Upgrading My Nexus 5 to Lollipop

I love a clean start. There’s nothing like the feel of a smartphone (or PC) after a factory reset.

I’m using my Nexus 5 for almost a year now. For a while, I’ve been wanting to do a factory reset and start clean. The upcoming Lollipop upgrade is exactly the push I needed to do it.

My game plan:

  1. Before upgrading:
    1. Perform general app cleanup, so I upgrade only with the apps I want.
    2. Document my settings and configuration (system and apps), so I can re-apply it if needed.
    3. Backup data.
  2. Upgrade.
  3. After upgrading:
    1. Restore apps, data, settings and configuration, as needed.
    2. Explore what new built-in features can replace 3rd party apps I’m using. I always prefer built-in over 3rd party.

Initially, I planned to wait for the OTA update. I figured it would simplify the process, and should reach my device soon enough. Google started rolling out the OTA on November 12th 2014. Like most Android updates, this rollout was in “waves”. 3 days later, the waves still didn’t reach my Nexus 5.

With the factory images already available, I started wondering why I’m waiting for the OTA over going manual. I figured that the only downside of going manual with the factory image is having to perform full wipe to unlock the bootloader. That doesn’t bother me, since I want to factory reset any way!

I decided to pursue the manual upgrade route, which I describe in this post.

Warning: This process requires using the fastboot tool over USB from a terminal. While not too complicated, it does require being comfortable with doing such things. Also, enabling USB debugging and unlocking the bootloader exposes your device to extra security risks (even if for a short time). Proceed with caution, or prefer going the OTA route.

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