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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!

  • Clouds

    When I reboot my Gnex, i don’t get that small lock icon under Google, what does that actually means? my device is unlocked? I don’t need to do the bootloader thing? 
    thx Guys

  • Anonymous

    This phone will be my first attempt at rooting.  I did unlock the phone the first day, so that part is done.  Is this the safest/essayist way at rooting, or should I try something like this: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1400871?

  • Anonymous

    Ok.  Never did the permanent clockwork.  Ready now.  Downloaded Root Explorer (full version).  Mounted as R/W.  Scroll down to System.  Don’t see reboot-from-recovery.p  Is this because I have a non-stock rom [ROM][CDMA] CM9 Kang on the phone already?

  • Peesa

    after step 12, where i back out of recovery, i press reboot system but the screen just turns off. and when i put it on, its on the same screen. and it says its installing updates, but its been saying that for a while. is that normal?

  • Peesa

    where do you get the recovery image recovery-clockwork- from?

    • Peesa

      nevermind, my mistake, lol

  • vilivus

    what is the cons and pros of permanent clockwork recovery?

    • Kuboo99

      The pro is that you don’t need to reflash the recovery every time you want to use it. I don’t know for sure, but maybe having permanent clockwork disables OTA updates. I don’t know for sure though, just know that on my Transformer a custom recovery takes away OTA support. So that could be a con.

  • drew

    I have tried going through this a few times but I cannot get to the recovery mode. when i try and enter recovery mode it pulls up the google screen with the unlocked symbol and then stays there indefinitely. any suggestions? 

    • drew

      nevermind, i see my answer below

  • Thanks Kellex, great and easy guide

  • Anonymous

    Just rooted and backed up for the very first time following the instructions above (did not do the permanent CWM). Couldn’t have been easier and everything went perfectly! Thanks, Kellex!!!

  • Thanks for warning me that this will erase my “SDcard”!  Lost over 100 pictures and some Christmas videos.

    • Is there a way I can retrieve my files?

  • Hob594spam

    For the permanent clockwork recovery, is there an app that is free? If so, which app and how would I do it?

  • Anonymous

    I have been extremely nervous about rooting my Galaxy Nexus, but finally decided to bite the bullet and do it. I just finished rooting, only having a couple “hiccups” and now I’m ready to have some fun! Thanks for all the help!

  • anyway you guys could post instructions to unlock the nexus on a mac?

  • Minterbomber

    Can anyone help me out here. I have the bootloader unlocked and everything works fine until after step 8. When I use the volume keys to go to recovery mode and select it, my phone goes to the google logo and stays there. CWM recovery does not boot and I dont get to install zip from sdcard. Anyone know why I can’t get through this step? I dont get any errors pushing the su file nor when I flash CWM. Any help is appreciated! 

    • Minterbomber

      Nvm, I figured it out. My CWM file was bad and I got it from the link above. If anyone else runs into this problem get the file from clockwork on the xda developers forum. The CWM file should be 5,140 kb. The one from the link above is only 74.1 kb.

  • im not gonna lie, im just lazy right now, but i hate using adb. i mean, i can use it if i have to, i think the laziness just took over. is there a significant battery change if you hack the gnex and put a ROM on it? 

  • I’m on step 7 and have just rebooted into my bootloader. How exactly do i flash the new recovery image? Thanks

  • I followed these rooting instructions and lost my 3g/4g data.  i could makes a call and use wifi but network data was gone.   i flashed back to the stock image and locked my phone.  any idea what happened?  trying to identify it before i unlock again.

  • Tuna

    Hey anyone else having an issue where you can only boot into recovery if you have CWM reflash recovery every time before you reboot into it?

  • Blakecaldwell22

    Kellex Kellex Kellex!
    Are you going to show us how to install cyanogen mod when it comes out for the gnex so we don’t screw anything up? please do!!

  • Dez

    whats the diff between having it permanently or not ????????????

