How To Load a Custom ROM on an Android Device

Ready to flash some custom ROMs on your Android device? Here’s a little generic walkthrough to give you a better understand of the concept, it’s prerequisites, and get you from beginning to end without any headaches.

I Before You Begin.

1. Want more info on what a ROM is? Head to our glossary of terms and get familiar with all this jargon.

2. You might have been linked to this procedure from one of our other How To’s, namely rooting procedures. Either way, this procedure is meant to give you a solid overview so you may have already done some of these steps (I’ll mention which ones as we go). If you came from elsewhere and haven’t done the mentioned steps, don’t panic. Just follow the adjacent links as you go. As always, if you have any issues, please post here in the comments or in the forums for help.

II. Root Your Device

First and foremost, you need root access. Root access is essentially getting the phone to give us permissions to change what we want.

1. If you don’t have root access or never rooted your phone, then head to our how to’s here and find your android device to look for a procedure that’ll work for you. Once, done, head back here to continue.

III. Flash a Custom Recovery Image (skip if when you rooted you flashed a custom recovery already)

Next thing needed after rooting is a custom recovery image. All Android devices have a recovery partition. This is essentially a section of the device’s memory devoted to a very basic recovery system that is separate from the normal operating system. This is normally used by manufacturers for recovering a broken device (as even if the operating system crashes, the recovery image has a chance of still being access and used to reflash the operating system, etc.).

Because of that function of flashing the operating system, once we have root access, we can use it to flash our own versions of the operating system. Before it’ll do that though, we need to replace the original recovery image with a custom one that has a lot more functionality.

1. After you have root access, head to the market on your device and look for ROM Manager. Download and install the free version.

2. Open ROM Manager and select Flash ClockworkMod Recovery and choose your device.

3. Select Grant when the Superuser prompt comes up.

4. Wait for it to say successfully flashed. You now have a custom recovery image.

IV. Load a Custom ROM

Now that we have root access and a custom recovery image, we need to find a ROM we want to flash. Thanks to the amazing third party developers (most of which do this in their spare time), there are a bunch of ROMs to choose from. All of them have their own pros and cons and tweaks and themes, so you should try a few to decide which you’d prefer.

1. Head to our ROM Repository and find your Android device to be presented with all of the ROMs we’ve found for your device. Then follow the download links to see their features and download the .zip file for the ROM to your computer.

2. After you download the .zip to your computer, plug in your device via USB cable.

3. Copy the .zip file to the SD Card (do NOT extract it, just copy the whole zip file).

4. Unplug your device.

5. Now, open ROM Manager again.

6. Select Reboot into Recovery and wait for the device to reboot.

7. Once in recovery mode, use the volume buttons to navigate and power button to select Backup and Recovery.

8. Then select Backup and hit yes to confirm. Wait for it to finish backing up your current system (this will save you if something goes wrong).

9. Select Wipe Data / Factory Reset.

10. Select Flash zip from sdcard.

11. Select Choose zip from sdcard.

12. Find the ROM we copied to the sdcard in .zip format and select it. Then select yes to confirm. Wait for it to finish flashing.

13. Select Reboot System Now. Once it reboots (which will take a while the first time), you’ll be running the new ROM.

To flash a different ROM, just redo all the steps in Section IV here. Enjoy and don’t forget to comment on the ROMs you try in the repository so others can see what they’re all about.

As always, if this procedure helped you please thank/donate to the developers. You can thank Koush, the creator of the ROM Manager app, and/or the developers of the ROMs you like (their donate links found where you downloaded the ROM from).

If this procedure helped you, please consider donating to the original developer or at least sending them a thank you.

Now that you are rooted, head here to learn some of the fun things you can do!

For all the devices we have rooting procedures for, head here.

For more root tweaks, head here.

For all the devices we have rooting procedures for, head here.


Something Wrong? If you notice an issue with the procedure (broken link, steps out of date, etc.), use this form to let us know! Otherwise, if you just are having trouble with the procedure, reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

  • Elielson

    Obrigado pela ajuda com meu Wildfire

  • ramin

    How can I restore my orginal (stock) rom.I didn’t get any backup
    the detail of my cellphone:G510-0010-B195-DAUL SIM

    • http://theunlockr.com David Cogen

      You’d have to find the indoor procedure for your device. Search the site or google if it’s not here.

  • Gitesh

    I Have xperia s. when i reboot in recovery using Rom manager, it boots normally and I cant get into recovery mode

  • shashank

    When flashing CM 10.2 on my lg optimus l7 p700 i get an SD card error and the .zip doesnt flash.
    What is wrong?

  • shock584

    i have done all this then got to the reboot stage and it wont reboot. im just stuck on the htc load up. any help?

    • Hima Lord Phoenix

      the same thing with me … any suggestions ?

  • naiha

    it keeps saying : installation aborted when i install from zip file. what shouold i do nexT?

  • Tom Chemmalakuzhy

    Hi I’m using the LG Optimus G. After flashing cyanogenmod using Rom Manager and pressing the reboot button, an error message shows up on the LG page: “Secure Booting Error! Cause: boot certification verify”. I am not sure how to proceed after hitting this wall. Please help me out Admins!

    • Gonza Rohrer

      Did you find a solution to this? I’m havig the same problem…

  • manish

    i have zen 710hd, i have already rooted my phone. but is there any custom ROM available for my device. plz let me know if available……

  • stuck at SONY

    im flashing with miui 3.1.25 rom. ive been waiting about 15 minutes after instalation and its just appear SONY. how do i go to recovery mode ? i try many ways but its doesnt work at all. help me please

  • sam

    i have a samsung gt-s5360 rooted after install axiom the phone refuse to boot pass the axiom logo i have tried everything hard reset,wipe data ,i have tried everything but the phone still will not boot

  • Nathan

    Hi,
    I have rooted my xperia pro using Eroot
    and i have used recoverX to install custom recovery (i chose ICS one and did not tick developer mode)
    I then downloaded Rom Manger and granted it superuser permission
    and I then went to the reboot in recovery mode to make a backup, factory reset etc

    but

    the phone just boots up the OS again, it does not go into recovery mode, and nor does it manually either
    I’m quite a noob at these things

    Thanks for any help you can give

  • Chika Nkwocha

    its taking extremely long to turn back on I think it’s bricked

  • ovais

    my phone is shut down imediately after homescreen start.. what can i do

  • VIkrant

    today i flashed my karbonn a15 with sony xperia custom rom…i followed each & every step as mentioned above…but after flashing the sony xperia rom on my karbonn a15…i m having issue with sim card…phone doesnt detect any sim card while the same sim card is supporting in other phones..plz help

  • Nizam

    I rooted my my note 10.1 2013. In recovery it shows sd card not exist. What I should do please help me

  • Rafael A. Martinez Cruz

    Will I lose the data on my phone doing this process?

    • carl vivanco

      I didn’t

  • carl vivanco

    My Alcatel one touch fierce doesn’t have a flash recovery so now i can’t get a custom rom I think. I already rooted it from this site but what do i do now? Is there more stuff i can do to a rooted phone?