So, you flashed a new custom ROM on your Android device. Now, you want to put all of your applications back on it. Is there an easy way? Well… There are several ways. Here is a short list:
[important]These processes and applications should work on most Android devices. Most will require that you have root privileges on your device and some are more technically demanding than others.[/important]
- Manually download each app from the Play Store & Amazon’s AppStore. If you only flash a new ROM occasionally, then this process may be bearable – just not very pleasant. It can take a LONG time if you have a slow data connection and a lot of apps. And, if you are trying to download from your wireless data connection, you may even run into the dreaded “overage” issue and have to pay the exorbitant overage fees.
- Use the Android “Backup & Restore” function. This is a fairly easy way to get most of your applications back on your device but it often misses a lot of apps also – which must still be manually downloaded. Also, when making a significant change in your ROM (say from Gingerbread to ICS), it may not restore any of your apps.
- Use the Titanium Backup or similar application. This is a good option but the process is very complicated and not well documented. This and the “Nandroid” backup are the only options that can restore your application’s settings. However, that is both a good thing and a bad thing. If you had issues with the old ROM, you run a risk that you will transfer the same problems onto the new ROM if you restore the settings. Finally, both the backup and restore functions take some time.
- Use the “Nandroid” backup included with custom recovery programs such as ClockWorkMod (CWM) and Team Win Recovery Project (TWRP). This is the only option that will restore all of your desktop & system settings. This is GREAT if you want to restore the system to exactly the point where the backup was made (including restoring the same ROM, etc). When you are replacing a ROM, there is an option to only restore specific parts of the backup but may be unclear how such a “mix & match” process may be interpreted by the new ROM.
- Use your launcher’s backup & restore process. Some launcher programs (ADW & Go launchers come to mind) have a built-in capability to restore your desktop. But you must install (& set up) all of the applications prior to running the restore for it to put your icons back and make them work. And, it ONLY restores the launcher’s settings and your desktop – nothing more.
- Use the App2Zip application. This new app will create a zip archive of all your installed applications and place the (re-nameable) update.zip on your SDCard where you can flash it to your device right after you flash your new Custom ROM. All of the applications will be restored & installed on the new ROM’s system. You still have to setup your apps manually and then setup & restore your launcher and desktop (unless you use the launcher’s restore function.)
None of these options is perfect. And, your situation may dictate a unique option. I would like to hear your concerns about the process. Leave a comment and tell us what apps and processes you use & your experiences.