Nandroid Backup and Restore

As an Android user, one of the most important things that you must regularly do is to take backups. Android OS offers the user almost unlimited freedom to play with it. If you are rooted, it opens up new opportunities for you to try new ROMs and use more powerful apps.

While you are customizing your device, something may inadvertently snap – leaving your device totally messed up. It may enter a bootloop or just may not start. Whatever the reason for this undesired behavior, your apps and data might all be lost.

Why take the risk? Do a Nandroid backup now!

What is Nandroid Backup?

Before we tell you how awesome Nandroid backup is, let’s look at what it means. Nandroid backup is a complete backup of your phone. When we say complete, it means everything on your phone – your apps, data, your current ROM and even the kernel. It is like creating a full system image of your phone that can be restored later when required.

It is easy and convenient to make regular backups with Titanium Backup but it only backs up apps and data. Instead, if you do a Nandroid backup of your device, you can rest assured that your entire phone is safely backed up.

A point to note here is that your SD Card data is not backed up. The Nandroid backup itself is created on your SD card. Make sure you have sufficient space on your SD card to make a complete copy of your phone. Once the backup is done, manually copy it to your computer if you need it later.


1. Rooted Device:

You need root access to android device for this process. Besides here, there are several advantages of rooting and the application used in this process requires root access. If you are interested in backups, ROMs and kernels, chances are, you are already rooted. (Seriously, you are missing the best things about Android if you haven’t rooted your phone.)

Anyways, if you are not rooted, take a look at the list of various rooting tools for Android that we have compiled earlier. If you are on Froyo or Gingerbread, these tools are very useful.

If your phone is rooted, proceed to the next step. If it isn’t – go get yourself a root! (Pun intended)

2. Custom Recovery

You cannot do a backup of the OS while it’s running. The Nandroid backup process is carried out through recovery. The boot loader within the recovery enables you to take a backup of the OS while it’s not running.

ClockworkMod recovery is the most popular recovery. Install ClockworkMod recovery using Android ROM Manager and your preliminary setup is complete. You may install alternate recoveries as well, but you need premium version of ROM Manager for the app to work with any recovery other than ClockworkMod.

Update (10/12/12) – An alternative method of creating Nandroid backup without rebooting into recovery – Online Nandroid Backup

Steps to Perform a Nandroid Backup via Recovery and ROM Manager:

Backup and Restore via Recovery:

1. Boot into Recovery.

One way to boot into recovery is to run the ROM Manager app and choose the option to ‘Reboot into Recovery’. Else you can use CM7’s handy button combination chart for manual boot into recovery.

Personally, I prefer to use Quick Boot app for the purpose. It gives you one-touch option to Reboot, boot into Recovery or Bootloader and simply Power Off.


2. Select ‘Backup and Restore’ from the recovery screen.

Once you are in recovery, scroll down to the option ‘Backup and Recovery’ and select it. You can scroll up/down through the menu using the volume buttons and select options using the power button.


3. Start the backup.

Once you are on the Nandroid screen, select ‘Backup’ to start the backup process. You have the option to restore backup on the same screen.


Below images show the various stages of the backup process.


Be patient. The backup process may take a while.


4. Transfer the backup to your computer.

Once you reboot, you can see the backup in the ‘clockworkmod/backup/timestamp’ directory on your SD card. The contents of the backed up the folder as seen in the below image.

FIles in Nandroid Backup on SD Card - TechNorms

Save this folder on your PC safely.

That’s it! You have successfully completed your first Nandroid backup. The restore process is pretty similar. Let’s see the steps involved.

Restore from a Nandroid Backup via Recovery:

1. The first two steps are same as above. Boot into Recovery and navigate to the Nandroid screen.

2. Select ‘Restore’ to start the process.


If you choose the ‘Advanced Restore’ option, you can select which component of the backup to restore – like the boot, system, data or cache.


3. Reboot system. Your system is now restored and is exactly same as the time when the backup was taken.

Backup and Restore Using ROM Manager:

If you think the above process was easy, backup and restore through ROM Manager is even easier. ROM Manager automates the whole of the above process giving you the option to do these operations with a single touch. Just choose ‘Backup Current ROM’, enter a name for the backup and the phone reboots to start the backup process.


There, your backup is complete. To restore, launch the app and select ‘Manage and Restore Backups’. Select the backup that you want to be restored and ROM Manager will do the rest.

You can delete or rename the backups as well.


Final Thoughts:

Irrespective of whether you have any important data/apps on your phone, backups are essential. Nandroid backup is the most complete backup that you can do. When the process is so simple, there is really no reason for you to not do it.

Do a Nandroid backup and then you are free to do any experiments with your phone. Just be sure to do a bit of research before you take the plunge.

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