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How to: Root the Galaxy Nexus 4G LTE, Flash a Custom Recovery and Make a Backup [Verizon]

Time to root your Galaxy Nexus now that @Koush has released official Clockworkmod Recovery for the LTE version. We have gone ahead and posted the manual instructions for you, because well, if you have a Nexus you should probably know most of these standard adb and fastboot commands. It’s not hard by any means, especially knowing that you all have the SDK set up after unlocking your bootloader. Should take all of 5 minutes, maybe less.


Rooting and flashing a custom recovery:

*Unlock your bootloader first. [Instructions]

1.  Download ClockworkMod Recovery for the G-Nex. [Download]
2.  Place that file in your SDK/Tools folder (same place as your adb.exe).
3.  Download the superuser file aka the root file. [Download]
4.  Place that file in your SDK/Tools folder.
5.  Open a command prompt from within your Tools folder and type the following:

adb push su.zip /sdcard/

6. Then reboot into the bootloader:

adb reboot bootloader

7.  When the boot menu loads, flash the new recovery image:

fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-

8.  When that finishes, use the volume keys to highlight “Recovery mode,” press power to select it.
9.   From recovery, scroll to “Install zip from sdcard.”
10.  Then “choose zip from sdcard.”
11.  Choose the “su.zip” file and install it.
12.  When that finishes, back out of recovery and reboot the system.
13.  Enjoy being rooted with a temporary recovery. (Permanent instructions below)

Afterwards, you will want to install ROM Manager from the market and have it re-flash recovery for you.

Make your first backup:

1.  Now that you are rooted and have a custom recovery, it’s time to make your first clean backup.
2.  In ROM Manager, flash Clockwork recovery again (it’s the first option up top).
3.  Then tap the option to reboot into recovery just below that.
4.  Once in recovery, scroll down to “backup and restore.”
5.  Choose “backup” and let your phone create a backup.
6.  When finished, back out of recovery and reboot the system.

If you want permanent Clockwork Recovery (via XDA):

1. Install Root Explorer from the market and delete /system/reboot-from-recovery.p – *Mount as R/W first*
2. Reboot into Fastboot Mode: Power off your device and (Power + Volume Up and Down)
3. Flash CWM (fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-
4. Reboot into OS (fastboot reboot)
5. You now have CWM recovery permanently installed

Cheers @davekover!

  • Jason

    should I reboot to home and do the push or can I do the push in recovery? Thanks for the help, been awhile since I’ve done all this on the OG

  • Pete

    This is my first time rooting.  What is the drawback to temporary root as compared to permanent root?

    • Anonymous

      Read a few comments below for an answer to this question.

  • Anonymous

    Horray. I’m now officially unlocked and rooted.  

    • Jason

      need some help real quick! When I get to the part in recovery to choose zip from SD card the su.zip file is not there?? I did the push but it’s not in there, I looked in all the folders to, think I could just do another push from command prompt with the phone in recovery mode?

      • Anonymous

        Make sure you put a space in between “su.zip” and “/sdcard/”. Your cammand should be “adb push su.zip /sdcard/”. See the space after zip? And yes, you can just do another push. When you do the push it will tell you that it was successful in x amount of seconds.

  • Tony Romano

    Haven’t been that nervous in almost two years. Feels good to have Rom Manager and Titanium on my home screen. My kids have been neglected all morning.

    • RW-1

      I’m right with you there, something about it being new, and $299 will do that to you hehehe ….

  • Riky

    For those of you (by being overly cautious) trying to figure out why it lists no devices after you reboot the bootloader and when you type ‘adb devices’.  Type ‘fastboot devices’. This will check to find your device and rest your worries

  • Matthew Marshall

    First off thank you for the unlocking and rooting guides, very helpful. Now I have already unlocked the bootloader of the phone and rooted it, but I haven’t done the permanent Clockwork Recovery. What is the reason to do that? Is it suggested that I do?

    And once you are rooted what are some of the first things that I should be doing with my phone?

    • Anonymous

      Please see my response to mjmedstarved below for an answer to your first question.

      As to what you should be doing after you root… the world is your playground! You can now install a wireless tether app, titanium for removing bloatware, adfree, get google wallet on your phone, and try out some new ROMs! I highly recommend reading up on ROMs and how you need to flash them before you dive into it if you are new to the process. Enjoy!!

  • Italia1918

    I unlocked the bootloader but if I root will I still get the updates as long as i dont put a custom rom on yet ?

  • So do you have to always use adb to boot back into recovery or is there a button sequence on the phone at boot?