  • Blakecaldwell22

    is there any real advantage to permenantly installing clockwork recovery when you can just use the temporary?

  • Ed

    what’s the difference between the temporary recovery and the permanent one?

    • Anonymous

      when you switch roms you usually have to do a factory reset, and since there is no SD card to put CWM on, it is deleted also unless you put it in the folder above^^

  • Steve Blais

    ok.. rooted ogd here (rip) now gnex owner. Wondering what are some of the highlights of a rooted gnex that are worth the root, is overclocking worth it anymore.. just need a cliff notes version.. as I have never owned a nexus device prior to gnex. oh yeah .. battery life 9hours consistently before getting to 15% (with moderate use, email gtalk, browse pulse news app etc..fsquare)

    • mons

      Can get better battery life with undervolted kernels.  It’s best to unlock and root now, while the phone is fresh, since unlocking the bootloader will wipe the phone.  I read somewhere that the GN idles at 700 MHz, which is probably higher than necessary – just using Set CPU to drop that should make a big difference in battery life.  CM9 will probably be awesome when it’s done.

      The way I see it, there’s no reason to not root.

  • RW-1

    I finally got the nerve after unlocking and rooted it, went without a hiccup.

    but since I havent seen it here I wanted to share what is on other boards.

    If you root and have issues with your power button waking up the screen, it is light flow and a setting at bottom of general settings, turn it off and you’ll be ok, no need to restore from backup …

  • Italia1918

    does this method install busy box?  the droidforums instructions you have to install seperate?

    • Tedcebula


      • Italia1918

        thank you do we have to install the busy box then with DL method?

  • Phone doesn’t recognize ADB – have used every conceivable method – downloaded Samsung drivers.  Downloaded PDANet.  Uninstalled Samsung and tried Naked Samsung.  I got the phone unlocked.  But I CANNOT get the PC 64 to recognize ADB when I am in fastboot.  HELPPPPPPP.  I’ve been working on this for TWO DAYS, and it is RUINING my Christmas holiday.

  • QtDL

    Super quick, stupid noob question – I am already unlocked, rooted, and running stock ICS. If I were to hit ‘factory reset’ under the settings menu, will it relock and unroot or just go back to 4.0.1 w/o my apps (still unlocked and rooted) until I sync again? Thanks. 🙂

  • Johnsonscouting

    I have the bootloader unlocked, was no problem. The problem that I am having is getting the phone rooted. I have pushed the two files(su, and rec img) to the phone and when I go into recovery it shows an adroid on its back with an exclamation point and I have to do a battery pull to get out. the phone works no prob just cant get past this. any ideas?

    • Matthew Rosidivito

      Try re-flashing recovery in step 7.

      • Anonymous

        I have done it 3 times with the same results. Not sure. Thanks for the reply though for sure. I think i will try my other laptop, could be something to try

        • Matthew Rosidivito

          Maybe you got a bad download? Try downloading the ClockworkMod Recovery file again and flashing that instead.

          • Anonymous

            Figured it out. My phone had installed superuser from the market because it was on my old X2. As soon as I unistalled superuser it went. Weird, if that wasnt ot dont know, but I tried like 15 times with no success until I cut and reinstalled superuser. Thanks though.

        • Anonymous

          I decided to give it another try and this time it got to the screen that comes up when you turn it on and it showed “Google” and the unlocked lock at the bottom of the screen. In a video on Youtube a guy says to put the files in the tools folder, but in the directions above it states to use the platform tools and thats what I have been doing. It has the adb exe file in there too. Any thoughts? I have the I’m stupid feeling now. After a battery pull all appears to be well, just NO ROOT

  • Johnsonscouting

    I have the 

  • theblast

    If I flash ClockworkMod Recovery onto my phone will I still be able to receive updates? If so, how so?  I’m sure this question has been beaten to death, but I’m curious to know before I do this(I just unlocked the bootloader =D).  


