Tools and Tricks to Assist the Avid ROM Flasher

If you’ve rooted your phone, you’ve been there. You’re deep into your rooting addiction and have flashed yet another meticulously-chosen custom ROM onto your beloved phone – and then have had the pain of trying to set everything you back to the way you had it in the days of yester-ROM. After much dismay and lost data I have often turned to other applications to help me. So have no fear, because I have a few valuable tricks up my sleeve. If you do use custom ROMs and need some help restoring things to the way you like them, these tricks will definitely help.

Restoring Contacts

First and foremost you want to make sure your contacts are in order. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re all synced with Gmail and VZ-Backup then, boom! Nothing’s there.

Go to Your Contacts/People App > Menu > View. Each contact needs to be saved under Gmail. If all your contacts are not incorporated into Gmail and are saved to the phone or sim-card, let’s focus on that real quick. Uncheck Gmail, after it loads look in your contacts and and check them off and export those to your SD card. Once that is completed, re-check Gmail contacts and uncheck the others. Then import them from your SD card into your Gmail. If you flash new ROMs often, it’s really hard to keep all your contacts organized unless they are synced to one area.

The services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn save all the data themselves to the Cloud so that’s not something you’ll need to worry about at the moment.

Your selection of view can be made here

Restoring Apps and Data

So let’s just assume you did all this and before you decide to flash another ROM you have to wipe your data and Dalvik cache. Well, check these apps out first.

The basic addition to your app list should be Titanium Backup (free)Titanium Backup Pro ($6.58), this is where you can save apps as well as the data they have accrued through use. This is for rooted user only as I’m sure you already know.

More experienced users can use the nandroid backup in their recovery to make sure they can get back everything the way they had it. But sometimes you just like to start fresh and get rid of those applications you never use so you just don’t use the backup. You can pick and choose in Titanium which apps to install and which ones you want your data returned from. All settings as well as user data can be saved and or deleted. You can freeze and defrost apps to keep them just the way you want. In the menu you can choose from specific Batches to run as seen below.

This is where you choose what to backup

There are a ton of options within Titanium, you can even set up sync schedules to sync new data and apps on particular days day so you don’t have to keep track. This is a lifesaver if you can’t remember the name of an application you had in the past. You could also log in to market.android.com and check your downloads from a desktop and see what you might have forgotten that way as well.

Another great application you’ll need is a file browser, like Astro File Manager (free), Es File Explorer (free) or Root Explorer ($3.99). With these you can edit saved items on your SD-Card from your handset.

Organized folders in Astro on SD-Card

Gingerbread gives you a download app integrated into the system that lets you browse files you’ve downloaded. With Root Explorer, for the extra buck, you can edit system files – which can be really handy if you know what you’re doing. With each of these you can organize your pictures and downloaded content, such as ROMs and radios, into folders. This helps tremendously in the long run. My 32GB micro-SD card loves me for keeping it not-so-cluttered. It really comes in handy when you’re swapping ROMs every so often and forget which one was which.

Test Before You Flash

Speaking of swapping ROMs, here’s a nifty little thing recently released that lets you run a custom rom from within a window so that you can test it out before deleting your user data and flashing it. It’s called Boot Manager and for $2.99 you cannot beat it. It allows you to demo the ROM and see if there’s anything you like or dislike before erasing all your data.

After being a flash-a-holic for such a long time and being so impatient, I have lost so much data. This app enables you to test a ROM before actually diving in – what a wonderful thing for avid ROM flashers! Usually our kind, flash-aholics, don’t think a ton before downloading the latest and getting it on our phones. What this allows you to do is take a look first so that you don’t need to go back and forth. If you’ve been happy with a ROM and flashed another just because you saw a screenshot you liked and were unhappy with a sudden screen freeze or something that was left out you usually flash right back.

Side Note

On a side note, there is an application I’d like to mention called Rom Toolbox (with a Pro version available for $5.00). It has so many features I could literally go on for pages listing them and the benefits but here’s a few I like: batch backup and restore; automatically backup apps once installed; and automated batch uninstaller (available in the Pro version).

It allows a ton of customization as well, and we all know that’s the main reason you rooted in the first place!