    • Anonymous

      You have a couple options to do it from the phone.

      You can press both volume keys and power at the same time to boot into fastboot. Then use your volume up or down keys to select recovery and hit your power button. You will then be in recovery.

      Also if you download ROM manager there is a reboot into recovery option on the main page.

  • babadush

    Thank you Kellex. Once again you provide a wonderful service to the community. 

  • Anonymous

    If you want permanent Clockwork Recovery (via XDA):

    I’m a little confused as to if/why I need to do this.  Does this make it so that clockworkmod will not be overwritten by an over the air update?  I always thought that clockwork was pretty permanent on the og droid.

    • Anonymous

      I, too would like to know the answer to this…… Perm vs non…

      • Anonymous

        With non-permanent every time you re-boot your phone the stock recovery
        will overwrite Clockwork Mod Recovery and you will have the re-flash CWM to
        have a custom recovery. Once you delete or change the name of the “/system/recovery-from-boot.p” file, then when you re-boot your phone it will not overwrite CWM recovery and you will still have it.

        So, no you don’t HAVE to do this but you will lose CWM Recovery after every re-boot. I just changed the name of the file to “/system/recovery-from-boot.p.bak”. That way it will not overwrite the custom recovery and I can change it back should I ever need to.

        Thanks goes to all the devs who have helped me gather this info. Hope it helps you as well.

        • Anonymous

          Thank you so much!

        • Anonymous

          I was wondering about this as well. One question regarding what you said. If I haven’t yet set CWM to be permanent and I reboot my phone (thus causing  stock recovery to overwrite it) can I simply re-flash CWM from within ROM Manager to get it back.

          • Anonymous

            Yep, that’s all it takes.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks. I thought so. Another question, will rooting and getting CWM installed block me from receiving OTA updates? Just curious about that part as well. And if it doesn’t block them (or if it does but I don’t make CWM permanent and the stock recovery is running at the time) will OTAs break root? I never had those problems on my OG, but I do remember reading about people with other phones losing root when they accepted OTA updates.

          • Anonymous

            From what I have read it does look like rooting may interfere with OTA updates. A guy a few posts below this already ran into this problem. However, Google will also release the source to these updates and you can flash them if you want to keep stock (maybe even before the OTA is pushed out). Also devs will update their ROMs with the OTA updates and you can flash those as well.

            Long story short, it looks like it may interfere with OTA updates, but you can flash these updates in a couple different ways.

          • Pete

            I let my battery run out completely and after I plugged it in and powered the phone back on it still says my current recovery is ClockworkMod in ROM Manager.  Why didn’t the stock recovery overwrite CWM?

  • Btpetrina

    well I have unlocked and rooted my phone but have no WiFi?? can anyone help me?

  • Nick

    I unlocked bootloader and ro oted no problem and made a backup.  However the OTA for 4.0.2 just hit my phone and when it reboots to install it I only get the ” ! ” which appears to be an error.  I let it sit for a while and nothing happens until I battery pull.  Any ideas on what i need to do to get 4.0.2 to install properly?

    • Anonymous

      Nick, I am not as well versed as some of these guys, but from what I read you need to go back to stock to accept the update. I’m not sure you need to re-lock the bootloader, but I am almost positive you need to go back to the original image without root.

      • Nick

        In case anyone is not as savvy as I am and is stuck like I was, I followed steps to unroot but using 4.0.1 files instead of 4.0.2.  Then once rebooted, the update to 4.0.2 OTA was available right away so I installed with no problem.  Then I rerooted.

        By the way, I never re-locked the bootloader.

  • Anonymous

    Someone please help. My Galaxy Nexus now turns on and stays on for a few seconds, but when I turn the screen off then back on it won’t come back on and I have to do a battery pull to boot back up and start the entire cycle all over again.

  • Anonymous

    If I root can I still accept software updates from Google?

  • Anonymous

    Great walk through! I followed the bootloader and root instructions and both worked flawlessly. Thank you! I have a couple questions. I don’t consider myself a noob but I am coming from a Dinc that I used ROM Manager to do all flashing of custom recoveries and ROMs (currently getting to know my way around SDK and ADB).

    1. With your process for installing permanent recovery (deleting the reboot-from-recovery.p file), is there a way to remove CWM recovery should my world collapse and for some reason I need to bring my phone to VZW? I assume there is and it is fairly simple I just wanted to triple check.

    2. Will the nexus be similar to the Dinc with most available ROMs listed in ROM Manager and easily flashed with a press of a button? I don’t mind flashing through other methods, I just wondered if it would be as simple as it was.

