How to Force your Nexus S into ClockworkMod Recovery!

A lot of people have been telling me that they can’t get into ClockworkMod recovery to save their life, even if they’ve flashed the recovery in fastboot a thousand times.  Well, that happened to me after trying to get into CWM after installing the latest ICS ROM.

This is some kind of security added after Android 2.3.6 ROMs that messes up your ability to get into CWM.

If this happens to you, you can still boot into CWM by flashing recovery to boot partition.  This will basically boot your phone into CWM every time until you flash a new ROM.

Simply put your Nexus S into fastboot mode first then connect to your computer.

Then flash recovery image into boot by typing:

fastboot boot recovery3101.img

For Nexus S, you will need this Nexus S recovery:

Download Nexus S recovery

For Nexus S 4G, you will need this Nexus S 4G recovery:

Download Nexus S 4G recovery

These are old recovery images but they will work for you.  Just install a new ROM and flash the latest recovery from ROM Manager.  Most ROMs have the security feature removed so after installing a ROM this problem should no longer happen.  But if it does, you know how to get your CWM back.

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25 Responses to How to Force your Nexus S into ClockworkMod Recovery!

  1. Ronak says:

    I tried this but then it saying that
    ( downloading ‘boot.img’ …
    FAILED <command write failed > time: 0.637s

  2. Ricardo says:

    I did:
    $fastboot flash recovery recovery3101.img

    instead, and then reflashed the updated CWM from the ROM Manager and now it all works fine (going to fastboot and then recovery option, which got me to the stock recovery, before)

    Hope it helps somebody 🙂

  3. david says:

    If you want to the CW recovery to remain permanently, you’ll need to rename /etc/ to something thing else

  4. aroon says:

    does this method (especially CWM image file) work with i9023 (S-LCD) version?

  5. Laith says:

    you can install the ROM MANAGER and you should flash clockworkmod recovery but you should be connected to internet and then when you want to enter the recovrey mod you can enter it through the ROM manager

  6. wilson says:

    i had the same problem but on rom manager i went to the last option (bottom) and downloaded CWM and i chosed the second one (top to bottom) then i turned off the phone then on + volume up and went to recovery n there u gop everything was perfect

  7. Christopher W says:

    Thank you so much, my phone went months without any recovery at all. Not even the Android’s recovery for system updates were working. Everything is fixed from the one command line after hours and hours of searching forms.

  8. errico says:

    I used your guides to unlock my nexus S.
    It worked.
    I used your guide to force clockworkmod to work.
    That worked.
    I tried to do something on my phone that required root access …
    I downloaded Root Check Basic app to my phone and it says my phone isn’t rooted properly.
    I don’t know what else to do…
    Where do I go from here?

    • errico says:

      All I know is when I fastboot it says LOCK STATE – UNLOCKED.
      But I don’t really have root access… apps that require root access don’t work.
      What is the problem?

    • Oliverhet says:

      I have the same problem. Has anyone found a solution?

    • Sydney says:

      not sure if this is the write answer but i had the similar problem. And this is very delayed so you might have found a solution
      I had a system update on my Nexus S to ICS4.0. Tried my rooted apps and they didnt work.
      So what i did was root the phone again and it solved the problem. I rooted it using superuser

  9. Ovidiu says:

    How do I do this on Ubuntu?

  10. Gregor says:

    Damn, why I didn’t find this site earlier. It would save me so much time 🙂

  11. ash leigh says:

    im having issues with all of it. i tried unlocking the phone. that does not work. it will do everything it is suppose to up to the point of the unlock. when i prompt to yes and hit the power button it freezes and i have to pull battery. i cant recover through regular boot. and i cant recover through this. because it tells me bootloader lock. some one please help me. my goal is to unlock it. but when i got the phone it would not boot at all. so i thought maybe i could just unlock it and change to ics. seems i cant unlock or reboot to stock. HELP IV BEEN AT IT FOR HOURS AND IM NOT THIS TECHNICAL>

  12. James says:

    This is awesome, it worked thanks!!

  13. alvin says:

    it is working on rooted stock ICS nexus s?

  14. Zaher says:

    i try to unlock my nexus s i9020 but i cant what i can i do?

  15. Juan Escarcha says:

    I also have been having problems getting to recovery, I really want to unroot the damn phone but now I can’t do it.

    In my case I followed the instructions and all I got was this message:
    sending “recovery” (4036 KB)

    I am incredibly frustrated, if anyone knows what I’m doing wrong please help.

  16. Anshuman says:

    There is a rather easier method.

    Use root explorer or file explorer and rename /system/etc/ to something else. Flash CWM recovery from ROM Manager. This will make CWM recovery permanent.

  17. Kevin says:

    Hey, I tried recovering many times and for some reason a little windows popped up saying “Unfortunately, setup wizard has stopped.” How can i fix this?

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