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What Is ClockworkMod Recovery And How To Use It On Android


ClockworkMod, abbreviated as CWM, is a popular
custom recovery for Android phones and tablets
developed by Koushik Dutta (Koush) – a well-
known name in the Android dev community.
ClockworkMod recovery allows you to perform
several advanced recovery, restoration, installation
and maintenance operations on your Android device
that aren’t possible with the stock recovery, and is
one of the most common ways used to gain root
access, back up device data, install custom ROMs,
kernels, themes & mods, and more. However, for
anyone new to Android customization and hacking,
some of its options might prove to be a tad
confusing. In what follows, we will cover all that this
recovery is capable of doing, and how to do it.
About Android Recovery
All Android devices ship with a recovery console
that is basically a partition on the device’s internal
memory and can be booted into. The stock
recovery of almost all Android devices provides a
few basic yet handy options that allow you to
factory reset your device, clear its cache partition,
and recover its operating system using an official
ROM in zip format, but that’s all you can do with it.
That’s where a custom recovery comes handy.
A custom Android recovery basically replaces the
stock recovery with one that lets you do all you can
do with the stock recovery, plus a plethora of more
options to give you a lot more control on your
device. With a custom recovery, you can install
official and unofficial ROMs as well as other updates
including hacks, themes, kernels etc. using zip files,
wipe not just user data but pretty much every
standard partition on your device, mount the storage
card for USB mass storage access without leaving
recovery, partition your SD card, wipe dalvik cache
and battery stats, fix permissions, perform, manage
and restore backups, and so on.
Introduction To ClockworkMod
ClockworkMod recovery is one of the most widely
used custom Android recoveries that is available for most mainstream Android devices.
ClockworkMod recovery has been developed by
Koushik Dutta (also known as Koush) – the same
guy who brought us the Android ROM Manager . He
can be found at his blog hacking away at Android
devices, and at Twitter .
Installing ClockworkMod
For most devices, ClockworkMod has a dead
simple installation process. This method does
require you to fully root your device in order to be
installed but once rooted, installing it is as simple as
installing ROM Manager from Market, launching it
and using its first option i.e. the one that says ‘Flash
ClockworkMod recovery’.
However, in certain scenarios, the ROM Manager
method wouldn’t work, or would simply not be the
preferred method for your situation. In such cases,
there are several other methods available to install
ClockworkMod. We have covered the ROM Manager
method as well as all these alternative methods in
our guide on how to install a custom recovery to
your Android device

Once you have ClockworkMod recovery installed on
your Android device, booting into it is quite simple.
All you have to do is launch ROM Manager and tap
‘Reboot into Recovery’.
Also, if you have ADB installed on your computer,
you can simply enable USB debugging mode on
your device from Settings > Applications >
Development, connect it to your computer via USB,
launch a Command Prompt / Terminal window on
your computer and enter this command:
adb reboot recovery
The above methods will not work in certain cases
though, for instance if you can’t boot into Android in
the first place due to some issue, or if you are
using a device like the HTC HD2 that doesn’t
natively support an Android recovery. Many
solutions are available in these cases.
Using hardware button combination on most
Android devices:
On most Android devices including ones by HTC,
you can enter recovery by powering your device
off and then powering it back on while keeping
either the ‘Volume Down’ or the ‘Volume-Up’
button pressed, depending on the device. This
will enter the bootloader from where you can
select the ‘RECOVERY’ option by navigating to it
with the Volume key and entering it with the
‘Power’ key.
On most Samsung devices specifically Samsung
Galaxy S series devices, you must keep both the
‘Volume-Up’ and ‘Home’ keys pressed while
powering on the device, to directly enter
Using MAGLDR on HTC HD2:
Entering ClockworkMod recovery on the HTC
HD2 can’t be done via ROM Manager or any
hardware button combination but that doesn’t
mean it is difficult in any way. All you have to do
is power the device off, power it on by keeping
the Power key pressed till you see the MAGLDR
bootloader’s menu and finally selecting the ‘AD
Recovery’ option.
Feature Tour
Now that you have ClockworkMod recovery up and
running on your phone or tablet, let’s take a look at
all the options it offers you to manage your Android
device. We are using a Nexus S running
ClockworkMod Touch recovery but the
details should apply to other devices and versions
of the recovery as well.
If you are using ClockworkMod Touch recovery,
you can simply tap on these options to navigate
between different sections and perform all the
actions. On the non-touch versions of the recovery
though, you can navigate between items using the
Volume-Up and Volume-Down button, and use the
‘Power’ button to enter/launch the highlighted option
on most Android devices. On devices equipped with
a trackball or an optical track pad such as the G1,
G2, Nexus One, HTC Desire etc., the trackball or
track pad can be used for navigation and clicking it
activates the selected option. Let’s review each of
these options and their sub-menu options in detail
1. reboot system now
This one is self-explanatory.
2. install zip from sdcard
1. choose zip from sdcard
Lets you install any zip file from any
location on your SD card. The file can
be for a ROM, a kernel, an application,
a theme or any mod as long as it is in
recovery-flashable zip format. This is
the most widely used option for
installing a ROM that you have
downloaded and copied to your SD
card. Entering this option will bring up
a screen that will allow you to browse
your SD card for the zip file and
select it for installation.
2. apply /sdcard/update.zip
This option can be used for
installation of any official or unofficial
update, ROM, kernel etc. that is in a
zip format installable from recovery,
as long as the file is named
update.zip and it has been placed on
the root of your SD card (i.e. not in
any sub-folder).
