How to manually update your Nexus without wiping data

As an owner of a Nexus 6 smartphone, I have enjoyed the freedom of updating the Android version on my own schedule rather than waiting for a manufacturer to push it out. Many fellow Nexus 6 owners continue to wait patiently for their phone to automatically update as if they don’t know how to do this step manually. If you’re one of these users, this is how you do it! (Best part, this applies to all nexus devices.)

What you will need:

Nexus Factory Image:
ADB and Fastboot:

The longest part of the whole process is downloading the Google factory image, which is a package of the Android operating system as if the phone or tablet is coming right from the factory. Downloading it isn’t difficult, but it may take more time waiting on the download than to install it. You can download any Nexus factory image from the following link:

Be sure to download the proper one for your Nexus. While the link above provides directions to installing the factory image, thus updating your phone or tablet, these steps will erase your entire device.

If you wish to keep all of you data, settings, app, etc., download the proper factory image and continue follow the steps below:

First you will need ADB and Fastboot, which is a part of the Android SDK. However, Shimp208, a developer at, has provided a small install package to provide users with ADB and Fastboot without the entire Android SDK. You can find that here: then install it.

You may also need a program capable of extracting tgz files. If you don’t have one or are unsure, you can download WinRAR for free, which is capable of doing this:

Once we have the required tools, you can begin following these steps:

  1. Copy the factory image to the installed location of ADB and Fastboot. The Factory Image should be in the same folder as fastboot.exe and adb.exe
  2. Right click on the factory image and choose to extract it with WinRAR
  3. Open the extracted folder and right click the zip folder and choose to extract this as well.
  4. Open the new extracted folder, you should see several .img files.
  5. Copy the .img files you want to install (I recommend boot.img, system.img, bootloader.img in the previous folder, and radio.img from the previous folder).
  6. Paste these img files in the same folder as adb.exe and fastboot.exe.
  7. Power off your Nexus.
  8. Turn on your Nexus and hold power + volume down until you boot into the bootloader screen – it is generally all black.
  9. Connect your Neuxs to your PC – let drivers install if it attempts to install them.
  10. Hold shift and right click on empty space in the folder containing adb.exe and fastboot.exe.
  11. Choose Open command window here.

You can now type the following commands to install the img files:

  1. fastboot flash bootloader bootloader.img (NOTE: bootloader.img must be the exact file name of the img file you are installing. Same applies for all img files).
  2. fastboot flash radio radio.img
  3. fastboot flash system system.img
  4. fastboot flash boot boot.img
  5. fastboot restart

If you decided to flash the userdata.img file, you would have erased all of your data, apps, etc.

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