    Can you unroot a permanently rooted phone? If you can, how do you do that? Is it with the regular unroot?

  • Milr46

    Trying to root, I get to num11, choose th su.zip file and install it but its not there? Any help would br great.

    • Anonymous

      Make sure when you type “adb push su.zip /sdcard/” that you are leaving a space in between su.zip and /sdcard/. I did not leave this space the first few times I tried it and it did not work, but when I put the space in, the file showed up on the phone. Hope this helps!

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t know so many idiots read Droid-Life. 1) You can’t judge a devices battery life for at least 3 days. 2) If this is your first Verizon 4G phone, your battery life will definitely suck compared to whatever phone you are switching from. If you’d like your battery to last all day with heavy use, I suggest you get the RAZR. Not the DROID RAZR but the V3 RAZR flip phone.

  • Does anyone else NOT have “/system/reboot-from-recovery.p” CDMA Nexus. I have to keep flashing CW Recovery using ROM Manager if I want to do anything in recovery. 

  • Anonymous

    I read the comments that if you don’t have permanent root then after the phone reboots you need to flash Clockwork Recovery again.  I let my battery die and after I plugged in and restarted it still shows that my recovery is ClockworkMod  I never did the steps for permanent root so I’m confused.  Why doesn’t it show the stock recovery?

  • Al

    When I type adb push su.zip /sdcard/ (with the space) I get..
    error: device not found.

    If I look at the folder structure on the phone I don’t even see the sdcard folder.  How do I proceed?

    • Al

      Also, I’m looking to just root the phone.  I don’t want custom recovery.

    • Al

      When I type adb devices, I get “List of devices attached” but there is nothing listed.

      • Al

        The list was empty because USB debugging was unchecked.  Unlocking the bootloader unchecked it.

    • Al

      I was able to push this file once USB debugging was checked but I still can’t see it in the folder structure.

  • RW-1

    Hi all,

    My question has to do with staying with the stock recovery versus making CWM perm.

    I’m already unlocked, and wish to root. So I know I can boot to the CWM and then push su etc.
    (I’m crossing my fingers there for root  🙂   )

    Any advantage of making CWM perm? Not yet going to place a ROMM on it, just wifi tethering and changing a few default APK’s (Transparent geniewidget anyone?)


    now that said, has anyone thought of WHY you get th elock icon on screen?

    We need to address that because IMHO unlocking has always been something that no one has been able to tell just by booting – IOW did VZ force this or Sam/Goog?

    Now the dumbest VZ rep could for unrelated issues be rebooting your unit and see that you have unlocked it …  you see where I’m going with this?

  • Anonymous

    This might be a stupid question, but why doesn’t just installing CWR from ROM Manager make it “permanent” clockwork recovery?  Is there any major benefit/drawback to having the permanent CWR installed?

    Coming from OG Droid and been a long time, but I don’t recall ever having to worry about ‘permanent’ recovery installs.

    • With permanent clockwork recovery you cant receive OTA updates

      • Jared Kirk

        So if you just want to root, but not ROM, then stop at step 13 above?  And if I do decide to install a custom ROM, do I have to re-do all of this over again?

  • Aarhed263

    i kno unlocking the bootloader on the gnex won’t affect OTA updates….but if i unlock and put Clockwork recovery on it, will OTAs be affected??????? let me know, thanks

    • Aarhed263

      oops, i meant….if i root it and put Clockwork recovery on it

      • Yes. You cant receive an OTA update without the stock recovery installed. you can keep the clockwork recovery for now and flash the stock back when an OTA update comes out

        • QtDL

          I accidentally made CWR permanent (oops – stupid noob). How do I flash back to stock? I want to stay unlocked and rooted. DL said instructions would be posted at a later date. Can I just hit ‘factory reset’ under the settings menu or will that F*&% up my phone?

