TWRP main screenThis is an expansion and update to our previous tutorial on how to create a Nandroid backup.

Creating a complete backup, also known as a Nandroid backup, of your rooted HTC EVO has been covered before, but since it's the greatest tool we have as owners, it's something that bears updating and repeating.

In simple terms, a Nandroid backup is a copy of your phone. If you're familiar with cloning or making a ghost image of your computer hard drive, then you already get the idea. It's more than just having a backup of your contacts and email; it's a complete copy of everything.

What is this means is that if you ever flash a bad ROM or get your EVO into a condition where it is unable to operate, in most cases you should be able to restore it back to working condition within about five minutes. I personally think this is the most awesome thing you can have in rooting: the ability to make a mistake, and then erase that mistake.

A Nandroid backup is done from a custom recovery. When you rooted your EVO, installing ClockworkMod was probably one of the steps. ClockworkMod is a custom recovery, which means it operates at a point before most of the phone software loads up. In other words, if you load a new ROM and are unable to boot it, you'll still be able to get into recovery by pressing power+vol down, then selecting recovery.

Although I am going to be talking about how to do this via TeamWin's recovery, the basics are the same for ClockworkMod and Amon Ra (EVO 4G).


Accessing the bootloader

On both the HTC EVO 4G and the HTC EVO 3D, you can access the bootloader by turning the phone off, then pressing and holding volume down and also pressing the power button. It should boot into HBOOT shortly after that. You can then select the bootloader/recovery using the up and down volume to highlight it and the power button to select it.

If you cannot access the bootloader, you may have to turn off Fast Boot (see section below).

Note to EVO 3D users: Depending on your HBOOT version, you may need to ensure that there is no PG86IMG.zip located in the root of your SD card in order to get to recovery. Leaving any PG86IMG.zip in the root will make recovery un-selectable. This was not the case on the EVO 4G with PC36IMG.zip.

Making a Nandroid backup (TWRP)

  1. Boot into the bootloader.
  2. Select recovery.
  3. Select Nandroid Menu.
  4. Select Backup Partitions.
  5. Check everything you can.
  6. Select backup.

Selecting everything is not required; you can get away without selecting cache, recovery, .android_secure, and sd-ext (which will most likely not be shown as an option). You don't have to select "Compressing backup" either but it saves about 50% of space and is currently only available on TWRP. 

You now have a Nandroid backup.

If you connect your EVO to your computer as a disk drive, you'll see a directory called TWRP, ClockworkMod, or Nandroid, and somewhere in there is a directory with today's date that is your current backup.

Restoring a Nandroid backup

  1. Boot into bootloader.
  2. Select backup/restore.
  3. Select which backup you want to restore.
  4. Sit back and watch it restore. Once complete, your EVO should be back to where it was when the Nandroid was made.

Something to note when restoring a Nandroid is that some of your newer programs and data may still appear due to recoveries not being overly destructive. I have recovered after flashing ROMs and discovered I had wallpaper or apps left from a previous ROM.  Sometimes certain applications stick, but these can be removed with no issues.

Saving space

Although having many backups is a good thing, having them all on your EVO may use up all the storage space. If you want to keep old backups of your phone around (e.g., your first backup ever in case you want to go right back to the beginning) but want more space, you can move them to your computer somewhere.

Note: Nandroids take up space, but they do not cause your phone to run slower. Removing them will not speed up your phone.

I have kept several different ROMs I loved in Nandroid form and have about 26 different backups sitting on my computer. I have no idea why now, but I had the space so they moved, and one time I had to restore an old ROM to figure out the name of a developer, but that's just me.

To move a Nandroid backup to your computer:

  1. Mount the phone as a disk drive while it's running.
  2. Browse to the directory containing your backups (e.g., f:TWRPBackupsHTC16EHXXxxxxor f:clockworkmodbackupor f:nandroid…). You will see a list of folders; each one is a Nandroid backup. ClockworkMod names the directories by year-month-day-time (e.g., 2011-10-01-20.55.35), while TWRP names them by month-day-year-time (10062011142254). All the folders should have the dates and timestamps visible via Windows, OS X, or any Linux client.
  3. Select the folder you want to move.
  4. Move it to wherever you want it on your computer. It's as simple as drag and drop.

You should always keep one good Nandroid backup on your phone just in case. Although it is possible to move a good Nandroid back to your EVO if your phone bricks itself, it involves pushing via recovery by using ADB. It's not fun. Well, okay, it is fun for some people, but it may not be fun for you.

Turning off Fast Boot (Sense 3.0+)

Fast Boot may need to be disabled to allow access to the bootloader. You can do this by selecting Menu > Settings > Power > Uncheck Fast Boot.

Fast Boot from that menu means a program that allows the HTC EVO 3D to boot extremely quickly and has nothing to do with fastboot under the bootloader.

Best Practices

Make a Nandroid before you flash a new ROM.

Clear the cache and Dalvik cache (via recovery) after a restore. You never know when that ROM you wanted to get rid of might turn up, causing issues with your restored ROM. Clearing these two caches makes your first boot after recovery significantly longer (up to 15 minutes); however, you eliminate any other-ROM weirdness.

Regularly make Nandroids so that weeks' worth of texts, contacts, etc. do not get lost. This does not apply if you're using Google Voice for texting.

Have fun and take some chances knowing you've got a safety net.