    Thanks again guys. Loving my nexus.

  • Anonymous

    If you’re doing this on Ubuntu, get the newest superboot for galaxy nexus.  It contains fastboot-linux.  Then replace all the “fastboot” commands above with “sudo ./fastboot-linux”.  The rest of the command is the same regarding fastboot.

    My question now is, what happens when I install an update from Google?  Does this have to be done again each time?  If so, do I follow the same process?  Or do I need to reflash the original image to remove the current root and then re-root?

  • Ok, my GNex is unlocked, rooted and running CWM …. NOW WHAT???

    • Anonymous

      NANDROID Backup.  Then enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    One step missing from the Clockwork Recovery Flash:

    You need to rename /system/recovery-from-boot.p to something else (like 1recovery-from-boot.p) using Root Explorer (make sure you mount R/W first). Details here:


    If you don’t do this, a reboot will essentially un-flash your recovery and you get little Andy on his back with a red exclamation mark. Battery pull is then the only resolution..

  • Brian

    How long doea it take to flash? I let it sit at “sending recovery” for about 12 min and it never went any further. 

  • Tnfan2k12

    Please help!! for some reason the su.zip file does not show up when I select “choose zip from sdcard” everything worked fine until that point. I did send the command  “adb push su.zip /sdcard/”

    • Tnfan2k12

      You have to put the space between su.zip and /sdcard/

      • reeby

        Thanks this helped me also 🙂

  • Tnfan2k12

    I am sure this is a real noob question but, I assume you have to use disk imager to put the image file into the tools folder and do you aslo unzip the su file before putting it in the tools folder

    • No, just put those files into your C:Program Files (x86)Androidandroid-sdkplatform-tools or C:Program Files (x86)Androidandroid-sdktools folder, whichever has adb and fastboot.exe in them.

      Don’t unzip or otherwise modify those files.

  • Anonymous

    dumb question: can you brick your device if you have a nand backup? or rather, can you unbrick it with a nand backup?

  • Brian Walls

    Odd, reception on my Nexus so far has been outstanding, yes compared to my OG, and 4G reaches, really where it shouldn’t. 

  • Pepitocontreras2000

    Im having issues as my phone tries to install update 4.0.2 it wont install. What would i have to do in order to install it? Im already rooted and unlocked thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Dude. It’s been 24 hrs since I got my G-Nex and couldn’t be happier. Had a bit of trouble unlocking but I found a different usb driver that did the trick. All those haters raggin’ on the G-Nex hardware can kiss my @ss. The thing is beautiful, fast and ICS is a huge step up from GB. It’s enormous and that will take a bit of getting used to (I had an OG) but I am extremely happy with my purchase. +1 to Google & Samsung. VZW can suck it.

  • Anonymous

    I’d rather not root this device, i prefer to still recieve software updates.

    • Anonymous

      Understand something fvqu. You root so you can flash ROMs. This serves you far better than updates. ROM makers also cater to new OS builds. Occasionally you will SBF back to stock, update to a new OS build with the most recent updates and flash the new ROM which tricks out the news OS build. During your trip, you enjoy a tricked out phone. 
      Not to sound antagonistic, but if you are not prepared to occasionally spend a little time enhancing your phone, then it really is a complete waste of your time coming to the forum and making that statement. 

    • Anonymous

      root it. trust me. its worth doing for Titanium Backup alone. Its a Nexus so you can always get the images from Google directly when they are released.

  • Sk4t3rg0d

    Can anyone please help, Yes Im on a mac, but I followed all instructions and was able to unlock my boot loader quite fast.  But when I try to push the “su.zip” to the phone this is what I get.

    adb devicesList of devices attached 014691491601600A deviceadb push su.zip /sdcard/cannot stat ‘su.zip’: No such file or directory

    • Sk4t3rg0d

      Do i need to be in recovery to push files with adb?

      • No, you just have to have ADB running and listing your device before you can push the su.zip file (or any other file/ command). If you’re USB-Debugging is turned on and your device is not listing when you run: “adb devices” try running “adb kill-server” first and then “adb start-server”.

    • Anonymous

      no but you need to run the push command from the directory where su.zip is located or put in the full path to the file

      • Sk4t3rg0d

        I put the ‘su.zip’ file in the same directory as adb  and if my adb commands are working doesn’t that mean i’m executing push from the correct directory

        • Sk4t3rg0d

          never mind  you are correct, must be something wrong with my path, i typed in the whole location and it worked. thanks.

