One of the many benefits of Android devices is that most manufacturers don’t limit them to a single operating system, so you can manually customize your phone by flashing a specific custom ROM. However, it doesn’t come without its fair share of downsides — ranging from losing your complete data to essentially bricking your phone, making it completely unusable (well, unless you intend to sell it for parts).
With all of this in mind, simply taking preemptive measures and backing up your data can go a long way in ensuring a safe, carefree flashing process. In this article, we’ll go over the methods you can use to back up your data before flashing a custom ROM.
Table of Contents
- Why is Backing Up Your Data Before Installing a ROM Important?
- 1. Backup via Google One
- 2. Manually Backing up to a PC/Laptop
- 3. Backup via Custom Recovery
Why is Backing Up Your Data Before Installing a ROM Important?
More often than not, installing a custom ROM is different from updating your existing operating system, in that it does not always allow for a dirty flash. In most cases, you will need to clean flash the ROM, which means that all of the data on your phone will be wiped out completely. This includes your contacts, messages, photos, and app files.
1. Backup via Google One
Since installing a custom ROM is synonymous with Android devices, and almost all of them use Google services, the most straightforward and surefire way to back up your data is through Google One. This service saves all of your data to the cloud associated with your account, and whenever you set up a new device, you will have the option to restore your data from this cloud backup.
We have a detailed article that delves into other ways of backing up your data, but for now, keep in mind that the basic, free plan is limited to 15GB of storage. If your data exceeds this limit, you will need to pay to increase the storage on your Google account.
Steps to Back-Up Your Data via Google One
To backup your data via Google One,
- Open the Google One app (download it via the Play Store; link below the image)
- Select “Set up” under Backup.
- Tap on “Back up now“
IMPORTANT: If you have access to an external SD card, or a USB (connect it using an OTG cable) make sure that you copy all of the contents of your phone onto an external, physical storage, since Google One won’t copy all of the data stored on your phone.
2. Manually Backing up to a PC/Laptop
While services like Google One have significantly streamlined the way data is backed up, they are not always the most reliable. There is a chance that they won’t store all your data on the cloud, and it is possible that your phone simply contains a large amount of data, possibly exceeding the 15GB limit.
It’s also understandable how you don’t want to pay monthly to buy more storage for something that you’ll probably not keep for long, so the next-best option is to manually back up your data to your PC. This way, you’ll be satisfied that everything on your phone is properly backed up, and you can easily retrieve any file you need in the future.
Manual Backup, Manual Set-Up
The one huge drawback to manually copying your files onto your PC is that when you set up your device after installing the ROM, it’ll be as empty as a new phone; none of your data will be transferred including photos, apps or settings — all of these will then have to be done manually, which would again require a lot of time.
To learn how to do this, refer to our in-depth guide that focuses on backing up your Android phone to your PC, be it Windows or Mac.
3. Backup via Custom Recovery
If you are installing a custom ROM for the first time, or are switching to a new ROM, you would require some sort of a custom recovery to do so. If you don’t already know, custom recovery is an alternate boot mode on your phone that opens a simple console on your phone to perform basic actions like formatting your phone, updating/installing a file, or even taking a backup.
Most Custom Recoveries Support Backups
Some of the most popular custom recoveries like TWRP (Team Win Recovery Project), OFRP (Orange Fox Recovery Project) and PBRP (Pitch Black Recovery Project) allow you to take a backup of everything on your phone, so in a case where you fail to install/update a file, or something goes wrong (which, believe it or not happens more frequently than one may think), you always have something to rely and fall back on.
IMPORTANT: Since installing a ROM mostly requires you to completely format your device, please make sure that your you don’t make a backup within the internal storage, since that would defeat the whole purpose of performing the procedure. Make sure that you have an external storage, preferably an SD card, or a USB alongside an OTG connector with ample of space to store the backup file.
Steps to Back Up Your Data via TWRP
To backup your data using TWRP, follow the steps below:
- Boot into your phone’s recovery.
- Find “Backups” and tap on it, and select the data you want to keep.
- Export it to a physical external storage.
Once your data is backed up externally, it can easily be retrieved in the future—think of it as a System Restore point, but for an Android phone. We’ve discussed TWRP, but the image below shows where you’ll find the backup options on some of the other custom recoveries. The procedure for all of them is essentially the same.
While there are plenty of ways to backup your data before installing a ROM, make sure that you are completely sure that your data is safe before you start the flashing process because once your data is lost this way, there is no easy way to recover it.
Anywhere but the internal storage, since it’ll be wiped off when you install the ROM.
Well, backup the important data via Google One, and as a precautionary measure, copy all of your files into an external drive. Additionally, if you’re unsure of the flashing process, or are doing this for the first time, I’d highly recommend backing up your ROM too through the custom recovery.
No, your data will simply be wiped off, and will not affect the flashing process.