Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How to: Use "adb sideload" on your Android device

Probably every Android power-user at least once in his life used ADB - Android Debug Bridge. It is a versatile command line tool that lets you communicate with an emulator instance or connected Android-powered device. Using ADB shell commands gives you additional control over your device and sometimes it can save your device from being bricked (example: How to: copy ROM zip file to the freshly wiped device). You can find some more basic information about ADB here.

Since Android Jelly Bean there has been a new ADB mode available in the AOSP recovery, incorporated by the Android developer community into custom recoveries too. It is called "ADB sideload" and most of you probably have heard about it already. This is an alternate method to the one I wrote about here - How to: copy ROM zip file to the freshly wiped device. The main difference is that ADB sideload works only with recoveries based on Jelly Bean source or newer. I believe that ADB sideload was created to simplify the process of flashing/restoring Android packages.

Keep in mind that while using ADB sideload, the regular ADB shell won't work. To be able to use SIDELOAD mode make sure you're running latest ADB drivers from the Android SDK (Platform-tools). Here are the simple steps you need to follow to flash package using adb sideload mode (based on stock Android recovery):
  1. Place the ZIP package you want to install in the same location where you keep ADB drivers - adb.exe, AdbWinApi.dll and AdbWinUsbApi.dll (usually it's SDK\platform-tools)
  2. Make sure you have USB debugging enabled in Settings > Development on your device
  3. Make sure your phone drivers are installed on the PC you're going to use
  4. Boot your device in recovery mode (Android logo with a exclamation mark) and connect your device to PC
  5. Hold down "power" button first, followed quickly by "volume up" button. You should now see the recovery menu
  6. Use the volume up/down keys to select "apply update from ADB," then press power to select it
  7. Open a command prompt on the PC (cmd.exe), type and confirm with ENTER:
  8. cd /d <adb.exe location> (for example: cd /d c:\SDK\platform-tools) or you can open your SDK/platform-tools folder, then press SHIFT button and the right-click mouse button and choose “Open command prompt here
  9. adb sideload <filename>.zip (for example: adb sideload
  10. The zip package will begin installing. When it's done, select "reboot system now."
How is that different from the alternative method? You don't have to manually create the proper folders structure, push the file and later install if from inside the recovery menu. The result is basically the same, because ADB sideload is also transferring the zip file into the device internal memory and later it automatically begins the installation procedure. However, it works only with recoveries based on Android Jelly Bean source.

Have any questions or comments? Feel free to share! Also, if you like this article, please use media sharing buttons (Twitter, G+, Facebook) below this post!


  1. Well, adb sideload helped me for instants while playing around with new firmware or also by re-locking the device when the content of the virtual sd card is being wiped...

  2. The problem with ADB Sideload is that if for some reason Aroma crashes or a similiar scenario, then you have to begin the sideload again. With 'adb push', the file remains on your device.

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