        • Anonymous

          not necessarily. I dont have a mac, but if you have the equivalent of environment variables (the PATH settings in the instructions) then adb will run from any directory. if you change to the directory where su.zip is located and run sdb from there it should work. If I had a Mac I could be more helpful but Im sorry that I dont. Kellex might be able to help you out if you contact him. Or you can google unlocking for a mac. Im sure there are detailed posts for that.

  • Mj2332166

    If you want an easier way of flashing clockwork recovery do it through rom manager. Takes 1 minute.

  • bmacdx

    adb.exe (if you are downloading the latest sdk for windows) is not in tools/  its in platform-tools/

    • Also remember that fastboot.exe is not in the r16 release of the Android SDK and you will need to download it separately.

  • Anonymous

    So i’m new to this, but it’s my understanding that before doing any of this (rooting, roms, etc), the phone (well, bootloader) has to be unlocked, right? And no matter what, unlocking will wipe the phone, is this correct? And that’s why it’s recommended to unlock right away, so dont really have to start over at a later date, right?

    • Keith Sumner

      100% wrong, actually, unlocking your bootloader will do nothing but..unlock it.

      What will wipe your data is when you go to install a custom ROM, which there aren’t any yet.

  • Anonymous


  • Way too complicated for me, especially since I just wanna root. I’ll wait for some hero at XDA or elsewhere to devise a rooting method that doesn’t involve wiping the phone first or messing with ADB or the SDK.

    • Are you being serious? Nexus devices are the easiest devices to root. Most times its 15-20 lines you must type in adb. And no matter what, your device will be wiped as when you unlock the bootloader, it wipes your device. Pretty sure no way around that. I wouldnt recommend rooting if you think this is complicated. Not trying to be an ass, just trying to save you from messing your device up.

      • Mark Wilk

        I used the GSM steps and had mine rooted in about 10 commands.

    • If you haven’t unlocked your bootloader already then you can’t escape wiping your device when you finally decide to root.

  • Anonymous

    I used superboot. Nice and easy, even someone with no experience can do it. After flashing superboot, install Clockwork Mod and flash the cdma recovery. Very simple and easy. Got this from XDA developers http://android.modaco.com/topic/348161-30-nov-r3-superboot-rooting-the-gsm-lte-galaxy-nexus/

  • Anonymous

    RANDOM, SORTA-RELATED QUESTION:  Does anyone remember the name of the app that allows you to fiddle with the LED color/frequency/etc?  Thanks.

    • Chet Stovepiper

      light flow

      • Anonymous

        …and a ‘like’ for you.  Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    My christmas is officially today. just got my GNEX delivered by Fedex. Hell yeah. So much for actually working at work today…..

    • Nice. Hopefully Fedex delivers mine on time too and I wont be working much either. I already told my boss I wouldnt be working that much today and he said its cool as he just got it yesterday and totally understands, lol.

  • Jothen2002

    Thank you to everyone who contributes in the awesome step by step instructions. It makes simpletons like me have a chance. 

    SO I went through the step by step process of setting up my SDK toolkit last night. Is there anyway confirming I did this correctly..or do I have to just give it a whirl??..One happen to one clicks lol..
    Thanks again…

  • Steve

    Why is my battery showing a little over 1 hour remaining at 80%? Took it off charge at 8am and havent really touched it much and I’m already down to 80%….

    • QtDL

      The screen uses a ton of power. Dial down the brightness to as low as you can tolerate…it should help at least a little. Mine is probably turned down to about 15% or so and it still looks pretty bright to me. I have been off of the charger for about 4 hours now and at about 86% w/ light to med usage.

      • Steve

        Yeah I noticed the screen really boning my battery. I also restricted background data while I’m at work since I’m on wifi, seems to be helping a lot

        • Anonymous

          There is something really wrong with my battery for sure. I used the phone for 23 minutes – nothing crazy with my screen pretty dim…..and my battery was at 83%. Yesterday it was dead almost all day and I had it plugged in to the computer.  Nothing abnormal that I can see draining it but boy is it going fast. I’m thinking maybe I have a bad battery?

          Other than that I LOVE the phone -it’s just awesome.

          Any thoughts?

          • QtDL

            Hmmm….does it charge up any differently when you plug it into an outlet? I’ve never charged a phone through my computer so I wouldn’t think it would be any different but who knows. If you can’t find a logical explanation, just go to VZW and get a new battery – well have them swap out the bad one. I am at 6 hrs, 10 min. w/ 79% – not too sure if that’s good or bad.

