Apply Update from ADB – What It Is and How It Works

By John Adebimitan

There are some situations where you’ll discover that you can’t download updates on your phone or you can’t install updates you’ve downloaded. This is often because your manufacturer isn’t providing further updates for your phone.

Generally, manufacturers specify the number of updates they allow for a device. When the device reaches its specified number of updates, it stops providing updates. In these cases, you can sideload the updates to your smartphone using ADB sideload method.

If you are looking to find out what ADB sideload is and how to apply update from ADB, you will find this guide helpful. In this article, you will get to know everything about the ADB feature.

What is ADB?

ADB is short for Android Debug Bridge. It is a command-line tool that allows you to communicate with any Android device connected to your PC.

With this tool, you can transfer data and gain control over a device’s filesystems. In addition, developers use this tool for debugging and deploying codes on Android devices as long as they can establish a host-target connection using a USB connection.

Due to the functionality of this tool, many people apply update from ADB when they are unable to receive regular OTA (Over-the-air updates).

People with knowledge of ADB and the Android operating system can usually enable features that influence user experience. For example, aside from debugging apps, they can also install third-party apps that aren’t on the Play Store.

With all of that being said, you should know that ADB is a client-server program that consists of three components;

  • The Clients: The Clients are the computer and Android devices involved in the process.
  • Daemon or The Client Service: Daemon is a Client Service that needs to be present on the computer and Android device to allow communication through commands.
  • The Server: The Server is the software that manages all the communications between the “Clients” and “Daemon.”

What is ADB Sideload?

Before you know what ADB sideload is, you need first to understand what Sideloading means. Sideloading is a term that’s similar in functionality to uploading/downloading. It involves the process of installing apps and software from an external source.

This system is what people use to apply update from ADB.

ADB sideload itself refers to installing or sideloading apps and software using ADB. It involves the transfer of data between an Android device and a PC.

Things to Check Before You Apply Update From ADB

You need to do some things before you apply update using ADB. These things include:

  1. Charging your device above 75% to ensure that your device won’t run out of battery during the update process.
  2. Get a USB cable.
  3. Activate developer mode and enable USB debugging on your device.
  4. Install the required device drivers on your PC
  5. Download all the required files, which include zip files.
  6. Download and install Android SDK on your PC.
  7. Install the ADB driver on your PC

Precautions to Take When You Want to Apply Update From ADB

  1. Before you do any other thing, you need to make sure that you always back up your phone before applying any update. One way to do this is by copying all the data on your device into your computer. For example, make sure you copy every picture, video, and contact on your phone.
  2. If you want to apply update from ADB onto a device, you need to make sure you disconnect all other devices connected to the PC.
  3. As mentioned earlier, you need to ensure that you always charge your device before you apply update from ADB. This will help prevent interruptions that can occur due to low battery.
  4. Start the update procedure slowly so that the device doesn’t begin to hand when the procedure becomes more intense.
  5. Ensure that you use the latest tools when you want to apply update from ADB.
  6. You can disable all wireless connections by turning ON airplane mode.

How to Apply Updates from ADB – Step-by-Step

You can apply updates from ADB, just like the option on the Android system recovery screen implies. Applying the update can be done by connecting your Android device to your computer and then using a command line to send and install the update onto your phone. Below is a step-by-step guide to applying an update from ADB.

  • STEP 1: Charge your phone battery and make sure that it is fully charged (or at least more than 60%) before unplugging from the power source.
  • STEP 2: Enable debugging via USB.
  • STEP 3: Install device drivers on a computer.
  • STEP 4: Download the required file (file.zip). Be sure to download files from trusted sources only so as not to harm the computer (it is recommended that you use the services of the portals of the manufacturer of the smartphone).
  • STEP 5: Download Android SDK on your computer.
  • STEP 6: Download the Platform-Tools package on your computer (This is a special tool necessary to install custom recovery and root the phone). 
  • STEP 7: Unzip the zip. File.
  • STEP 8: Connect your Android phone to the computer with a USB cable and ensure that the computer detects it.
  • STEP 9: Open the unzipped folder and hold the “shift” key, then right-click your mouse.
  • STEP 10: Choose “open command window here.” A command window will show up next.
  • STEP 11: Enter the command “ADB devices.” This helps to check if ADB is properly installed and compatible with your computer. Getting a serial number followed by “device” means your ADB is working correctly.
  • STEP 12: Now, move the update.zip file to the Platform-tools folder.
  • STEP 13: Boot your smartphone into recovery mode. Turn OFF the phone, then hold the volume control key for a few seconds. Use the same keys to choose the “apply update from ADB” option and then click on “power.”
  • STEP 14: Go back to the computer and type “ADB sideload firmware file name” in the command prompt window and then the zip. file will be sent to your Android. Your Android will open the file and verify it. The zip. file will be sideloaded and written in your Android. The process will take a long time. Do not stop the process halfway, as the file will not open after, and you will have to repeat the steps. When it is completed, you will see “Install from ADB complete” on the screen. 

