NANDroid backup

A NANDroid backup is a digital copy of all the data that’s stored in an Android device's NAND flash memory.

NANDroid backups are used by Android device owners who have gained root access to their phone’s operating system in order to use aftermarket distributions of the Android operating system, which are called ROMs. A NANDroid backup is created on the phone’s Secure Digital (SD) memory card. Once the backup has been completed, it can be copied to a desktop or external storage device to free up storage on the phone’s SD card. Backups made with NANDroid exist as an exact image of the phone and retain the phone’s user-downloaded apps, settings, file folders and directory structure.

CWM and TWRP are ROM managers that offer NANDroid backup. They allow the device’s owner to create a full NANDroid backup before trying out a new ROM. NANDroid is also useful for restoring a rooted phone that has picked up malware. Rooted Android phones, like jailbroken iPhones, are vulnerable to malware because the owner has had to circumvent the original operating system’s security features in order to gain access to the root directory.

Image backups for smartphones are an ideal form of device-centric disaster recovery as the system is restored to exactly its status at the time of backup, without requiring reinstallations, reconfigurations and updates. On the other hand, outdated images can sometimes be more work than a reinstall if a user has made many changes since the backup. Uses may have many changes to make and apps to delete or install if the way they use their device has since changed since that time.

This PhoneBuff video teaches viewers what to do with a NANDroid backup file.

This was last updated in July 2015

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