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.

Pre-requisites:

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.

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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.

reboot-recovery-rom-manager-quickboot

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.

clockworkmod-recovery-menu

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.

nandroid-backup-restore

Below images show the various stages of the backup process.

nandroid-system-data-backup

Be patient. The backup process may take a while.

nandroid-backup-md5-check-sum

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.

restore-nandroid-backup

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

advanced-nandroid-restore-options

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.

nandroid-backup-rom-manager

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.

restore-nandroid-rom-manager

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.

See Also:

52 COMMENTS

  1. […] Originally Posted by lostsoul1 well.. I read about that in my search and its not there.. I tried to search windowns contacts and that failed.. but later for the shit of it I tired contact alone in the search box and bam.. it came up. of course there are no new numbers because HTC doesn't sync to it. Not matter what I do its grayed out.. ohh well.. at least I got everything backed up EXCEPT all the system stuff. Only thing im finding about doing a backup is that you have to be Rooted to do a Nandroid backup. Here is some info on that. How to Create Nandroid Backup & Restore it to your Android Device | TechNorms.com […]

  2. when restoring from nandroid backup. is the partition (system, data or the one I am restoring) formated? or the files on the phone are just replaced with the ones from the backup?

  3. need help!!
    when i hit back current ROM on rom manager, it reboot the phone only, i dont see android backing up the files as it show in the article. 

  4. Hy all, I have a little problem with my Huwaei Ascend g300, when I go to the bootloader, I dont have some optints, I have the first five options, so I dont have backup and restore, my device is rooted, and i downloaded the flash recovery too, and when i go to the backup current rom, it goes to bootloader, and I dont have any idea what is can do, I need backup asap. pls help me

  5. help! i cant boot into recovery everytime i do i end up with a triangle with an exclamation mark in it next to and android figure. What did i do wrong? I have taken out the battery but everytime i do it that happens. Any Ideas? Thanks.

  6. Hi, I was trying to make a back up of original ROM supplied with the mobile using ROM Manager Clockwork recovery.. after i clicked on Backup current ROM, the mobile rebooted, and i am unable to establish a data connection can, any body help….

    • If you are rooted and have CWM installed, you can make a nandroid backup of your stock rom which is rooted. To go back to stock completely (non-rooted) you need a stock rom and flash it with Odin.

  7. When doing a nandroid through cwm it puts you at the exact state you were at the time of backup …..(rom, kernel, modem, ) just exact as if you turned your phone off and then back on right?

    So my question is .

    Say I’m on Cm10 nd I do a backup …then I take the appropriate steps (flash back to el26 or el29 direct boot or safe kit or whatever method 1 might use)

    i wipe all 3, run calk all format, flash new rom.

    Say i flashed to blend ics rom (do a nandroid for that rom)

    Well the next day I want to go back to cm10

    Can I just go to cwm nd restore the backup I did on cm10(safely)?

    Does it put me right back on cm10 with no need to flash the whole process again if I wanted to switch between the two roms?

  8. is unlocking the bootloader needed for CWM?? please i need to know…

    and is CWM works well in sony experias?? cause there were many thread in the internet that CWM bricks their SE phones… thanks in advance..

    • You can use an alternate recovery like Amon-ra. Check the section of XDA for your phone to see what recovery people recommend. A recovery does require having an unlocked bootloader.

      • Bladesman1889 – Are you referring to the guys’ photo with a headphone? It’s the general image we have for commentators who do not have an avatar.

        I understand how that can be confusing, but we hated the generic default avatar image. Any suggestions to sort this are welcome. Thanks.

        • Ah ok, Sorry that’s me being a dumbass noob 🙂
          Maybe it could be stamped on the image (down the side, along the top/bottom etc) “DEFAULT IMAGE or DEFAULT AVATAR”

          • Great guide btw, I’m looking for simple easy to read/ follow guides to recommend to android newcomers. There seems to be lots of them around asking for advice – yet when asked why are you not searching and learning they say the guides are to complicated.

            Maybe they’re just lazy, but since I started with android 3+ yrs ago things have got so much easier. Take for example: Toolkits – there’s no learning involved – until the TK doesn’t do what it should then they haven’t a clue about what has gone wrong or how to fix & then flood the forum with cries for help “help, I’ve bricked my phone”

            Anyway I like the quality of this guide with nice clean pictures & simple instructions so I will bookmark & link to it when I get pm’d by some desperate noob.

            :–)

          • I am glad to hear that you found this guide easy to follow and delighted to know that you’d recommend this to newbies. We are comparatively a new blog, and any such support is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

            Kyle, who wrote this article is the senior author on our team. He is a huge Android fan and keeps a great balance when it comes to instructions and presentation. He likes to keep it simple and hence always gets good results. 🙂

  9. hello sir plz help me i have a52 rooted phone in past day unfortunately moved phone.apk from system/app to sd card due to this my both sim network gone and nothing display on status bar and not recieve and not making call

  10. I use ROM manager to take Nandroid backup of my lg optimus one p500. I just clicked on “Roboot in Recovery” and after confirmation my phone got rebooted and now I have the phone in the state I purchaged. Everything is gone. No app, no contact, no messages. As mentioned in your post, I thought clockworkmod recovery will be there when you install ROm Manager but seems it was not there. Or I don’t know why recovery console didn’t appear and I just got fresh new phone as gift for my this adventure.

  11. Very Nice illustrative instructions…Thanks a lot…I was trying to back up using ONLINE NANDROID…but it gave error message…so I used your article and it was a success…Thanks again…

  12. i dont have the boot.img or the recovery.img in my backup folder, i am using sony ericsson live with walkman wt19i
    here are the names of all the files i have after running a nandroid backup –
    1- .android_secure.vfat.tar
    2- cache.yaffs2.img
    3- data.yaffs2.img
    4- nandroid.md5
    5- system.yaffs2.img

    i hav a locked bootloader and ics and installed cwm from xparts

  13. I always take nandroid bacup because as a mistake yoou brick your phone sometime you cant recover it by formatting.Nandroid bacup is like a time machine!

  14. Instead of having a data.ext3.tar I have a data.ext4.tar with 0Byte, a data.ext4.tar.a with ca. 950000Byte and a data.ext4.tar.b with ca. 750000Byte. After transferring the backup to my PC I can only inspect the data.ext4.tar.a file.
    What does that mean? What do I have to do to get a full and intact backup to restore?

    • Hey that is because the data.ext4 is too big to fit in one tar ball. So its split in a and b part. To untar it you just need to cat them all and run tar xvf

  15. My USB on the phone is broken, my OS is not starting up. Isn’t there a rom anywhere built for “Android Recovery” I have been searching for days.

  16. Is this post still alive?
    Suppose I am using CM11 (Kitkat 4.4.4) I took a Nandroid backup. Now I installed CM12 (Lollipop 5.0). If my modem is not working in CM12, can I revert back to CM11 using nandroid restore? Will the Modem be restored as well? Because I heard nandroid doesn’t takes a modem backup. And after installing CM12 the structure would be changed. Please help me in clearing my doubt.

    • Hello Veer. The modem is not backed up in a Nandroid backup, and cannot be restored this way. You would have to search and flash a compatible modem for CM12 or revert to CM11, search for a compatible modem and flash it.

  17. After NANDROID restore I cant see my images in gallery, I have tried clearing cache from settings without much luck. Any suggestions to get my gallery filled up?
    Thanks

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