Let’s talk about Android Recovery

Jesse Han   2017.09.11 3:05   Jesse Han  

The term recovery is without a doubt known among modification enthusiasts, and you know, every Android device has its own stock recovery in theory.

Stock recovery

In Android, as a part of the system, Android system recovery or called stock recovery is naturally developed by Google, it is a special system boot mode that allows system restore to factory state or handles software installation. especially is handling system update, on this when an OTA arrives, we can easily sideload via ADB. However, stock recovery just provide limited functionality. For example, we cannot often flash a custom Rom or other modifications with stock recovery.

Custom recovery

In order to have more control over what what can install on Android, the custom recovery was created. A custom recovery is not made by Google, but by the third-party developers who want to get more features for Android device, at least for now. With a custom recovery, we can install any firmware in principle, including the unofficial Rom like AOSP Rom, additional package like GApps and SuperSU root manager, and among other things, we can perform a full system backup called nandroid backup.

A custom recovery comes in several variants, such as CWM and TWRP. But in fact, so far the most popular custom recovery is TWRP. Of course, no matter what kind of custom recoveries you have, they offer more options than standard Android system recovery. As I mentioned, with these option, you can flash a custom Rom such as Paranoid Android Rom or install a root app which gives you root privileges on your Android device. Actually, if you want to customize your Android device in such a way, a custom recovery is a cornerstone. 

Install a custom recovery

Installing a custom recovery works differently per device. But in general, we can install it via ADB command, there is a guide of OnePlus 3T for your reference. For Samsung devices, we can often install it via Odin flash tool, such as TWRP for Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

For TWRP recovery, the Team Win team has also released an official installation app called Official TWRP App. With this app, you can get the latest TWRP for your Android device in time, you can even flash images from internal storage. It’s important to note, however, that root is required. Of course, if you only want to check TWRP version, the Official TWRP App doesn’t require root.

Boot into recovery mode

Booting into recovery mode is often activated by pressing a few buttons at the same time before starting the device. Take Galaxy S8 as a sample, you can boot it into recovery mode by simultaneously pressing Power, Bixby and Volume Up buttons. As another example, we can simultaneously press Volume Up and Power buttons to boot Android One devices into recovery mode.

There is not doubt that we have other ways for booting the device into recovery mode, such as fastboot command.

Boot into recovery mode via fastboot command
  • First, please make sure you have configured ADB on your computer
  • Connect your Android device to computer
  • Execute command
    adb reboot recovery
  • Your Android device will automatically boot into recovery mode

Install a custom Rom via TWRP

As you have already know, TWRP is currently the most common custom recovery. So let’s look at how to use it to install a custom Rom. Actually, it is very easy to install a custom Rom via TWRP recovery.

  • Install TWRP recovery to Android device
  • Download and transfer the flashable ZIP Rom file to Android device, such as Android 8.0 Oreo AOSP Rom for Nexus
  • Boot Android device into recovery mode
  • Wipe
  • Select all options, which generally including Dalvik Cache, System, Data, Internal Storage and Cache
  • Swipe to Wipe to clear all dataTWRP.Swipe.to.Wipe
  • Go back to recovery main menu
  • Install
  • Select your ZIP Rom file
  • Swipe to Confirm Flash to install RomTWRP.Swipe.to.Confirm.Flash
  • Wait for the installation to be completed

Obviously, to install other ZIP package such as GApps, the process is the same.