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I was on Android 4.4.4 KitKat and I made a nandroid backup. Now I'm on 5.0 Lollipop and I'm wondering, do I have to reinstall everything and go through the setup process again, or can I just use my 4.4.4 nandroid on my current 5.0 OS to get all my apps and stuff back?

I'm already rooted. I still have my recovery. I just need to know if I can restore an older backup to a newer OS or will it just revert me entirely back to 4.4.4.

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[Can I just use my 4.4.4 Nandroid on my current 5.0 OS to get all my apps and stuff back?]

Take a look at Nandroid Browser:

With Nandroid Manager you can restore data from your nandroid such as apps+data, text messages, call logs, and much more.

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Nandroid Manager currently supports nandroid backups created by TWRP and Clockworkmod (v5.xx and v6.xx) based recoveries.

If your backup meets the above criteria then go ahead (irrespective of 5.0 or 4.4) and use it to extract relevant data.

I just need to know if I can restore an older backup to a newer [OS] or will it just revert me entirely back to 4.4.4[?]

It depends upon what content you want to restore. If you choose to restore only Data then there could be some minor issues of app crashing or related stuff, but your OS won't revert back to 4.4.x. You still need to restore System, Boot, (possibly some other partitions too) to revert back to previous state.

Honestly, if the goal is to get the data, then I'll prefer Nandroid Browser. Else, I'll first take complete backup of my 5.0, then restore the Data of 4.4 on 5.0 to see whether everything runs smoothly.

Remember, do it in steps, if you choose to. It is possible that your Nandroid backup has some partitions whose size were changed during 5.0 update. Reverting haphazardly to 4.4 may lead to severe consequences. (e.g.: Yureka device hard-bricked when downgrading to Kitkat.)

  • Titanium Backup can also restore data from backup. Also, it is possible that the system apps data you recover from backup doesn't work on 5.0 for obvious upgrade reasons! – Firelord Jun 9 '15 at 22:35
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As usually warned during the nandroid backup process, you can only be sure of a successful restore of a nandroid backup to an IDENTICAL system, straight down to exact ROM version, as that's exactly what you're restoring: the entire ROM. Anything else ranges from ill-advised, because it will wipe out whatever ROM you're on, to guaranteed failure if the partition sizes differ (which, if I'm not mistaken, they do between 4.4 and 5.0). The normally-recommended process for hopping through ROMs is to use something like Titanium Backup to backup each of your apps that you care about individually, then restore them when you're on the new system. Still, FireLord's answer provides a more complete path using alternate methods.

  • This is not true, the point of Nandroid is to back up and restore all partitions -- which means overwriting the ROM. You'll only encounter issues if there were partition changes between the two versions. See android.stackexchange.com/a/64386/1465 – Matthew Read Jun 9 '15 at 23:17
  • Thank you for clarifying. But as you're overwriting the ROM, the resulting point is that it definitely can't be restored, as this user's requesting to do. It either overwrites the entire ROM successfully, removing 5.0, or fails because the partitions are different. Either way, the user doesn't get their data back on 5.0. And my understanding is that, indeed, the partitions are different between 4.4 and 5.0. – TurboFool Jun 9 '15 at 23:23

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