Saturday, January 15, 2011

How to Update your Droid X if you’ve removed bloatware and can’t get updates AND KEEP ALL YOUR DATA! (The Easy Way)

If you’re like me and removed all the extra bloatware the Droid X comes shipped with (Blockbuster, CityId, Amazon, etc)  you’ve probably already found out that you can no longer get updates from Motorola. I’ll try to save you the month and a half of Googling I had to do and explain why and how to fix it, and how NOT to fix it. As a side note, this should work for changing out any ROM on your Droid.  If you’re like me, you’re incorrectly assuming that this update will wipe your phone and you have to reinstall everything from scratch. Wrong! I didn’t know it would do this, but apparently upgrading the original factory ROM just replaces the missing files on the phone. It doesn’t wipe the phone like you would do if you were doing a reset. When this was all done I was very happy to see that all my apps, preferences, and everything else was just like it was before I started except I now could get the upgrade.

Why you can’t get updates:

Chances are you wanted to speed up your Droid a little and get rid of those running processes you’ll never use. You rooted your phone, deleted the apps and then your Droid ran a little faster and you were happy for awhile, right?

Here’s the rub; and I’m not a fan of Motorola doing this personally, but I guess I understand why they do it:

There are certain applications your Droid X came with that you can remove. There are others that you can NOT remove without Rooting your Droid. If you remove these apps you can’t get future updates for the Droid X.


Reinstalling the Apps Necessary to Update the Droid X

Some of you have already tried the obvious trick that came to my mind; just put the apps back on the phone and then update! Wrong. That won’t work either because Motorola installed those apps from the System level, and your user profile on the Droid doesn’t have the permission to put the applications back with the same permissions they were previously installed with. It doesn’t matter why, so don’t bother yourself with it. It’s just the root of the problem (if you’ll pardon the bad pun). 

Now, there ARE tools out there if you’re a Linux geek that can help you restore the applications one by one, and then you can run command line arguments at root level to reapply system permissions to these folders. After two hours of searching out the right software do to it, then figuring out how to adjust my environment variables in Windows 7x64 I was no closed to having my problem fixed so I searched for another way to do it. That way was just WAY too complicated. Plus, if you can do that, you’re probably not reading this page anyway. Instead you’re laughing at me, feeling sorry for n00bs like me while reading LifeHacker on your Linux box in your Spiderman T-shirt.


Giving Credit Where It Is Due

Just because I wrote this how-to doesn’t mean I’m the brains here. I’d like to give credit to the person who wrote it up for me so I could understand it. Thanks go to “BBCrackman” at Droid World for his post. If you’d like, you can read his article here. After he wrote his article, there were tons and tons of comments similar to problems I was having, and a lot of modifications offered by others that led me to my solution, so I thought I’d re-post the fix with a little more information geared to the non-android-programmers out there (like me).

Fixing your Droid: Getting the Tools you need

Ok, enough talking. You’re only here to figure out how to fix your Droid X and get updates, so let’s get to the meat of it.

You’re going to need one, possibly two programs and one file to do this, and your Droid USB cable.

Note: I did this on Windows 7 64-bit. The programs should work the same for you but I can’t guarantee anything on another operating system.

  1. Download RSD Lite (Download here) RSD Lite is a windows-based program that will allow you to install the SBF file on your Droid. The SBF file is the original factory ROM (programming) for the Droid X, version 2.2. Once you have this installed correctly, you can update to whatever current version you choose.
  2. Download the official SBF file for Droid 2.2 (Download here) The mirror sites for this file gave me a really hard time. I think the one that finally worked for me was the third mirror on the page, MegaUpload. The file is 434mb and downloads very slowly. I’m putting up my own mirror for the file, so if you’d like it, leave a comment with your email address and I’ll send you the link. I’m not going to post it here publicly because my server would likely get hammered by people needing the SBF.
  3. Download Motorola Mobile Phone USB Drivers. (Download here) You might not need this program if RSD finds your phone the first time, but I had to install it on mine for it to work properly.

Step 1: Remove Software

Uninstall EVERY Motorola program you have on your computer. Don’t have any Motorola sync software left when you start this!! I skipped this advice on mine and it only finally worked when I listened to the others and deleted the other Motorola sync software. Apparently some of those programs change the USB driver and RSD Lite won’t be able to see your Droid X. If it can’t see your phone, then you can’t run the update.

Step 2: Install Software on your PC

Install RSD Lite. It’s easy and will only take a minute. Once it’s installed, go ahead and install the Motorola USB Drivers, mentioned above. You can wait and see if RSD Lite works without you needing to install the drivers. That’s up to you.

Step 3: Connect your phone

Connect your phone to your computer and start RSD lite.

  • Be sure you’re set in to PC Mode, and Debugging Mode.

After a few seconds you should see a screen like this one below.


See the blue highlighted line? That means RSD lite detected my Droid correctly. Highlight the line on your computer and click the Show Device button at the top to see the info you see in the top of the picture. It’s just your phone’s basic information.

What to do if RSD Lite doesn’t see your phone:

I can’t really help you in specific with this part because it could be a hundred different reasons why. Do what I did; go to Google and type “RSD Lite won’t see my phone” and hunt until you find a solution for your particular computer. My solution was to do what I mentioned before: remove all the Motorola software. Then I had to install the Motorola USB drivers and it worked like a charm.

Step 4: Press Start and Wait

Click the “…” icon on RSD lite and browse to the SBF file you downloaded. Press Start. Walk away for about 15 minutes. Yes I know like you feel like an expectant parent in a delivery room during your child’s labor… “Oh god, it is gonna be ok? Is it gonna work? Is it gonna die?” Just go get a macchiato and relax. If you’ve come this far you’re OK.

What happens at this point:

I admit I was a little scared at this point. I’m picturing my phone being a brick if this goes wrong, just like you probably are and trying to figure out what I can do to it to make it look like an accident when I carry it back to the Verizon store and pretend to claim it just quit working. Your phone screen will probably go dark, reboot, and then say something like “SW Update” for a few minutes. You can watch the progress bar on the RSD Lite program to see how far along you are. After a few minutes of that I received the android update animation.. that yellow bar you’re used to seeing get to about 30% and fail. Remember that one? Well it got to about 30% again and then just appeared to hang… BUT.. after I looked closer I could see it was still going. Then it slowly made it’s way up to 100% and the phone rebooted. Once it’s done your phone will come back on and you’ll have the new version.

Step 5: Your Phone Might Not Work…

Yeah, I freaked out too. There was a blue triangle icon on my home screen notification area and I couldn’t make any calls, couldn’t send texts, etc. I freaked out at first, knowing I’d bricked it. Actually you haven’t bricked it… it’s just like it came from the factory, with the exceptions that it’s got no account information in its ROM.  If you want to verify, go to the Phone Status screen under settings and look at your phone number. It’s probably not showing correctly. It’s an easy fix.

  • Dial *228
  • Press 2. This will deactivate roaming and put you back on the network.
  • Hang up when done.
  • Dial *228 again.
  • Press 1. This will “activate” the phone on verizon’s network and tell the phone what number it is. Verizon already has all that information stored based on your serial number, so you just need to tell the phone to go get the information again. This might take as long as a minute, but that’s about it.

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