Owning an Android gadget is a forever exciting feel. For one, you get to tinker around for a whole year and nothing will ever fill the void of knowledge-base, and two, Android is exposed to a host of risks, so naturally, you want to protect that as best as you can.
While rooting your phone gives you complete control over the phone, TWRP custom recovery is a mandatory tool for rooted Android phones. For those devices that are still unrooted (seriously?!), you can now download the Official TWRP app from Google Play Store but most of the features would remain unusable.
Also, it comes with a fair word of warning that if you insist on using this app without understanding what you are up to, you could permanently brick your phone, so apply caution!
What is TWRP recovery?
TWRP is an open source custom recovery image for Android devices. It offers touch-enabled recovery that is easy to perform even by a beginner.
Recovery is a software (like Windows Recovery) that runs within the recovery partition. You can boot in it, access files even without needing to use your phone.
By default, when you receive a system update, it goes through the booting process that updates the OS in the stock recovery but this is inaccessible by the user on unrooted devices.
When you install TWRP custom recovery, the only other alternative being ClockworkMod Recovery, you replace the stock recovery with a custom recovery that gives you access to the device that was inaccessible before.
With a large support community on forums like XDA, the TeamWin Recovery Project (abbrv. TWRP) is the leading custom recovery for all Android devices.
Salient features of TWRP recovery:
- Flashing ZIP folders
- File managing capability
- Installing Kernels, SuperSU & GAPPS
- NANDroid backups & restores
- Compress backups
- Terminal console
- ADB sideloading
- Optional OTG mounting
- Themes support
Installing TWRP using Android App
TWRP team released an android app which easily allows you to install TWRP recovery. Your device needs to be rooted to be able to install TWRP using Android app.
Installing TWRP using ZIP File
You need to download a ZIP file that is TWRP APK from here.
Now, proceed to unzipping this file and connect your phone to a PC using the USB cable.
Then put the phone in fastboot mode.
To test if your phone has entered the fastboot mode, you need to hold down the shift key & right click.
Type adb devices in the command prompt window to see all the connected devices.
Go back to the folder and open the Flash.bat file and read the instructions that open in a separate window.
In a few seconds, you should be prompted with press any key to continue message which indicates that you have successfully flashed TWRP custom recovery onto your Android.
Reboot into Android
Once you open the TWRP app, from the main screen, just press Reboot to restart the system, Power Off to reboot Recovery or to boot to the Bootloader. This way, you get to access even a bricked device when you connect it to your PC with a USB cable. Although there won’t be any OS installed.
Making a Nandroid backup
Before tinkering with the new custom recovery, it is fundamental that you make a backup of whatever you had on the device before. This type of backup is called NanDroid.
From the home screen of TWRP, simply tap Backup to begin and leave the pre-selected folders for backup and swipe the slider towards the bottom to start the process.
Make sure that you backup your entire system which consists of the following partitions:
Do not ignore either one of them because these customary system files without which your phone will not function, regardless the OS.
What it does basically does is to create a whole stack of image files that the system can read and draw an inference from when you try to recover the device.
Now, Nandroids are nothing but a gallery of snapshots for the system to retrieve itself from any harm, so, naturally it is going to take quite a bit of space, just like your PC recovery drive does. Seeing how this is Android, you might want to copy a backup file on your computer too using the USB cable. Create a separate folder to not lose it, name it “TWRP/Backup” folder.
Other backup options
There are more than one form of backup options next to the backup tab. These would be Options and Encryption. The Options tab has three check boxes-
- Enable compression- If you are running low on storage (internal) then check the Enable compression to compress your backup files.
- Skip MD5 generation during backup- This creates MD5 hashes for all the files but you probably won’t need it since you will be backing up locally on the system storage (& also on your PC in the TWRP/Backup folder). Check this box.
- Disable free space check before backup- Unless you are sure that you have enough space on device to store backup files, check this box.
Encryption- The next tab is Encryption where you can set up a password to restore from the same backup.
Installin a ZIP folder or ROM
You can easily install any ZIP file you want by locating it in the internal storage. In TWRP framework, you will see the INSTALL button in place and you do not need any expertise to tap and begin installing any system file that you need. Select a storage unit and install image files like recovery.img directly.
Choose the storage location in internal memory, MicroSD card, USB OTG and press OK.
When you are flashing a ZIP, the installation allows you to add up to 10 files at once. You can add more ZIPS once at a time or clear the ZIP Queue as well. Finally, just swipe to the right to confirm your flash.
Here you can perform a factory reset on your device or even wipe selectively. Generally, it is advised to perform an advanced wipe on the device before flashing in any custom ROM.
This way you will be avoiding the earlier OS overlaps and any or all corrupt files will be eliminated from every corner of the device.
Once you tap on the Wipe feature, you will be asked to do a factory reset, but since this will wipe out your device’s internal memory, go for Advanced Wipe and select every checkbox except for internal storage and MicroSD card & USB OTG.
When you need to use the storage where you can install custom ROMs or repair or change file systems while facing problems with partitions, you need to perform a Wipe function. All the data from partitions will vanish after the factory reset or Advanced Wipe.
You should select the following options for Advanced Wipe, then swipe right to wipe.
- DALVIK/ART CACHE
Restoring an existing backup
If you had been tinkering around with a Mod and you accidentally bricked your device that cannot seem to boot the OS, it is time to perform a restore from an older backup.
From the TWRP’s main screen, tap the Restore button and you will see a list of all the recently made backups.
Tap once to choose the backup and you will be presented with available partition images to restore. Don’t touch any of them and proceed to restoring by swiping the slider.
On the Android OS, you might have set certain App permissions for the most frequently used applications.
These permissions may be affected as a result of flashing mods and installing root apps. Any system-level app would need permissions set in a particular manner in order to function the right way.
If it is not rightly done, you would experience app crashes or minor bugs.
In fact, when you install an app and it crashes a lot or contains a bug, the app makers tinker around in the backend and fix permissions to stop the crashing.
TWRP allows you to reset permissions the way system needs it.
From the main menu, tap Advanced then choose Fix Permissions from the subsequent menu.
Getting back to Android
To get out of the TWRP and head back to Android, simply tap the Reboot from the main menu, then tap System to boot back into Android.