Manually updating an Android rom

As I mentioned in last month’s post Rooting Someone Else’s Droid, I set up my sister-in-law with the rooted rom Cyanogen 7 Release Candidate 4 on her Droid. Unfortunately, recently it started acting buggy on her. One of the things I advised her to do was repair permissions. Another was to make a backup and then install the latest stable rom (which, as of this writing, is Cyanogen 7.0.3).

If anyone else is remotely supporting a rooted Android phone user and would like a screenshot-laden tutorial on the update process, here it is.

The first thing you need to do is download the latest stable rom from the Cyanogen website that is appropriate for your phone model (this assumes you’re using Cyanogen—if you’re using another rom, obviously you’d download the latest version of that other rom). Since you’re upgrading and not install a rooted rom for the first time, you don’t need to download the Google apps zipped file. Also, be sure not to unzip the .zip file after you download it. Just keep it as is.

When it’s downloaded, plug in your phone and copy the .zip file to the top-level directory of your mounted MicroSD card. In other words, it should not be inside of a folder on your phone’s storage.

After you’ve copied it over and turned off USB mass storage, you can begin the backup and update process. Now, I know Rom Manager comes with the ability to backup and update from within the rom, but I recommend the manual way outlined here, because there’s no risk of you trying to update files that are currently in use. There also may be some features that are available for only the paid version (which you may not have) of Rom Manager.


Open up Rom Manager, which you should have already installed if you’re using a Cyanogen rom. Otherwise, you can easily install it off the Android Market.


Select Reboot into Recovery


Tap OK


When your phone reboots, use your little trackball or whatever means you have to move the highlight up and down until you’ve reached backup and restore and then press the trackball or selection button to proceed.


Select Backup


Wait for it to backup. This could take several minutes. Be patient.


Now that you’ve backed up, go ahead and select install zip from sdcard


Select choose zip from sdcard


Find the file. If it’s a Cyanogen rom, it’s usually called update-cm-[version number-phone model]-signed.zip


Confirm with Yes


Wait for the update to install


When it’s done installing, press the Back button to get back to the main menu. Then select reboot system now


Then you’re good! You have an update to the rom, and you also have a backup in case, for some reason, the update is screwy.

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