Let’s find out what Recovery mode is, how to access it and what it is used for. You will not have to go through complicated procedures and we will make sure that the different customization options offered by this mode will be useful to define the style of your smartphone or, sometimes, necessary to solve any system problems.

What is Recovery mode and what is it for

What is Recovery mode

Recovery Mode refers to a phone startup mode that contains a wide range of functions useful for restoring system operation, wipe or the formatting of some parts of it. The Recovery Mode creates a sort of “parallel and independent universe” from the Android operating system that, being placed in a different partition of the internal memory, allows access even if the main system has been damaged. In this way, any user can fix the problem found using the repair tools made available.

Recovery Mode creates a sort of “parallel and independent universe” from the Android operating system

However, these are just some of the possibilities offered: traditional (or basic) Recovery generally have limited functions, while modified Recovery (or custom) allows manual installation of zip files directly from the SD card, optimizing the SD card via the partitioning, the possibility of making full backups (called NANDroid) and the possibility of having access to a second more complete and full of functions menu.

The Android universe is, as you can imagine, rich in Recovery Custom, developed by users or communities, containing the most varied options or focused on particular aspects of the system.

How to access the Recovery mode

Every single tablet and/or smartphone offers a different way to get into Recovery Mode. Usually the magic formula is, more or less, the same: it is a combination of keys that must be pressed simultaneously with the phone switched off and that, if pressed correctly, will automatically start the recovery mode.

To start the recovery mode, press a series of keys at the same time

A sort of Abracadabra in short that, for some devices, requires particularly trained fingers. However, it should be said that on some Custom ROMs it is also possible to start the Recovery Mode directly from the main menu, just peek a little to see if this option is also provided by your device.

Here are some of the keystrokes you need to get into Recovery Mode on the most common devices:

  • Power + Down: this is undoubtedly the most common
  • Power + Volume Up + Bixby: Samsung
  • Power + Volume Down: Pixel
  • Power + Volume Down: OnePlus
  • Power + Volume Down: HTC
  • Power + Volume Down: LG
  • Power + Volume Down + Volume Up:  Motorola

Warning: in some LG devices, the combination Power + Volume Down or Power + Volume Down + Home from the phone switched off causes a hard reset of the device (reset to factory settings).

The list of combinations is constantly updated. For obvious reasons we can not list every device, but the best way to find the right combination for your device is to search for it on Google.

In the event that you can not access the Recovery via a combination of keys, there are some apps that allow access by simply selecting a button, but require root permissions. One of these is Quick Reboot.

If you do not have root and no key combination works, you can enter Recovery Mode via a command from the PC. To do this in the easiest and fastest way, you need the drivers of your device installed on your computer and the Minimal ADB and Fastboot program:

Once the program is open, follow this procedure:

  1. Activate USB Debugging on your device and connect it to your PC.
  2. Make sure your device is recognized: type the adb devices command and press Enter. If it returns an alphanumeric code under List of devices attached, it’s all right.
  3. Type the adb reboot recovery command and press Enter. The phone will restart in Recovery Mode.

What Recovery Mode is used for

As already mentioned, the Recovery was born with the intention to intervene on the Android operating system, allowing you to update the firmware or repair it. Below I will list the main functions:

  • reboot system now: allows you to restart the device.
  • apply update from … : allows you to install an official firmware, previously downloaded and moved to a particular location. Depending on the recovery stock you can do it from the internal memory ( update.zip  – * .img ), from the SD card ( external storage option ) or from the PC ( adb ).
  • wipe …: wipe deletes the content specified in the option. In the case of data/factory reset it will restore the phone to factory settings, while cache partitions is one of the most common remedies to fix the bootloop problem (when the device keeps showing the initial animation without starting Android).

Custom Recovery and additional features

If the functions in System Recovery are limited, the same can not be said for custom Recovery from the open-source Android community. In addition to those offered by Recovery stocks, we will find many other options including:

  • backup and restore: allows complete backups, called NANDroid. In one go you can save applications, data, settings and all your customizations, thus creating an exact copy of your device.
  • install zip: is an evolution of “apply …” that allows you to install any custom ROM, in addition to official firmware, directly from the phone.
  • advanced: option that will open a second menu, full of other functions. Among the most used is “wipe dalvik cache“, the 3rd of the recommended wipe (I would say mandatory) to install different ROMs.

How to install a custom recovery

There are several custom Recovery, the most famous is without a doubt ClockworkMod, but there is also TWRP Recovery and many others. You will be able to flash these Recovery simply by downloading the installer from the Play Store and selecting “Install/Flash …” in it. For all this, however, root permissions are required:

Now you know everything about Recovery! For any doubt or problem, do not hesitate to write in the comments.



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