try Flash_Image I get the “Illegal Instruction” and sometimes the ‘+ Stopped (signal)” when running Flash_Image, what can I do to install this Recovery?

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  • rolins

    hello, excuse my English but it is bad.

    The Recovery ClockworkMod you can put a mini samsung galaxy, since it brickea Rom Manager, so ask before you put it, since I want to make a copy of the rom that comes with the phone factory.

    Thank you

  • Kamalpreet

    Hey there,
    My phone model is not available on the options.
    Please provide the model GARMIN-ASUS A10 on the next update please.

    -Thanks

  • Ace

    Hi,
    Can samsung device be fastbooted? I googled a lot byt found very little information about ‘fastboot on samsung galaxy ace’ or Micromax A70.

    Also does the flash_image method applies on Micromax A70?
    Hope to hear drom you soon.

  • Frank

    I get “cp: permission denied” ofter entering: “mount -o remount, rw /system”

    im using With flash_image: option to get ClockworkMod recovery on my root-samsung-galaxy-gio-s5660
    Installed stock rom is v2.3.3 Gingerbread (S5660XXKPA)

    • Frank

      Oke fixed the problem. I did not see the mob popped up a message asking su permission!

      Now i have a new problem after command: cp /sdcard/flash_image /system/bin
      i get :cp: not found
      #
      A
      Any one a idee to get this working?

      • Ives

        works in the droid 2 global

  • Kayle

    Can someone help me how to fix the Illegal instruction error ? Thanks in advance

  • Nejdi94

    i got stuck at waiting for device on fastboot mode

  • Awais4u17

    MY GALAXY MINI GOT BRICKED !!!! WRONG INSTRUCTIONS PLZ DO NOT FOLLOW ANYONE T B H !!!!!!!!! F UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

  • jeremytfsp

    Hi there, I have been trying to flash Clockwork Mod recovery image onto
    my lg optimus 2x for hours and hours and it’s not working. I have tried several
    methods:

    1. ROM Manager: during the process of flashing the recovery image, it
    stops and shows the notification “error while running privileged commands”, a
    few minutes later, my phone crashes, and on reboot, it gets stuck on the boot loop.
    I end up having to restore my phone every time (which I’ve done 30+ times of)

    *Note: when I activate the recovery menu the phone automatically starts
    to wipe everything before I gain access to the menu, so every time I go into
    the recovery menu my phone gets restored.

    2. I’ve tried flashing the recovery image from my computer following the
    procedures of this website http://android.modaco.com/topic/335479-29-jun-4005-clockworkmod-recovery-for-the-lg-optimus-2x/.
    Basically, I run the .batch windows installation file, and after it finishes I
    reboot my phone like it said, and my phone is stuck in a boot loop—help factory
    reset again.

    3. I have tried using flash_image (http://www.addictivetips.com/mobile/how-to-install-a-custom-recovery-to-an-android-phone-device/),
    and everything is working fine as I run the following commands:

    adb push c:flash_image
    /sdcard/

    adb push
    c:recovery.img /sdcard/

    adb shell

    su

    mount -o
    remount, rw /system

    cp
    /sdcard/flash_image /system/bin

    cd /system/bin

    chmod 777
    flash_image

    flash_image
    recovery /sdcard/recovery.img

    Until the last line, I get the message “error scanning partition” at the
    very end, and can’t flash the recovery image.

    Fastboot: I have not attempted the fastboot method yet, because upon researching
    on how to fastboot my phone on google, I found no method for my specific phone,
    and explanation of required software and steps on a computer was not very clear
    enough for me to understand. If anyone could explain in detail how to fastboot
    I would really appreciate it.

    I assume flashing CWM on the optimus 2x shouldn’t be this much of a
    hassle so something must be wrong, I have spent more than 10 hours trying the
    flash it and restored my phone more than 30 times.

    Please help, thankyou.

  • Isaac Kishk

    if you get the “no space left on device” on the flash_image, try: ./flash_image recovery /dev/zero then try flashing the recovery.img again, worked like a charm.

  • someone

    how do you install clockwork mode on huawei 8180

  • obarthelemy

    Thanks a lot: my recovery mode got borked, and thanks to you I’ve been able to re-set it via adb.
    Again, thanks. And kudos for a a very well-made guide.

  • Huanito

    my command prompt (cmd) didnt recognize commands used in ” with flash image”

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=JRummy+Apps+Inc.&hl=en Jared Rummler

    Using ROM Toolbox is the easiest way. It has both TWRP and CWM recovery and its free (ROM Toolbox Lite).

    ROM Toolbox -> ROM Management -> Flash Recovery -> Select the recovery -> done!

  • Josef

    hi i have a goohpone i5 and i am trying to flash cwm revovery with this method, when i come to the cp command , im stuck with sh: cp: not found! i cant do anyting from this point forward! what can i do to continue the process?

    • http://hqraja.com/ Haroon Q. Raja

      Try using ‘mv’ instead of ‘cp’.

  • Wendy Biesheuvel

    Thank you! Goo saved me and TWRP! I couldn’t get from hboot to recovery. Couldn’t get to recovery with TWRP app. Goo updated my TWRP and did it all for me. Perfect noob helper.. Goo put me in recovery wiped and flashed rom in under 5 minutes. Just by following your simple steps. :)

  • Anzi

    hi…i have a Sony Xperia Z C6602..I just have a problem which i cant seem to fix….first d range meter disappeared and the cell was not showing range though the sim was still in and it would continuously restart till the batteries drained…the imei code from the cell just vanished as i couldn’t access it from the phone no more…i tried flashing it but to no use…it got worse..before flashing i was able to use the cell functions a bit and enable dev mode on it now i cant even get it past the lock screen and it restarts…it seems as though none of the methods are working as i cant enable dev mode…could i just format the phone entirely and reinstall a fresh copy of android….ds started after i upgraded android jelly bean from 4.2.1 to 4.2.2 that is the latest version available by sony…i need help plesae

  • Anzi

    If anyone has a solution to my problem please do email me at anziniel@gmail.com