What is Android Recovery Mode, How to Use It

Android recovery mode is a term thrown around quite a lot, and if you are not sure what it means, this guide should tell you what this recovery mode is and how you can access it on your device.

Joy Taylor Last Updated: Nov. 19, 2020

Your Android device actually packs many more features than what you use. One of these is Android recovery mode. As the name suggests, this is actually a mode that you can reboot your device into and access many features to fix some problems and recover your phone or tablet.

Most Android phones have three modes: normal mode which is what you use on a daily basis, the safe mode which you can use to only load the essential files on your device, and recovery mode that you can use to troubleshoot issues on your phone.

Here we take an in-depth look at when you should use this mode and what it can do for you.

Why Do You Need to Use Android Recovery Mode

Use 1. Wipe Your Cache Files

If you are experiencing certain issues on your Android phone and you have been asked to clear your cache files, using recovery to clear the cache partition is a really good idea. This option wipes off all your cache files from your Android phone.

Use 2. Reset Your Android Device

There are occasions when your phone refuses to turn on for various reasons. For those situations, you can use recovery to wipe off your device. This way, you can fully reset your phone including all your data, settings, and any other configurations you may have made on the phone.

Use 3. Install an Update File

Sometimes, phone manufacturers push their updates in the format of a ZIP file. You cannot install these ZIPs from normal mode and you are going to have to use recovery mode to do that. Recovery mode takes your ZIP file as input and installs it on your phone the way it should be installed.

Use 4. Flash a Custom ROM

If you are someone who enjoys tweaking their phone and its settings, you might like to flash a different ROM on your phone and see what it offers. Recovery mode allows you to flash various kinds of custom ROMs on your phone. If you do not like a ROM, you can flash the stock ROM as well using the same recovery mode.

What Does Recovery Mode Do

Android recovery mode does a variety of things and the following are some of the options you will find in your phone’s recovery mode.

What Android Recovery Mode Is

What Android Recovery Mode Is

Feature 1. Reboot system now

One of the options you will see in your recovery is a Reboot system now. As the name implies, this option allows you to turn off your device and then turn it back on in normal mode. When you tap this option, your phone will boot into normal mode.

This option is usually used when you have finished your tasks in recovery and you want to go back to normal mode.

Feature 2. Reboot to bootloader

On some phones, you will find an option that says Reboot to bootloader in recovery and this option allows you to boot your phone into bootloader mode. Bootloader mode is different from normal and recovery mode and this mode allows you to flash certain files using ADB or other tools.

This also happens to be the mode that you use to unlock your phone’s bootloader.

You should only use bootloader if you know what you are doing. Flashing a bad file can brick your phone.

Feature 3. Apply update from ADB

If you have downloaded a system update file as a ZIP on your computer, you can use recovery’s Apply update from ADB option to install that update file on your phone. Basically, you should have ADB installed on your computer and you can then use this option to push the file to your device and install it.

Note: this option should only be used when you have no other options to get and install an update file.

Feature 4. Apply update from SD card

If you have downloaded a system update file directly on your phone’s SD card, you can use the Apply update from SD card option to install the update from the external storage on your phone. This works pretty much the same way as the above option but lets you pick a file from your local storage.

Feature 5. Wipe data/factory reset

Wipe data/factory reset is the option that helps you to fully reset your phone to the default settings. If you cannot reset your device because it will not turn on or you have other issues, you can reboot your phone into recovery and use this option to wipe off everything that is stored on your device.

Please make sure you have a backup of your data before using this option. This option will erase everything on your phone.

Feature 6. Wipe cache partition

Wipe cache partition allows you to remove all the cache files that have been sitting on the cache partition on your device. This is a quick and easy way to get rid of all your cache files in a couple of taps. You might want to use this option when there are cache-related issues on your phone.

Feature 7. Mount /System

Mount /System is normally not found in stock recoveries, but if you see it in your recovery, you can use it to mount your phone’s system storage and access the core files. If you want to make changes to the core system of your device, this is the option that you need to use.

