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How to create a full backup (Nandroid) of your rooted HTC EVO 3D or 4G

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 located in the root of your SD card in order to get to recovery. Leaving any in the root will make recovery un-selectable. This was not the case on the EVO 4G with

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.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

Avatar of Paul E King

27 thoughts on “How to create a full backup (Nandroid) of your rooted HTC EVO 3D or 4G

  • Avatar of AIRPOCALYPSE Loves You

    Man, great couple of days for a noob.

    So…Nandroid/ Titanium Backup….essentially the same thing?

  • Avatar of Pedram

    Not at all. A nandroid is a complete backup of the entire phone and operating system. TB is only a backup of applications.

  • Avatar of zenitram_27

    Would this be the equivalent of making a backup through RomManager?

  • What Pedram said – absolutely not. Titanium keeps backups of your programs and data at a certain date, but doesn’t back up your kernel, recovery, operating system for the most part.

    Basically, if you couldn’t boot into your phone and have it running normally you couldn’t run titanium backup. That makes it useless if you’re sitting at a white HTC screen.

    However, it’s great if you just need to back up a program, play around, restore it at a later time, freeze it…

    It’s not like I’m saying Nandroids are better than Titanium, it’s… you’re comparing car wax to a car manufacturing plant. Both are involved in shiny cars and are awesome, but they’re not the same.

  • ROM Manager runs ClockworkMod recovery, which in turn creates a Nandroid backup. So yes. Same thing in essence.

    However, assume that your phone just crashed now and you’re unable to get to ROM Manager. Or even to get the phone to boot. What are you going to do?

    Not saying don’t use ROM manager, but realize that if you have to recover after your phone goes mental, you’ll need to learn how to get into recovery as you will not be able to reach ROM Manager.

  • Avatar of deathmate

    So if I install a new ROM and install all the apps I want then a Nandroid backup will save all that including the installed apps?

  • Yes it will,but any app updates that are installed afterwards won’t be saved and you’ll have to re-install them if/when you use your nandroid. You can back up your apps occassionally with Titanium Backup and save yourself the headache of re-DLing all the updates.

  • TypePad HTML Email
    A nandroid will save everything but is very hard to pull individual apps, data, etc out of. Very few options, phone gets returned to the state it was in (however apps, data, etc looked) Titanium will save most apps and data, you can even pull out certain day’s backups of an app and data depending on how deep you have it set to.

  • Avatar of Dave T

    Make note that any Nandroid made with one specific recovery, amon ra, clockwork etc, will only work with the same recovery. So if you change recovery those old nandroids won’t restore.

  • Is there any advantage to TeamWin’s recovery vs. AmonRA’s?

  • TypePad HTML Email

    Transoms compresses the backup to about half the size

    Sent from my Evo3D

  • TypePad HTML Email

    It takes less than ten second to flash a recovery. If you can change it in the first place you should be able to change it right back.

    Sent from my Evo3D

  • Avatar of maxpowers

    From what you are saying, use ROM manager as an easy way to make a Nandroid back up but learn how to get into Recovery if your phone goes mental. Either method gives you a Nandoird back up right?

  • yes – ROM Manager = make a Nandroid backup the easy way.

    But, if your phone goes wonky, you won’t be able to get to ROM Manager to restore that backup, so you need to know how to operate from recovery.

    Both methods back up using the same low-level program

  • You guys are great thanks for the replies in the comments. I’ve found answers to my questions just from reading your replies.

    Rooting noob running virtuous unity on my touch 4g

  • Great Q & A , I have everything on my mind Answered :D

  • Avatar of richlindell

    I’m having a problem with step 5:installing the superuser binary. i downloaded the latest version but the SU file is no showing up when i go to recovery on the phone. if i open the SD card when it’s connected to my computer, i can see its right there? what’s the deal?

  • there is no installing the superuser binary step in this article (making Nandroid backups). If you’re not seeing it, perhaps it’s not a zip you downloaded, or there’s an error in the file allocation table (fix with checkdisk)

  • So, when I make a nandroid backup – does it overwrite a previous nandroid backup? Or do I need to find where backups are located and delete prior backups. I’m using unrevoked with a standard evo and I notice my sd card seems to be about full. I’ve probably made a backup once a month for about a year or two.

  • ok, nevermind. Found about 15 of them using root explorer (no computer) at the clockmod path and deleted the middle 10. Thanks. Great site.

  • I’m not sure what recoveries the Design uses, but the same basics would apply.

  • So to simplify things, am I correct to say both a Nandroid backup and a Titanium backup should be performed to ensure your phone is returned to a working condition or the condition you were at before the backups were performed?

  • Avatar of melody

    Just tried to recover my 3d and I keep getting a blank screen with a red computer symbol. Please help

    • Avatar of Paul E King

      you’re writing on an over a year old article. I’ll give you a couple of pointers, but I’m the only one who sees these old articles on a regular basis.

      Red triangle means you do not have a custom recovery installed, in which case you’ll need to install one.


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