FeaturesGood and EVO

Understanding the difference between Nandroids and Titanium Backup

WpBvAblyjArrU04OINxQmiB1rksnxhdFwCHtTb0-QUAOy4o9iXGJddAm2ogYOD6Irew[1]Rooted HTC EVO users have often asked us which is better: Titanium Backup or Nandroid backups. The answer is neither and both.

They do not do the same job.

Titanium Backup can back up your apps/data on a schedule, as well as compress and restore multiple instances of data and applications. Titanium does a ton of other stuff as well, such as freeze or remove bloatware and fix access permissions. It will probably work for most backup and recovery scenarios you could envision with one exception: if your ROM won't boot (which can happen if you remove a vital system component using Titanium). If your ROM is dead, you can't run Titanium and can't restore whatever you deleted that's killed your ROM.

Nandroid backups generally back up the entire running state of the phone. If you make a Nandroid backup now and brick the phone by using Titanium to kill something you shouldn't have, restoring said Nandroid from recovery mode (before the phone boots) will get you back to running.

Titanium Backup is significantly faster than Nandroids after the first backup has completed, as generally it only will touch recently modified apps and data, and you don't change every piece of data on your phone on a daily basis. It can also be scheduled to run while you're asleep, ensuring that you have nightly backups of all your text messages, Angry Birds progress, etc. Backups can be compressed in the app automatically to save SD card space.

On the other hand, Nandroids have not been something you can schedule. They are something you have to sit down and initiate manually. When they're done, on most recoveries you have to select to reboot your phone, and historically they have not compressed the data (the newer recoveries do). A Nandroid is something you have to do.

Personally, I use both. I have Titanium Backup scheduled to back up all my apps and data on a nightly basis. This way if I lose the ROM or just flash a new one, I don't lose my progress in all my games and I don't have to re-configure all my social apps. I generally make a Nandroid before I do a major change to the phone, such as upgrading or switching ROMs, as those are the times when taking that 6-10 minutes is worth it.

Restoring a Nandroid generally puts the phone in the exact state it was in when you made the Nandroid. There are exceptions to this generality; however, I'm really not going to go into issues with kernel restoration on HBOOT 1.50 unlocked EVO 3Ds or quirks with ClockworkMod or other recoveries.

It used to be a Nandroid backup was an all-or-nothing event, then programs such as Nandroid Browser came to market that now allow you to pull individual data and apps out. These don't mean that Titanium Backup has been or is being replaced; it's just that one of the many, many features has been somewhat duplicated. You still have to take the time to make a Nandroid, during which your phone is off and unsuable. With Titanium it is up and running and you can make and receive calls.

Also, if Titanium were to make and keep three historical backups of a 14MB app/data, you could figure the storage use would be no more than 42MB. Were you to make three Nandroid backups, however, you're looking at maybe 500MB a pop for a full image, or about 1.5GB total. Then again, Titanium doesn't make backups of system components such as the kernel, wpa_supplicant, drivers, etc.

Both are great pieces of software, and if I had to choose just one, it would be Nandroid because quite honestly I would not have a working phone if I hadn't made some of those backups before installing ROMs of questionable stability. However, Titanium has ensured that under very, very few circumstances will I lose my old apps and data, even if I didn't install or restore them to whatever ROM I just installed.

I have some software from my HTC EVO 4G that made the leap to my EVO 3D via Titanium that occasionally I will bust out, and that's something you haven't been able to claim with Nandroids (although I suppose Nandroid Browser and such changes that).

Learn how to make and restore Nandroid backups, though. This could really save your rear end some day. Titanium is cool and useful as all get-out when you get right down to it, but it's not going to save you if your phone won't boot, and that's the only legitimate fear root users need to worry about.

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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

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19 thoughts on “Understanding the difference between Nandroids and Titanium Backup

  • If someone doesn’t already know this though, they shouldn’t be rooting/flashing custom ROMs in the first place.

    Reply
  • Avatar of biker1

    Excellent article!
    I use both, in addition to MyBackup Pro.
    I use the latter for data back up, as I started using it before Titanium.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Bryan

    Josh,
    You have to learn somewhere. G&E keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • Avatar of Nu2Root

    What are the newer recoveries that will compress the backups that he mentioned?

    Reply
  • There’s an Amon RA fork that does them

    TWRP 1.0.1 I believe added it, I know 2.0 has them.

