[Android] What is ClockworkMod (CWM) recovery and why do we use it? [dotTech Explains]

What is ClockworkMod recovery?

When it comes to recovery for Android, ClockworkMod has been and still is the most famous and extensive custom recovery tool for Android devices. ClockworkMod, which is often abbreviated as CWM, is developed by Koushik Dutta, more popularly known as Koush. (Yes, he is the same developer behind ROM Manager for Android.) ClockworkMod recovery has, over time, become the favourite choice for Android users as well as developers.

What about the default Android Recovery?

The default Android recovery that comes pre-installed with all Android devices is pretty basic as far as functionality is concerned and thus doesn’t allow an Android user to play with and experience the full power of the device he owns. Simply putting it, the basic recovery console that comes with the Android devices is primarily a partition (that can be booted into) in the device that provides some basic (though handy) functionalities like doing factory reset and/or manually recovering or upgrading the operating system to stock ROMs (official releases). Default Android recovery does not allow users to install custom ROMs, such as CyanogenMod.

Why ClockworkMod Recovery?

ClockworkMod offers Android users with an extensive list of functionalities which the default Android recovery cannot even hope to match. Using ClockworkMod, one can install, update, or upgrade both official and unofficial ROMs (known as ‘custom’ ROMs). It also enables advanced recovery and backup methods, and one can mount the USB storage to transfer files between the device and a PC while remaining in the recovery mode (very helpful for if you have a bricked device and can’t boot into Android or if you simply don’t want to do another reboot to transfer a file you forgot). Partitioning the SD card and wiping user data, dalvik cache, and battery stats are some other capabilities of ClockworkMod.

Aside from installing custom ROMs, ClockworkMod often makes it easier to perform other Android hacks such as rooting, enabling lagfixes, etc.

How to install ClockworkMod recovery?

Installation method of ClockworkMod recovery varies from device to device and there is usually more than one effective method to replace the default Android recovery with ClockworkMod. Though the process is different for different devices, it is typically quite simple and safe.

One of the common options ‘that just works’ for installing ClockworkMod recovery on your device is to first root your device then download and install the ROM Manager application from the Google Play Store; after installing the application, you just have to run it and select the first option in it — “Flash ClockworkMod recovery”. If your device has an official version of ClockworkMod recovery released for it, you will most likely be successful in flashing ClockworkMod recovery to your device. But, this method doesn’t work on some devices like the Samsung Galaxy S series devices (due to some extra layer of protection) and on certain other devices (due to reasons related to the availability of ClockworkMod for the devices or due to some limitations of the devices). Plus Google has started protecting recovery on Android 4.x and higher so that adds another level of complexity when it comes to installing ClockworkMod. Bottom line: There is no one standardized way to install ClockworkMod and it varies from device to device.

If flashing ClockworkMod recovery using the ROM Manager method doesn’t work for your device or if you are looking for alternative guides for installing ClockworkMod on your device(s), just keep following the dotTech guides on installing ClockworkMod recovery; we will be writing guides on how to install ClockworkMod recovery on various devices. You can let us know which device(s) you would like us to write about specifically through the comments below and we will try to fulfill your requests.

How to access the Recovery Console?

Once you have ClockworkMod recovery, you want to access it, right? Or maybe you haven’t installed ClockworkMod recovery and want to access your default recovery. How do you do that? I may sound like a broken but just like ClockworkMod installation procedures vary from device to device, so does the method for accessing recovery. The good news is that manufacturers like to standardize how to access recovery for all there devices so most devices of the same manufacturer share the same method.

For most Android devices manufactured by Samsung, the recovery console (Android recovery or any other custom recovery like ClockworkMod) can be booted into by turning off the device, and then turning on the device while holding the ‘Volume down’ and ‘Home’ buttons pressed until you see the Samsung logo. For devices from other manufacturers, other methods include: turning off the device and holding the ‘Volume down’ or ‘Volume up’ button pressed while switching on the device (Volume down/up + Power); turning off the device and holding the ‘Volume down’ and ‘Volume up’ buttons while powering on the device; etc. — it varies. In many situations you aren’t taken directly to recovery mode but rather have to select “RECOVERY” option after performing the two/three finger salute.

If you have managed to install ClockworkMod, you can easily reboot into recovery by selecting “Reboot into Recovery” option from the ROM Manager app.

If you have ADB installed on your computer, you can choose yet another path to access recovery that works for all devices. Enable USB debugging from Settings -> Applications -> Development (or System settings -> Developer options on Android 3.x and 4.x). Then, connect your device to the computer, and enter “adb reboot recovery” (without quotes) in a command prompt.

Conclusion

ClockworkMod is probably one of the best things to happen to Android. It has helped open doors that might have remained closed otherwise. But be sure to use it wisely otherwise you may have a bricked device!

