HTC Evo Shift Running Out of Space

I’ve written previously about how to root the HTC Evo Shift. In that post, I identified the Android ROM I ended up using. For the last 9+ months, I’ve been incredibly happy with my EVO Shift without making any significant changes. I guess this is somewhat rare among people who tend to root their Android devices, but I don’t have a lot of time to waste playing with tweaks and mods. Consequently, once I find something nice and stable that performs well, I tend to stick with it.

Recently, however, my Evo Shift has been low on space quite a lot. For the last month or so, I’ve founded myself uninstalling some apps, double-checking some others to make sure they’d been moved to the SD card (another luxury that actually works on a rooted device), and frequently deleting the browser’s cache. These have all been band-aid attempts at freeing up space so that basic functions would work (such as GMail sync).

Finally, I’d had enough. I decided that it would be worth it to revisit the forums around rooting, tweaking, modding and hacking Android devices. Since I’d had such a great experience with the ROM I download last October, I decided to try out and see if they’d done anything new. Thankfully, they had!

Checking out this thread, I downloaded the MikShifted-G v2.1 ROM. This ROM features Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread), HTC Sense, and lots and lots of tweaks and mods.

Something New: Titanium Backup

One thing I did differently this time was that I downloaded Titanium Backup from the Google Play store. After testing it out a little bit, I opted for the paid version because it added some great, worthwhile enhancements. I had already fulled backed up my Evo Shift via Nandroid, which comes with Clockwork Recovery, but I wanted to be able to restore certain data. In particular, my daughter has made lots of progress on the 3 versions of Angry Birds that I keep on my device for her amusement (OK… for mine too), and some other games & apps had data that wouldn’t have otherwise survived the upgrade. Titanium Backup permits the backup and restoration of this kind of data. I specifically used it to back up the data before proceeding with installing my shiny new ROM.

So… here’s what the steps looked like for me this time:

  1. Download the ROM (.zip file) and copy it to the device’s SD card. I did this from my laptop and transferred it via a USB cable. You could theoretically just downloaded the .zip using the phone, but I was doing all my reading and research from my laptop.
  2. Perform a full Nandroid backup
  3. Reboot the device
  4. Install Titanium Backup, then backup data from specific games/apps
  5. Reboot to Clockwork Recovery
  6. Wipe everything several times
  7. Install the new ROM from the .zip file on the SD card
  8. Step through the device’s configuration process
  9. Reinstall apps and selectively restore data using Titanium Backup

I made a list of all the apps that I wanted to be sure to re-install. This turned out to be unnecessary because Google has greatly improved the user experience in the Play store. They’ve always permitted users to re-download purchased apps, but I found this time that even the free apps (some of my favorites are free ones) were readily accessible.

Another luxury for me this time around involved easily restoring my SMS messages. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to back these up separately before wiping my device, so after re-installing all my apps, I decided to see if there was an easy way to pull these out of my Nandroid backup. It turns out that Titanium Backup has a very simple procedure for restoring this data too. It’s just like restoring data from apps… the only trick is knowing which data to restore. It turns out that SMS messages are stored with the “Dialer History” (at least that’s the case with these HTC ROMs). After the restore and a simple reboot, all my SMS messages came right back. Thank you, Titanium Backup!

This whole process took a couple of hours of my time, some of which was spent on the minutiae of sorting out what data from which apps I wanted to backup. I also am a bit meticulous about configuration. Now that it’s all finished, I’m back to virtually the identical set of apps as before, but I have tons of free space and my device is running faster and more smoothly than ever!

I’m a very happy camper. Thanks very much to aamikam and all the others at TheMikMik and XDA Developers who work so hard at making such fantastic tools available to us!

HTC Evo Shift 4G Problems: Solved!

**Update (October 16, 2011): The process is a lot simpler now than it was a few weeks ago. This thread outlines the new simpler method for achieving root for your Evo Shift 4G. (I haven’t tried it myself, but I’d use it if my device weren’t already rooted.)

A few months ago, I upgraded my HTC Hero on Sprint to the HTC Evo Shift 4G. I liked the Shift because it had a good size and promised a little better battery life than the original HTC Evo. I didn’t need 2 cameras and a couple of the other bells & whistles of the bigger device, so the Shift looked to be a great choice.

And it was… for months. But unfortunately, the latest OTA (over-the-air) update that came to the device in late August / early September created a giant mess. For the first time ever, the Evo Shift started running slow. Every time I would hit the “Home” button to exit an app, the HTC Sense UI would restart. I wasn’t actually aware this was exactly what was occurring, but the home screen took forever to come up and the HTC logo would spin for a while. This was incredibly frustrating.

Rebooting the device didn’t help. Eliminating some apps made no difference. On a couple of occasions, using the device was so frustrating that I was about ready to throw it at the pavement.

Root, Root, Root Your Phone

I’ve written previously about rooting my HTC Hero. That turned out to be the best thing I could’ve done with that device. But I had hesitated to root the Shift. In fact, I hadn’t even looked into it because I was so happy with the device’s performance and really enjoyed the latest version of HTC’s proprietary Sense UI. Sense is a set of apps and tweaks that sits on top of the device’s Android O/S.

My experience with the HTC Hero was that by rooting it, I gave up access to the Sense UI. I liked it enough on the Evo Shift that I hadn’t gone down that road.

But with all my frustrations after the latest OTA update (which bumped me to Android 2.3.3 “Gingerbread”), I wondered what could be done. So… I started to check out the community of Android device hackers.

What I discovered was both delightful and frustrating. First of all, the guys & gals that work on this stuff had found a way to re-install the Sense UI after rooting the device. (This was not possible when I originally rooted my Hero.) Yippee for me! I can root the device and have full control, but still get the enjoyment out of Sense.

The downside — which was a bit frustrating — was that the road to get to a nicely-running, rooted “Gingerbread” (Android 2.3.3) Evo Shift with Sense UI was pretty convoluted.

Essentially, here’s what had to happen:

  1. Backup everything
  2. Gain a “temporary” root (goes away on reboot) on the Evo Shift
  3. Install some code to the device allowing a downgrade
  4. Backup everything
  5. Downgrade to “Froyo” (Android 2.2)
  6. Permanently root the device on Android 2.2.
  7. Backup the device
  8. Install a nice fresh new ROM

Definitely convoluted. Definitely more frustrating than the process on the HTC Hero (when I did it). But the results have been amazing. I’m running a custom ROM called MikShifted-G “Executive” from TheMikMik. It is gorgeous. It is lightning fast. All the “bugginess” from my device is ancient history.

And of course, with a rooted device, there’s no end to what you can do that was locked down previously by Sprint & HTC. All the Android goodness is there… and it gets better all the time!

I’m glad I rooted my Evo Shift 4G. You will be too!

For reference: xda-devleopers is the ultimate resource for rooting Android devices. For the HTC “Speedy” (Evo Shift 4G) running Android 2.3 (“Gingerbread”) this thread in particular will be helpful. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth it!