    Reply
  • The problem, as I see it, is there’s an overwhelming amount of information. If people completely researched and got up to speed on everything, you’re talking about 20-30 pages of reading before you even get to rooting the device. And that’s if you can find the correct info, which I think most people go off rooting with at least something wrong.

    Add to the fact the countless number of people who think “hey, I’m going to write a newbie’s guide to doing all of this” that then write one that works… for that month… and then it’s outdated, left up on the internet with no date stamped saying “all of this is ancient garbage now” forever to give out bad information.

    This is just something that’s not been covered on this site, it’s current, and will fit into the state of root guide at some point when it’s updated (no real need to at the moment). As such, should anyone be reading G&E’s state of root, it will be in the learning section, and as such a pre-root tutorial.

    A *lot* of people follow the steps: unlock, create nandroid, root, get titanium, freeze bloat. They’ll never look back at step 2 or know what to do as they’re at step 5 and that’s all they wanted – to freeze some bloat.

    It could be months down the line they’ve been rooted with no problems and that’s just a question… we see it every month, someone asks that, now there’s a link we can say “read this.”

    Personally, I’ve always been about trying to make rooting a bit easier of a choice for people to make, and, having one of the hundreds of newbie root guides on the internet I can include this.

    Sorry if I don’t make sense, on the freaking phone and realized I’d been typing and talking for a while now. Short of it is if they don’t know it before or after rooting, they know it now.

    Reply
  • I understood exactly what you mean. The only thing I disagree with is people actually reading. Nobody reads anymore. They go and do it, then run begging for help once they realized that they may have gone wrong somewhere. It irritates me beyond belief.

    Reply
  • (fairly long post, just philosophy, no flame retardant suit required)

    well, point up there, why would they read if they’re running across 200 pages of garbage on the net and 300 step-by-step guides for different phones, different years/months/hboots/etc they’re not going to read much past “steps 1-5: do this, you’re rooted”

    Going to say in this case, just ignore the people who irritate you… someone else will help them, they’ll turn around and help someone else some day. Irritation leads to anger, anger leads to darkness, darkness leads to quoting Yoda.

    My rooting experience frustrated the crap out of some people. I had demon issues (I shudder to think what I thought in 2010), but people helped till we managed to figure out it was a bad SD card and an incorrect FAQ. I got told to shut up and read the same bad information a lot of times.

    These are whole computer systems that we’re carrying around running Linux kernels, hardware that just 10 years go would have taken the space of a desktop. And we’ve given them to people as a telephone with toys. Anyone wanting them to not be a toy has a lot to learn, and since nobody is setting up a classroom for this, it’s public learning by trial and error, and what you need to learn depends a lot on what you want out of the phone.

    I don’t know, I guess I always have thought that not helping and not writing down how to make these things into major amazing tools… well, that way leads to the counterproductive thinking of “it just works” or “RTFM – what, there is no FM? Figure it out”. I try and provide a bit of the FM, and if I’m excessively annoyed I remember fidonet: “Do not excessively annoy others, nor be excessively annoyed,” and walk away.

    But, that’s just my philosophy – karmic help wheel. Raise someone up, make everything better.

    Man I need to get more sleep

    Reply
  • I’ve only used MyBackup Pro. Can anyone provide pros or cons between that and Titanium Backup?

    Reply
  • I’m not denying that, but if someone does the research (as they should have in the first place) – they will learn better doing it properly on their own. I understand that not everyone is tech savvy, but if you aren’t tech savvy, why are you rooting to begin with?

    Reply
  • Don’t get me wrong. I like to help others, but I prefer to help those who want to be helped. For example, I can’t help someone who can’t even clearly describe what the problem is. You always get the “omg it just isn’t working” shenanigans.

    Reply
  • And what I’m stating is that you can’t research our phones properly because there’s so much garbage out there. Was just over on another site and someone posted a link to a page to root the EVO 4G that’s been out of date since before I rooted in 2010.

    If you’ve rooted and have tried and failed, yes, you can do research, but as it stands no, you can’t. There’re threads filled with 100 people saying “yes this works” and yes, it worked 7 months ago. Nobody takes down all those “yes this works” pages

    Reply
  • Some people want to do some of those things and don’t want to become specialists in understanding the Android operating system.