  • nick

    I have a few problems after unlocking/rooting the phone. I thought it was a SIM card issue, but it’s not. After I unlocked and rooted the Gnex, my 3G/4G service just disappeared, I had none. So I re-locked and unrooted it, and I got data service back. Any thoughts? (I did go to Verizon a couple hours ago to see if it was a SIM card issue)


    • RW-1

      Coinsidence, nothing more.

      A lot of people have been having data drops, and signal loss issues… I’m sorry that you had the experience. 

      But the act of unlocking your bootloader and rooting the phone MAKES NO CHANGES (not screaming at you, just emphasis needed) to the baseband radio files, or anything else ont he phone related to it getting on the network.

      I realize where thsi line of thought leads, and I do wish to quash it now. If VZ didn’t want 4G rooteed access, then you would have a lot more people than just nexus owners losing total data after rooting and unlocking.

      • nick

        I understand what your saying, I guess I’ll just wait for the 4.0.3 update and see what I can do after.

        • i am in the same boat.  i rooted with these instructions and i dont have data service.  i can make calls but no data.  3g or 4g.   something changed. 
          could using a specific driver somehow affected this?  seems odd.

      • RW-1  this happened to me as well.  any idea what caused it?  

  • Tyler

    My Galaxy Nexus has this problem where it will freeze for a second then make a loud popping noise then instantly power off, then after about 3 seconds later reboot. It has happened twice for me. I can’t tell if there is something wrong with the hardware because i get what i believe is good battery life and signal strength and everything seems to work fine. What are everyone’s thoughts as to what i should do?

    EDIT: Also it happened when i was in the settings (right after turning off airplane mode) and when i was loading flash on a webpage.

    • Anonymous

      I get a popping sound at shutdown as well. It just happened after rooting. Hopefully that goes away soon… 🙁

      • Tyler

        I haven’t rooted and this isn’t at shutdown its random shutdown(like if the battery where removed) and it makes me nervous. Love the phone just need to figure out if the hardware is bad or not.

        • Eric

          Mine randomly rebooted a few times the other day. It was on silent mode so don’t know if it made the popping sound or not. Turned out it was a recent app I installed- Juice Defender.  Uninstalled the app and problem went away. Maybe its a rouge app?  Many apps are not yet compatible with ICS so people are running into some issues. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m trying to install the android sdk but step 3 says open the android-sdk-windows folder and launch the sdk manager. saying it will ask for which packages to install, but that doesn’t happen. I see a black DOS screen open and quickly close. I don’t get an option to do anything. Where should I go from here?

  • Whats the benefit of permanent Clockwork Recovery? Sorry newb question

    • Anytime you want to flash something custom to your phone you need a custom recovery, ex clockwork recovery. With the temp clockwork recovery you are able to root your phone then go right back to the stock recovery so you can still receive OTA updates. The benefit of permanent recovery just makes it easier so you dont have to constantly flash a custom temp recovery whenever you want to flash something custom to your phone

  • xxdesmus

    I’m only seeing “recovery-from-boot.p” in the system folder. What am I doing wrong here?

  • looks like i have something to do now. lmao

  • Anonymous

    QUESTION: Galaxy Nexus on Verizon. I unlocked the bootloader and pushed su/root with adb.

    How long does “temporary root” last? I backed out of recovery and rebooted… saw I had superuser installed—> installed rom manager—> flashed current recovery —> made a backup.

    My Nexus rebooted and I still have root with su permission. Rom manager sees the back up and  root explorer still has R/W privileges. So am I permanent or temp? I’m still plugged into my computer with usb cable… When do I lose root?

  • Anonymous

    How do you record the screen in 4.0?

    • Tom Craig

      Push volume down and power at the same time and hold it for a sec. Have fun!

  • Anthony Armando

    root + lte + extended battery + setcpu = win

  • Jason

    That was it! Thanks for the help! If anyone else misses that you have to reload the clockwork recovery file to or it will go back to the stock android recovery. Just a heads up for everyone.

  • Jason

    tried in recovery couldn’t find the device so I just rebooted