I like trying out different Android-based operating systems and custom recoveries on my phone.

A custom recovery is basically a small operating system on your phone that you can boot into, allowing you to do things like flashing a new operating system or overwriting certain partitions. If you have used Magisk before, you’ve probably used a custom recovery to flash a patched boot image to root your phone.

The basic steps to installing a recovery are the following:

  • Make sure you have adb and fastboot installed on your PC
  • Put the phone in fastboot mode (usually by pressing the power button and volume down button at the same time while booting)
  • Run fastboot devices to make sure the device is visible to fastboot
    • This is where I had the first problem, a fix for Windows 11 is described below
  • Flash the recovery image
    • This is where I had a second problem: the flashing process seemed to be stuck forever. There’s a fix for that as well.

So now let’s get into installing a custom recovery.

Make the device visible to fastboot

To install a custom recovery, we use the fastboot tool. If you don’t have it installed, visit the official Android developer page and download the latest version for your operating system.

Put your device into fastboot mode and make sure it is recognized:

fastboot devices

In my case, the device didn’t show up in this list despite being in fastboot mode.

It took me ages to find the fix for that, so I decided to write this post to help others who might run into the same problem.

At first I installed the Universal ADB Drivers and made sure my adb and fastboot tools were at the latest version. However, neither of these fixed the problem.

At some point I found something interesting in the Windows 11 Update Settings: when going to Windows Update > Advanced Options > Optional Updates, there were some driver updates related to Android tools. I installed them and listed the devices again. This time, my device showed up.

Flashing the recovery image

Now it was time to flash the recovery image.

Installing a new custom recovery is rather easy if you know a bit on how to use command-line tools. When I recently installed OrangeFox, I downloaded the version for my phone (yours will very likely be different, so check your device codename etc!), unzipped the zip file and ran the following command in the folder where the recovery image was located:

fastboot flash recovery recovery.img

Fastboot was able to find my device, but the flashing process seemed to be stuck forever. After a few minutes I unplugged my phone, plugged it back in and also rebooted into fastboot mode. However, on the next attempt the flashing process was still stuck. Using different USB cables and ports didn’t help either.

What did fix the problem was the following:

  1. Make sure the device is in fastboot mode
  2. Unplug the device from the computer
  3. Now run the following command:

     fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
  4. This should show the < waiting for any device > message
  5. Plug the device back in and wait for the flashing process to finish
  6. Now flashing the recovery took around 2 seconds to complete

While a bit of a weird hack, in the end these were the steps that worked. I hope this helped you fix the problem as well.