Feature 8. View recovery logs

As the name implies, View recovery logs lets you view all of the logs that have been made as a result of your activities in recovery mode. You should be able to find when you reset your phone and other details in this log file.

Feature 9. Power off

Reboot system now and Power off are two different options and the latter simply turns off your phone and does not turn it back on. If you have finished doing something in recovery but you do not want to immediately go into normal mode, use this option.

How to Access Recovery Mode

Although two different phones run the same Android operating system, the procedure to get into recovery mode can be different. Therefore, you need to learn the key combination that gets you into recovery mode on your phone. Here are the ways to reboot into recovery on some common Android phones.

Reboot into Recovery on Google Nexus/Pixel Phones

Recovery mode on Nexus and Pixel phones

Recovery mode on Nexus and Pixel phones

Entering recovery mode on Google’s Nexus or Pixel phone is pretty easy. You need to first get into bootloader mode and then choose recovery mode from there. Here we show how you do just that.

Step 1. Turn off your phone.

Step 2. Press and hold down the Volume Down and Power buttons.

Step 3. Use Volume keys to select Recovery mode and press the Power button.

Enter Recovery on Samsung Phones

Recovery Mode on Samsung Phone

Recovery Mode on Samsung Phone

Bringing Samsung phones into recovery mode is again as easy as pressing a few buttons. You need to remember the key combo for your phone and you can quickly get into recovery mode anytime you want.

Here is a generic way for Samsung phones to enter recovery mode.

Step 1. Power off your phone.

Step 2. Press and hold down the Volume Down/Up, Power, and Home or Bixby keys at the same time.

Access Recovery on Motorola Phones

Recovery mode on Motorola devices

Recovery mode on Motorola devices

Motorola phones use bootloader mode to gain entry into recovery mode. You need to first boot into the bootloader and choose recovery from there. If you are not sure, the following will help you with that.

Step 1. Make sure your phone is turned off.

Step 2. Press and hold down Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time.

Step 3. Select Recovery mode to reboot into recovery.

Use Recovery on OnePlus Phones

Recovery mode on OnePlus devices

Recovery mode on OnePlus devices

OnePlus devices do not require you to use bootloader to get into recovery. You can simply hold down two buttons together and that will help you get into recovery on your phone.

Step 1. Ensure your OnePlus device is switched off.

Step 2. Press and hold down Volume Down and Power buttons simultaneously.

Get Into Recovery on LG Phones

Recovery Mode on LG Phones

Recovery Mode on LG Phones

LG phones use a relatively difficult method to get into recovery. However, once you get used to it, you can get into recovery in a few seconds. Just make sure you hold and release the right buttons at the right time and you should not have any issues.

Step 1. Switch off your LG phone.

Step 2. Press and hold down Power and Volume Down keys at the same time.

Step 3. Release the keys when you see the LG logo and then press and hold down the keys again.

Step 4. Press the Power button and you will enter recovery mode.

Boot Into Recovery on HTC Phones

Recovery mode on HTC devices

Recovery mode on HTC devices

On HTC devices, you must have Fastboot disabled in order to boot into recovery. It is pretty easy to disable that option and then to reboot your phone into recovery mode.

Step 1. Head into Settings > Battery on your device and disable Fastboot.

Step 2. Power off your phone.

Step 3. Press and hold down the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time.

Step 4. Select Recovery to reboot into recovery mode.

How to Get Android Out of Recovery Mode

Getting out of recovery mode is as easy as selecting an option. While you are still in recovery mode, choose either Reboot system now or Power off if it is available and you will be out of the mode.

The Bottom Line

We hope the guide above gives you a good explanation as to what Android recovery mode is, how you can use its various options, and how you can reboot your own Android phone into this mode. If you think this guide is helpful, please share it with your friends and family.

Joy Taylor

Member of iMobie team as well as an Apple fan, love to help more users solve various types of iOS & Android related issues.