Note: If “error: closed” is displayed, it means that the sideload was not activated on your Android.

If “error: device not found” is displayed, it means that the PC did not see Android. To fix the problem, change the kernel, recover, reboot the device, and start all over again.

How To Update An ADB Installation To The Latest Version

There are several methods to update an ADB installation to the latest version. One of the simplest methods is to get the latest platform tools and combine them with a bash alias for convenience.

Doing this will enable you to create a new ‘Android’ directory at the root of your home directory. Then, you can change the paths using the example below if you prefer a different location.

mkdir ~/Android && cd ~/Android

After doing that, download and extract the platform tools from Google:

Full code line:

wget https://dl.google.com/android/repository/platform-tools_r33.0.3-linux.zip && unzip platform-tools-latest-linux.zip

By now, the latest ADB and other tools will be able to run directly from the newly extracted ‘platform-tools’ directory. It would be best if you uninstalled obsolete packages to avoid conflicts.

Overall, all you need to do to update your ADB is to ‘cd’ the Android directory and repeat the download and extract step again. After that, you can use the ADB version to check the version you currently have installed.

How Do I Update Software Using ADB?

  1. Firstly, you need to download the required Update file. You need to ensure that you download from a trusted source. XDA has a dedicated forum for different phones. Find the one for your phone type and download it from there.
  2. After you have downloaded the file, rename it as update.zip.
  3. Connect your device to your PC using a compatible USB cable.
  4. What you need to do next is to copy the updat zip file to the desktop.
  5. Now for Windows, when you are on the desktop, press Shift + Right-click simultaneously and select “Open PowerShell window here” or “Open command window here.”
  6. For Mac, open the Terminal by right-clicking on the desktop and then selecting Terminal.
  7. Inside the Command prompt or Terminal, type” ADB reboot recovery.” Your phone will open up in recovery mode.
  8. When your phone opens up recovery mode, select Apply update from ADB. Use the volume keys to move up and down and the Power key to select.
  9. After the selection, type “adb sideload Update.zip” on your command prompt. This will make the file start a flashing process.
  10. Wait for the flashing process to finish, then reboot the device by holding the power key.

These steps will enable you to apply update from ADB. Upon completion, your device will reboot, and the software will be updated.

How Do I Use ADB Recovery?

Follow these steps to use ADB recovery.

  1. After installing ADB, connect your phone to your PC via a USB cable. Make sure that you have enabled USB Debugging on your phone
  2. Locate the folder where you stored your installed ADB
  3. Type ADB devices and press enter to ensure that your device is connected correctly

When you are done with that, follow these steps to start the Recovery Console from the F8 boot menu:

  1. Restart your PC
  2. After the booting process, press the F8 key
  3. Choose the option that says “Repair PC”
  4. Then click the Next button
  5. Choose your Username
  6. Enter your password and click OK
  7. Choose the option “Command Prompt”

How to Enable Developer Options and USB Debugging on Your Android Device for ADB To Work

You need to enable USB debugging on your device before ADB can work. It is usually disabled by default for security reasons.

You can follow the steps below to enable USB debugging.

  1. Go to Settings on your device
  2. Move to the About section
  3. Then, go to Software Information
  4. In Software Information, move to build number and tap on it 7 times to enable Developer options
  5. After doing that, your Developer Mode will become active.
  6. Go back to settings, and you will be able to find the Developer options below the About phone setting
  7. Find the debugging option and turn on USB debugging.

How to Install ADB Drivers on Windows

  1. Open your browser
  2. Search Google for Platform Tools and then find developer.android.com
  3. Go ahead to download the zip file of the SDK Platform-Tools for Windows
  4. Extract the files with WinRAR/WinZip
  5. Click on ADB drivers universal EXE file.
  6. Then connect your device to your PC with the aid of the USB cable
  7. When you connect your device, the ADB tool will be able to show your device’s manufacturer name and status
  8. You can proceed to click on the install button and wait for the process to finish
  9. A popup message will ask you to Allow USB debugging when the process finishes. Click Yes.

How to Install ADB Drivers on Mac

  1. Search for the Platform-tools zip file for Mac and download it
  2. Extract the zip file to a separate folder and copy the location of the folder
  3. Open the Command prompt or Terminal to change the directory of the extracted file. You can do this by typing cd/”the copied path to the ADB folder”
  4. Connect your device to your Mac using the supported USB cable.
  5. In the terminal window type, type – ADB devices
  6. A popup screen will appear, asking you to allow USB debugging. Click OK and type ADB devices
  7. If your device is connected, it will appear in the terminal window. You can then apply update from ADB when you want to.

How to Exit Apply Update From ADB

To exit apply update from ADB mode, press the Power and Volume UP button for 10 seconds. If this doesn’t work, try taking out your device’s battery.

If you can’t take out your device’s battery, follow this procedure:

  1. Install ADB on PC
  2. Connect your device to your PC using a USB cable
  3. Enter the following command on your PC’s Command prompt

adb sideload /dev/null

Your device will bring up an error message saying the file is not valid, but it will exit the apply update from ADB state.

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