3. toggle signature verification
This turns the signature verification
on and off. When signature
verification is on, you will not be able
to install any custom ROMs that
haven’t been digitally signed to allow
installation on the device (most
custom ROMs aren’t signed).
Switching it off skips the signature
verification check and proceeds with
the installation.
3. install zip from sideload
This option puts the phone into the new ADB
sideload mode, allowing you to install zip files
from your computer using the ADB sideload
command introduced in Android 4.1 Jelly
4. wipe data/factory reset
This option wipes all user data on the device
as well as cache. Doing this will leave your
phone in the state it was in when you bought
it or when any custom ROM was first
installed. It will also wipe any sd-ext partition
that you might have setup (more on this later)
. Selecting pretty much any operation in
ClockworMod (including this one) will bring up
a confirmation prompt that can save you from
a lot of potential trouble in case you
accidentally select the wrong operation.
5. wipe cache partition
Wipes the cache partition of the device to
clear all the data accumulated there over use.
This is often used before installing a new
ROM, app, kernel or any similar mod via
6. backup and restore Undoubtedly one of the
most important features provided by a
custom recovery, the backup and restore
feature – also known as Nandroid backup –
allows you to take a snapshot of your phone’s
entire internal memory including all partitions,
and save it on the SD card. Here is how it
1. backup
Takes a full backup of your device, as
explained above.
2. restore
Lets you restore a previously taken
backup. Entering this option presents
you with a list of existing backups
from the SD card that you can choose
from for restoration.
3. delete
Lets you delete a previously taken
backup to free up space on your SD
4. advanced restore
This option is similar to the Restore
option but once a backup has been
selected to be restored, this option
allows you to choose the parts of it to
restore. You can choose to restore
the boot, system, data, cache and sd-
ext partitions, as shown here:
CWM Advanced Restore
5. free unused backup data
Lets you reclaim space on your SD
card by freeing up any redundant
backup data that isn’t required.
6. choose default backup format
Allows you to choose between ‘tar’
and ‘dup’ for the backup format.
Leave this one as it is, unless you are
sure you want to change it.
CWM Backup Format
7. mounts and storage
Allows you to perform maintenance tasks on
all the internal and external partitions of your
android device
CWM Mounts & Storage
1. mount/unmount /system, /data, /
cache, /sdcard or /sd-ext
These options let you toggle between
mounting or unmounting these
respective partitions. Most users
don’t need to change these options.
2. format boot, system, data, cache,
sdcard or sd-ext
These let you directly format any of
these partitions. Take extreme care
with this option as formatting any of
these partitions will result in losing all
data on them, especially the boot and
system partitions. Formatting the
system partition will remove your
ROM and leave your phone without an
operating system while wiping the
boot partition may brick your phone
unless you restore or flash another
one before rebooting your device. To
learn more about the contents of all
these partitions, see our guide to
Android partitions .
3. mount USB storage
Lets you enable USB mass storage
mode for your SD card right from
recovery so that you can connect it to
your computer via USB and transfer
any files to/from it without having to
leave recovery.
8. advanced
This section contains a few options most
users will not require, though these can come
handy quite often, especially wiping Dalvik
cache, which is required before most ROM
installations. Here are the options from this
CWM Advanced
1. reboot recovery
Lets you directly and very
conveniently reboot from recovery
right back into recovery. This is
useful option for certain back-to-back
installations that require the device to
at least boot once between them.
2. wipe dalvik cache
Allows you to wipe the cache for the
Dalvik virtual machine (the custom-
built Java virtual machine for Android)
.This is required before most ROM
installations and at other occasions
too, for fixing some problems.
3. wipe battery stats
Wipes the saved battery usage
statistics and effectively recalibrates
the battery. Useful in various
scenarios when Android isn’t showing
correct battery levels. This option is
not shown in the above screenshot,
but is present in many versions of
ClockworkMod recovery.
4. report error
In case of errors, this feature can be
used to save a log of recent
ClockworkMod recovery operations
on the SD card that you can later
report from Android using ROM
5. key test
Lets you press any of the hardware
keys to see if they are properly
functioning, and to see their key
6. show log
Shows you a log of your recent
recovery operations.
7. fix permissions
Fixes the file permissions for the
internal memory partitions back to
default. This is very useful as a fix for
several errors and Force-Closes that
start appearing after you or an
application you installed and provided
root access end up messing up the
permissions of important files.
8. partition sdcard
This option gives you a no-frills way
to partition your SD card properly for
use with ROMs that support data2ext
(a very handy hack for low internal
memory devices that enables an /sd-
ext partition on the SD card to be used
as the internal user data storage i.e.
as the /data partition). Once this
option is selected, you will be given
options to choose the sizes for the /
sd-ext partition as well as an
optional /swap partition on the SD
card, and will then automatically
format it for you, leaving the
remaining space for normal SD card
usage. This option will wipe all data
from your SD card so use it with
Using ClockworkMod For ROM, Kernel, Apps,
Theme Or Mod Installation
While in the complete feature tour we have already
shown you how to install a ROM, kernel, app, theme
or any similar mod from a recovery-flashable zip
file using the recovery options, those of you who
jumped straight to this section expecting to get just
this information quickly are at the right place!
This guide is primary focused on a full feature tour
of ClockworkMod recovery but in our previously
written guide on how to flash a ROM or app from a
zip to an Android device file from recovery
, we have already covered in detail how to use
ClockworkMod for installing any ROM, kernel, app,
theme or mod using a recovery-flashable zip file.
While that guide is based on an older version of
ClockworkMod recovery, everything in it still
applies to the latest versions and should work
That’s all there is to ClockworkMod recovery so far.
We hope you enjoy using it as much as we do!
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