    That should be possible. I should be able to have my battery charge show as a percent instead of a tiny green battery in the status bar without rooting my phone. Or use Titanium Backup. Or any number of other things. In my opinion, every phone should be delivered rooted.

    I had rooted my Evo 4G. When it came time to root my Evo 3D I read about revolutionary. But no, I now had to use HTC’s method. But it was also a question whether I had hboot 1.4 or 1.5. I thought rooting always resulted in S=off but I ended up with S=on. Was my phone rooted? This ended up being a very complex and time-consuming process. All together I think I spent two entire days reading the various guides online, watching YouTube how-tos repeatedly because the person explaining spoke quickly or didn’t make each step really clear and understandable. My girlfriend was surprised how tenacious and patient I was. It should not be this difficult. There certainly is a huge market for an app that does it all automatically.

    An elitist, arrogant attitude is certainly not helpful in getting the masses to root their phones. Two days ago there were 26 pages of comments and questions on XDA on how to install the OTA update to rooted Evo 3Ds. And it wasn’t exactly encouraging to see people that have several years’ experience flashing roms and have posted comments more than 1,000 times brick their phones and begging for help.

    Someone apparently learned the difference between a nandroid and Titanium backup before some others. Please don’t look down on them because they didn’t learn at the same time as you did. Every year there is a new first grade. That is also the case with Android phones.

    Reply
  • Well, don’t help them. Let others jump in and say “you’ve provided no useful information, it will continue not working until such time as you do”

    Got a lot of people who do want help and are just reading the wrong places, old info, etc. There’s no “hubofrootevo4g.com” that contains all information updated on a daily basis with links to “this is all fake, old, outdated information”

    Reply
  • I do very much enjoy the “every year there’s a new first grade” – mind if I steal it for the next state of root?

    Reply
  • First part of my comment didn’t go through. Read this first please:

    This morning after reading the article “Nandroid Browser browses Nandroid backups for individual extraction” I posted the question: “I would be interested in knowing the difference between a nandroid and a Titanium backup.

    I have a E3d rooted with HTC’s method, hboot 1.5, S on, Olympus Trinity XE rom.
    01/18/2012 at 06:30 AM”

    A little later Paul wrote this article “Understanding the difference between Nandroids and Titanium Backup”. Coincidence?

    Technology is something that I very much enjoy. My first computer was a Commodore 64 and then I moved to DOS and later Windows. I always wanted to get into Linux but programs that I needed weren’t available for it so I am illiterate in that operating system. I’ve often taught people that used computers daily some of the basics of DOS and Windows. Often they were afraid that they could do something to ruin their computers. Aside from typing Format C: there was little chance of them really messing things up. I helped them understand their computers so that they felt comfortable using them.

    Unfortunately manufacturers and carriers have decided to block access to various features of our phones that we all have in our computers even though we are the ones paying for the phones.

    Reply
  • Well, reading the legal/TOS, Crowdgather is allowed to reproduce or display your comment, I guess I am considered an agent of them. That does not, however, mean I would reproduce it without asking permission since I’ve never heard it before.

    Actually, reading further in the legal, this is not a public domain, it’s a private domain in public – evidently with shared IP rights. Also it might be considered under the “infringing on user generated content”.

    But mostly I just wanted to not steal it and claim it as my own as that would be rather dickish of me.

    Reply
  • That is very considerate of you Paul. You are a good man doing a great job here helping people.

    Although I’m frequently a literalist and enjoy playfully taking people’s comments very literally, I wasn’t being quite that literal about this being a public domain. But thanks for looking into it.

    My comment “Every year there is a new first grade” was a spontaneous idea to express that in every field there is a constant influx of new people. They come with a desire to learn and do something new. The third-graders, eighth-graders, seniors and college grads should not disdain them but rather welcome the new blood that comes in. Among these will be the future leaders, creative geniuses and developers that will bring us to new and broader levels. But they need help getting there. It won’t happen automatically.

    Not every knowledgeable person is capable of teaching others and not every good teacher is good at teaching first-graders. We should all recognize our strengths and weaknesses and accept the strengths and weaknesses of others without putting them down for being different or knowing less.

    I wasn’t able to find the exact phrase “Every year there is a new first grade” in Google so perhaps I am in a position to give you permission to use it. In any case, I had never heard it before and didn’t steal it from someone else. So, as far as I’m concerned, feel free to use it.

    Neil Porter

    Reply

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