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:
Disclaimer: Please follow this guide at your own risk. AddictiveTips will not be liable if your device gets damaged or bricked during the process.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Launch GooManager once it has been installed.
- 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.
- Wait patiently till the app downloads the latest TWRP recovery for your device, and installs it.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- While your device is powered on and booted in Android normally, connect it to your computer via USB and
- Connect your device to your computer via USB and wait till you see ‘fastboot USB’ on the screen.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Enable USB debugging mode on your device from Menu > Settings > Applications > Development.
- Connect your device to your computer via USB.
- 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.
- 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.