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Since CM is based on stock Android (AOSP), and the Nexus 7 is a stock device, can I just flash the CM zip without first doing a wipe/factory reset?

I just wonder if it's possible to avoid the hassle of backing up and restoring all my apps and settings, widgets, email settings, etc...

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

What you are describing is what's known as a "dirty flash" which is a no-no! Especially from AOSP to CM and vice-versa, could lead all sorts of force closes etc. Likewise, [a particular custom ROM (insert of your choice)] to another but different [custom ROM (insert of your choice)] and vice-versa.

The only time a dirty flash can be performed if going from CM nightly to the latest nightly, or [custom ROM] to a more recent version of same [custom ROM], theoretically, although no guarantees that everything will work "proper". Occasionally force-closes will be exhibited or some "weirdness" will manifest, hence no guarantees.

Really, if going from one ROM to another - best to wipe cache/data completely provided a backup has been done in the first place :)

Why not use a backup tool such as Titanium Backup or the basic backup tools found on the Play store in the event you are not rooted? :)

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Yeah, I know. But it's still a huge effort, even with Titanium Backup. I'm very particular about my widgets and icons, and I never remember where they were. Plus I use app-specific passwords so I have to delete them all and re-generate them. It's really a pain in the ___ despite Titanium. –  Ozzah Mar 24 '13 at 2:19
    
If you write down your app-specific passwords, they can be used again. I keep my app-specific password for my phone stored on the computer (mainly because there was a time when I was wiping quite often for testing and it was a pain to recreate the password every time). Definitely not the most secure, but the computer is secure enough that if someone were able to get in, access to my Google account is the last thing I'd be worried about. –  bassmadrigal Apr 9 '13 at 19:11
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Not recommended. You'll more than likely run into issues and just eventually have to wipe and reset anyway.

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