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).

  • kishor vivian

    Dear David, Please let me know the appropriate link for the safest Root and easiest Unroot for my Sony Xperia T2 Ultra having Android 4.3 Build Number 19.0.D.0.253

    • David Cogen

      Click on How Tos then find the manufacturer and phone and our procedure will be listed there.

  • Aaron DeArmitt

    could you tell me how to tell if the roms need S off?

  • ish

    i rooted my xperia tipo with android kitkat.. but after the final step..i.e phone is not onning

  • shihab

    can u help me for rooting

  • Ramkrishna Naik

    Hello ,
    Recently i tried updating zperience ROM to my Sony Xperia U from Ginger Bread.
    I have installed CWM , after extracting zip file from SD card and rebooting the system , mobile ends up in loop of sony logo and never it boots up properly. Kindly help me.
    I am updating only because of one issue , that is WiFi , it is not allowing me to turn on and after that it shows as Error and remains in that state always. Is there any fix available. Please suggest me what can be done. Thank you in advance.

  • Steve

    Hello, my phone is a huawei y200, am having problems with the touch screen firmware to a point that THE TOUCH NO LONGER WORKS, where can i possibly get this firmware

  • Ally Forsyth

    Managed to get all of this done, but when I go into Recovery mode and to install from SD card, my ROMs don’t appear. I can see them on the memory card when I turn the tablet on though.

    Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5.

    Any help would be much appreciated!

    • David Cogen

      Make sure they are still in zip format and also try to put the ROM in a different folder and see if that helps.

      • Ally Forsyth

        perfect, that worked! Now just trying to install the play store apps using CM11 ROM, proving a bit of a pain!

        • David Cogen

          Try doing a full wipe in recovery and reinstall the ROM to fix that :)

          • The truth Beyond the truth

            (I know this reply doesnt relate to you comment) I Installed the Rom Manager then On the recovery menu and instead of sayin “Flash clockworkmode recovery” it just said “Recovery setup”
            My phone is Motorola Moto e
            Also is there another way to increase internal memory?

  • Sufiyan Asif

    Everything is working properly dude this rom is awesome 4.4.4 version of android running very perfect….thanks alot

  • Patrick

    My device is not listed in clockworkmod recovery. what would i do my device is gt-s55700i

  • Prashanth Itzme

    Dear Friend I ve a problem like dis “E:Unable to mount ‘ /sdcard’ “. I had checked with different sd cards. i also checked it in PC. SD card is in working condition. Please Help.

  • drunk_swede

    I followed these three guides and now im stuck in a flash screen loop. What do i do?

    • David Cogen

      Get into recovery and wipe data then re flash the ROM. If that doesn’t work, then try and flash a different ROM.

      • drunk_swede

        I finally got into recoverymode after downloading a different costom recovery (I think). Then i loaded the default factory rom and now it runs again so now I dont dare touchinging it again.

        • David Cogen

          Glad you got it figured out. Sounds to me like you might be flashing roms that aren’t many for the device if they all don’t work (once in a while it happens is normal but every time isn’t).
          Again glad it’s at least working though.

  • Shakti Ag

    after carefully following all the steps mentioned above exactly, I selected Reboot from the CWM and my HTC Desire C starts up displays forever. Nothing is happening. I read all the steps very carefully and did exactly as described.
    The Zip file I selected compiled and there was no kind of errors anywhere. In the next step I reboot and its stuck there.
    Please guide. Im fed up with the Sense and Htc process speed.

    • David Cogen

      Boot back into recovery and wipe data then reflash the ROM. If that doesn’t work flash a different ROM

  • Michel

    What if I made a mistake and I can not restart my tablet. I can not put anything on my tablet. Can you help me? Please?

  • osama elsayed

    thanks for that , i have a problem , i did a root to my phone ” Huawei U8180 ” , i download a rom for it ” CM10 “… and put them in my memory card , so i did every thing right to install this rom ” wipe / factory restore … ” but when i choosed ” CM10 ” from my memory it said ” installing aborted ” and i choose restart phone to open it after this steps but it opens me a massege says ” sorry! the application market ( process com. android.vending ) has stopped unexpectedly.please try again ” so my phone can’t enter to the current rom , i hope to fix it ,so if u can help me i well be gratefull for u . thanks

    • David Cogen

      You need to contact the rom developer for that. In the meantime search our site or Google for how to Unroot your phone and do that to get it back to stock.

      • osama elsayed

        thanks master David

  • Danni Nielsen

    hii i have a htc one with no sd card slot.
    i tryed to root my device but somehow i deleted my rom its says no os installed.
    how can i install a new os without a sdcard.
    i am stuck at the htc screen, ibut i can get inside recovery menu but tryed all now

  • oshuA

    is anyone can help me ?? may phone is deadboot. can you give me a link for downloading rom for alcatel onetouch mpop 5020x flashiable via Sp Flash tools ?? TIA