If you have decided to take a trip to the land of custom
ROMs and Android hacking in general, you’d need to take
one first step - flash (install) a custom recovery. In this
article, we explain what exactly is a ‘custom recovery’,
how you install it, and what are some popular solutions.
Let’s start with the fact that every phone ships with stock
recovery software. Stock recoveries vary slightly between
phone makers, but they are identical in their essence - they
allow you to manually flash official updates and clear your
phone’s cache. Sounds limited? It is, and that’s why custom
Custom recoveries that we’ll flash here replace the limited
stock ones, adding all sorts of functionality to your phone.
Flashing a custom recovery is often a key part of the
rooting process, but that is not its only use. Here is a short
summary of all that you can do with a custom recovery:
Create and restore a backup image - A backup image
makes a copy of all your phone settings, application and
app data. Such a backup copy is crucial if your hacking
experiments fail - in such cases, you can use the
created backup image to restore your phone to a fully
functional earlier state without losing any data.
Flash custom ROMs - custom ROMs can completely
overhaul the looks and functionality of an Android
smartphone, and usually they are the main reason for
first flashing a custom recovery.
How to flash a custom recovery
Now that you know what a custom recovery is and what
it does, it’s time to go through some popular names of
recovery software. ClockworkMod (shortened to CWM)
and Team Win’s Recovery Project (commonly referred to
as TWRP) are the two most popular solutions, and while
the two differ slightly, they both have the essential features
USB drivers for your phone must be installed on a
computer. You can grab them from the official website
of the company that made the phone. Get the latest:
Samsung Android USB drivers here
HTC Android USB drivers (included in HTC Sync)
LG Android USB drivers here (go to “Software
updates” > Select your phone > Click on “Install USB
Sony Android USB drivers here
Motorola Android USB drivers (included in Motorola
Device Manager) here
Android SDK must be installed on your computer.
You can download from the official Android developer
Download the latest version of either CWM or
TWRP (we prefer CWM, but both work equally
well). For CWM go to this website, find your device,
and download the image for it:
Download it here
For TWRP go to this website, click on “Get TWRP
for your device” and type you device's name to download
the image for it:
Download TWRP here
Your phone must be connected to your computer via
USB. If you get stuck at some point in the tutorial, a
common fix is to try disconnecting the phone and re-
connecting it again.
How to flash a custom recovery (like
CWM or TWRP) on Android
1. Enable USB debugging on your Android device.
Connect your phone to a computer via USB.
2. Now, it’s time to open Command Prompt (terminal) and
Don’t worry, all you’d need to do is copy and paste some
code in it, it's not hard at all. To open the terminal in
Windows 7, hit the ‘Windows’ key, type ‘cmd’, and hit
in Windows 8, you’d need to navigate to the new
Modern UI home panel, and just type in ‘cmd’ there.
Once you open the terminal, you need to change the folder
to Platform Tools in the Android SDK. Typically, it
looks something like this, but you have to find the exact path
where you installed the Android SDK on your computer:
To change the folder you just copy the above path (as it is
on your computer) and put ‘cd’ in front of it, so the whole
command would look like so:
cd C:/Android SDK/adt-bundle-windows-
3. In the terminal
Enter the following:
Make sure your device is listed.
Next, type in:
adb reboot bootloader
Wait for the phone to reboot in bootloader mode.
4. Go to the platform-tools directory
Now, go to the platform-tools directory (a sub-directory
of the Android SDK), and open Command Prompt there
(you can do so by Shift + Right-click > Open Command
In the command line, enter the following:
Make sure that your device is listed.
Finally, type in:
fastboot flash recovery FILE.IMG
Replace ‘FILE.IMG’ with the recovery you want to
We have given you links for CWM and TWRP at
the beginning of the article, but if you've missed them, you
would need to download them now from the following links:
Download CWM here
Download TWRP here
Here’s how that recovery file name typically looks (this is
the image for a Moto G):
After you have flashed the recovery, it is crucial that you
you don't just reboot your device.
Go to ‘Recovery’ by
using volume down to scroll. Don’t scroll using the Volume
Up button! In this case, Volume Up serves as the ‘Select’
Once you have gone to ‘Recovery’, only then press
the Volume Up to boot in recovery mode.
If you don't follow these instructions, your device will
simply re-flash the stock recovery, and you’d have to start
all over with the custom recovery flash process.
And voila, that’s it! You now have custom recovery flashed
on your phone, congrats!
Note: You can use this how-to tutorial
guide to install custom recovery on phones
like the Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4,
Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 2,
HTC One (M8), LG G3, LG G2, Moto X, Mot