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62 comments

  1. swapnil

    I am using Celkon a59 and I dont have cwm recovery when I searched in rom manager my device name is not listed, please help me in getting alternative method of installating my mobile name is ( Celkon a59)

  2. Aad

    Could you please tell me how to install CWM recovery on my device: ZTE Blade 3. android version 4.0
    I want to upgrade it to version 4.4.
    I have already rooted it but I’m unable to get CWM recovery.

  3. Nadeem

    Plz write a step by step guide for rooting and installing cwm recovery for Samsung galaxy mega 5.8 GT 19152
    I hv been searching for so long for an exclusive article for this model but I hv not been able to get one.
    I really want to try this bt don’t want to brick my phone.
    Will be really grateful to u

  4. bert

    My Phone is samsung GT-s5830i, is rooted, in recovery mode apply update from sd card>clockworkRec5830i-zip >reboot system. I see clockworkMod Recovery v5.0.2.6 and rom manager icon. But no CUSTOM RECOVERY. Rom manager asks me first set up a custom recovery >install or update recovery > unsupported device. Can you tell me what to do. Thank you

  5. karthikeyan M

    Dear Guys,

    Problem is resolved. Instead of using Samsung USB Cable bundled with the Product, I used Nokia Cable to install ClockworkMod and it got worked. This time I got Clockworkmod Recovery screen successfully.

    If anyone facing the issue as the above, Pl try with some other USB Cable.

    Regards,
    Karthik

  6. Babale Idris

    Could you please Provide the Installation Instructions with exact Recovery Image to install clockworkmod for Techno f 7. Followed so many threads and nothing worked. While booting, It is taking default android recovery mode after installing clockworkmod.

    Regards,
    Dr sanka

  7. Babale Idris

    Could you please Provide the Installation Instructions with exact Recovery Image to install clockworkmod for Techno f7 . Followed so many threads and nothing worked. While booting, It is taking default android recovery mode after installing clockworkmod.

    Regards,
    Dr sanka

  8. maha.karthik

    Could you please Provide the Installation Instructions with exact Recovery Image to root/install clockworkmod for Samsung Galaxy Grand GT-19082 Model. Followed so many threads and nothing worked. While booting, It is taking default android recovery mode after installing clockworkmod.

    Regards,
    Karthikeyan M

  9. shahid

    Hi
    I have Micromax Infinity Funbook P275.
    I have rooted my device and would like to install CWM Recovery. Which method would be best.
    I further plan to install Chainfire 3D on it.

    As it is very slow, I would like to remove all the bloatwares. There was a site which was offering Clean ICS 4.0.3 but that was for P300 only.

    Please suggest.

  10. sanju

    Mine is galaxy Ace 5830i … my device is unsupported and In “Flash ClockworkMod Recovery”… It s asking which version ClockworkMod 2.x or ClockworkMod 3.x+ to use?… which one should I need to use ??
    What i do sir

  11. mleimnek

    so, i allready got CWM on my LG P708g… what now… its rooted… but to be honest i just dont know what im doing… its just that im kinda bored with the ICS looks… isnt there something else to do?!?! can you guys help me out?!

  12. john

    i have a coolpad quattro ive tried recoverX and clockworkmod recovery yet my device isnt supported on either. im not sure what to do at this point. its already rooted, any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  13. Martin

    I have rooted Samsung Galaxy Ace GT-S5830 running on Android 2.3.5. Which CWM I should use? ROM Manager doesn’t support my device. Some tutorials say that after install I should clear cache and dalvik cache. What are these things? How I’m supposed to do that? What does it delete? Thank you!

  14. milind bhaliwade

    hello guys, I have micromax a57, which already rooted. I unable to boot in recovery console as well as format mobile, when I selected wrong mobile model in flash recovery in Rom Manager apps. Pls give me solution.

  15. VelKumar

    Mine is galaxy Ace 5830i … my device is unsupported and In “Flash ClockworkMod Recovery”… It s asking which version ClockworkMod 2.x or ClockworkMod 3.x+ to use?… which one should I need to use ??

  16. Jamie

    I’ve recently rooted my Impression 7 android tablet by leader international, but ROM manager says device unsupported. I’ve read up on flashing Clockworkmod recovery manually using Android Emulator, but I don’t know what version (of CWM) is compatible with my tablet. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am so excited to finally be able to get the most out of such a generic device… Specs– Model no. I7, Android version 2.2-1103-en, Kernel 2.6.26.9, Build FRF85B. Thank you! :-)

  17. suhail

    @AU: hey if u want to install download cmw recovery zip any version put it on sd not inside folder restart ur device in recovery mode choose update from sd and choose the cmw recovery zip ur done any prob pls comment iam s2k xda senior member

  18. Godwin
    Author/

    @AU: If I am right, the Android on your netbook “was” a customised version by Acer until you flushed it for the custom Android x86 project. And, as per what I could infer with a little of researching on it, I found that you wouldn’t most probably be able to get CWM for your netbook.

    At the same time, you can use “Acer Configuration Manager for Android” on your Windows installation to restore the ‘original’ Android operating system on your netbook: http://acer–uk.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5870/~/how-to-restore-android-on-the-aspire-one