          • Anonymous

            Wow – I wish I could go 6hrs and only lose 20%. I’m gonna goto VZ and try to get new battery — will they fight w me?

  • Interestingpost.
    Thanks.buy essay

  • Vinzky

    sorry for this dumb question..after downloading superuser file do i have to unzip it? which file do i need to put in the sdk folder? thanks for any help.

    • Anonymous

      nope just copy the zip to the /sdcard/ partition like the instructions say. if you follow the instructions exactly it will work like a charm

  • Jaime Ramirez

    theres a easier way to do it just go to the unlocker download the folder. adb reboot bootloader when you get the android logo flying on the folder there a root option just clikc phone might freeze just unplug and take out battery and thats it

  • Anonymous

    kellex … thanks for all this. i know youve taken some heat the past couple weeks with all the leaks and rumors. even i was getting sick of it! 🙂  but now it is all good.  THANKS AGAIN for the site and especially the tips, instructions, etc.  

  • Worked perfect! Thanks.

  • This was most helpful.
     Some Tips:If you are not seeing the device when pushing su.zip in the adb screen, make sure USB Debugging is turned on, in Settings/Developer Option, in the phone.If you’re stuck on “Waiting for Device” in the Bootloader screen, this tip helped me, from the original Unlock Bootloader tutorial, Go To your Device Manager, and you should see your device listed with Android 1.0, or Samsung Device… : Navigate through and manually add your SAMSUNG Android Phone device driver (“Let me pick”) – should be dated 11-25.  This is the driver you downloaded from Samsung. Then Boom, the command your originally typed to flash the recovery will continue. Hope this helps. 

  • b00ky

    What if we want to root our phones without installing a custom recovery? Is that possible using ADB and pushing the superuser files, etc? I am new to ADB, but unlocking was very easy. Being that this is a Google developer phone, I was wondering if there was any advantage to keeping the stock recovery for the Nexus (future updates, etc which I guess you could just manually install with a custom recovery)? I read some older posts about the GSM version and they pushed some sort of temporary boot.img then pushed the su files, but when all was said and done they made it seem like the recovery was still the original stock recovery. Just wondering. I also saw a recommended link at one point for learning more about the basics of adb. If anyone has any suggestions please share them.

  • dead5hea

    Please help…

    C:android-sdk-windowsplatform-tools>adb reboot bootloader

    C:android-sdk-windowsplatform-tools>fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork
      sending ‘recovery’ (5140 KB)… FAILED (remote: Invalid Command)
    finished. total time: 0.001s


    • Ronaldo781

      wild guess, but did you put fastboot.exe in your platform tools folder?

      • dead5hea

        Yea, its in there.

    • Anonymous

      Did you ever get this figured out?  I am having this same issue.

  • Ben Tarpley

    Question for the room… when i get to  “fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-” it seems to time-out in adb. It just sits there stating sending ‘recovery’ . This isn’t my first rooting rodeo, but I’m still probably a FNG to most ppl’s standards. Has anyone else confronted this?

  • Jeston

    By the way, anyone who wants to keep CWM on permanently needs to delete or rename the file 
    /system/recovery-from-boot.p. If this file is not renamed or deleted, then the stock recovery will be reflashed on the next boot up.

  • Anonymous

    Everything was working great, but now I’m stuck in a loop of “Unfortunately, the process com.android.phone has stopped.” which I think has something to do with me messing around with LCD Density. Any suggestions?

    Also, how do we get into recovery?

    • Anonymous

      The only working way I’ve found is through adb. I’m reinstalling the software (using Pete’s rooted rom), so hopefully that will fix the problem.

      • Anonymous

        Reinstalling the rom didn’t work. Time to try a data and cache wipe.

        • Anonymous

          Okay. That worked. Time to reload my apps again.

  • Ugh… I just wish Best Buy had reminded me I needed a 4g LTE sim card, and that it wasnt in the box… I guess I’m a little new to this stuff

  • So what do I do if my computer doesn’t see the Nexus after I plugged it in?

    I typed in adb devices on the command prompt but nothing is found. I unlocked the bootloader so I know it’s possible

    • Bryan Williams

      Check your device manager and see if you have a device called “Android 1.0” with a yellow exclamation point next to it.

      • No it shows up under Portable Devices as a Galaxy Nexus, do I need to go to the recovery mode screen or something similar?

        • Try “adb kill-server” and then “adb start-server” … this will force adb to check for the connected GNex. Then run adb devices again to see if it is found.

          • It’s still not seeing it, i only see “list of devices attached” and nothing else