What Is Android Recovery Mode?

What Is Android Recovery Mode?  In Android, recovery refers to the dedicated, bootable partition that has the recovery console installed.  A combination of key presses (or instructions from a command line) will boot your phone to recovery, where you can find tools to help repair (recover) your installation as well as install official OS updates. Because Android is open and has the recovery source code available, building a customized version with more and different options is relatively easy as well. Let’s look at both options.

The stock recovery is pretty limited, but that’s by design.  Its main purpose is to delete all or some user data and files, or to perform system updates manually with signed and verified delta update packages. Normally, both these operations are started from the running Android system, but you can do things manually and boot right into recovery yourself.  When you tell your phone to do a factory reset, recovery is what boots up and erases the files and data. Likewise with updates— when we restart to install an official OS update, it’s done in recovery. Recovery is also where we go to manually install official OS updates we’ve downloaded from the Internet. It’s very useful, but limited. Different manufacturers use different recovery methods but all perform the same basic functions — provide the tools needed to recovery a working system.

Custom Android recoveries offer much more. They have been coded to allow for backup and restore functions, selective deletion of data so you don’t have to wipe everything, and modified to allow update packages that have not been digitally signed by official sources. You also can mount various partitions so that you can copy files to the SD card without having to remove it or reboot into Android. Because of the extra functionality built in, they are a pretty important tool for folks who want to hack their Android phone or tablet. Recoveries aren’t as pretty as a custom ROM and don’t get the same love from users that custom builds of Android do, but in the end they’re even more important. Without them none of this custom ROM stuff would be possible. 
You can use Recovery mode to perform maintenance on your device, such as installing updates or apps from your SD card or backing up your data.
To enter recovery mode on your device, follow these steps:

  1. If your phone is on, turn it off.
  2. Press and hold the Volume up button and the Power button at the same time until the device turns on.
  3. Press the Volume down button to select “Recovery mode.”
    • If you need to navigate to the “Recovery mode” option, use the Volume up button to move the arrow and the Volume down button to select it.

Install an update from an SD card using Recovery mode

To use recovery mode to install an update on your device from an SD card, follow these steps:

  1. On your computer, download the update file and store it on your SD card.
  2. If your phone is on, turn it off.
  3. Insert the SD card containing the update file into your phone’s micro SD card slot.
  4. Enter recovery mode using the steps above.
  5. After a few seconds, your screen will say, “No command.”
  6. While pressing the Power button, press the Volume up button.
  7. In the menu that appears on your screen, press the Volume down button to highlight “apply update from sdcard” and press Power to select it.
  8. In the menu that appears on your screen, press the Volume down button to highlight the update file that you saved on the SD card.
  9. Press the Power button to select it and begin applying the update.
  10. Once the update has been successfully installed on your phone, use the volume buttons on your phone to highlight “reboot system now” and press the Power button to select it.
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