Downgrading and Rooting Your HTC Desire HD

This post is pretty old now, and I no longer have a Desire HD. The instructions below might work for you, but I can’t say for sure, and I can’t help you if you get stuck. Your best bet is to head over to XDA Developers to find more up to date instructions, tools, and ROMS.


A few months ago I made the switch from the iPhone to Android – a HTC Desire HD (DHD), to be precise. I’m still formulating a post about my experience of switching (and Android in general), but today I want to document the process I had to go through to “root” my phone. Rooting your device seems to be a right of passage for Android owners and being the geek I am I didn’t want to miss out.

HTC recently released an OTA update for the Desire HD (v1.72) which locked down the phone to prevent “rooting” (jailbreaking by another name, as far as I can tell). I find it amusing that the “open” Android platform suffers from some of the same vendor lock-downs as Apple and the iPhone, but that’s another post for another day. What I didn’t find amusing was that this update hit my phone the morning I decided I wanted to root my handset.

Thankfully there is a large community of enthusiasts who dedicate their spare time to working around issues such as this. Within a week or so there was a workaround. What follows are the collated instructions I used to downgrade my DHD to a rootable firmware, apply the root, install a recovery image, and install a custom ROM. These instructions are pulled from a number of different forum threads and blog posts across the internet.

Messing with the firmware of your phone can easily end in a “bricked” handset which is only of use as a paper-weight. Proceed at your own risk. I am not responsible for any damages or loss which results from following the instructions below. If you do continue, read ALL of the instructions through SEVERAL times BEFORE you begin. Following these instructions will wipe all data off of your phone (at least twice), so take a backup of anything important first. This guide only covers non-branded handsets.

Downgrading

To downgrade you will need to have the HTC Sync software installed on your PC (for a hardware driver I believe), a copy of the “stock” v1.32 firmware, and a few extra tools which we’ll run from the command line. I have packaged everything needed into one complete .zip file available here:

DHD_Downgrade_package.zip (354MB)

Unpack the bundle to your desktop or some other working directory. Within the bundle there are the following files:

  • Downgrade.zip – the tools we will use to perform the downgrade. Unpack this.
  • PD98IMG.zip – image file for firmware 1.32. Do NOT unpack this
  • setup_3.0.5511.exe – setup file for HTC Sync. Install this if you haven’t already.

Once ready, the process is relatively straight-forward. Again, this process will wipe the internal storage of the handset. This is your last chance to backup your data.

  1. Turn on USB debugging on your handset. Settings > Applications > Development
  2. Connect your phone via USB to your computer, in disk drive mode. Copy PD98IMG.zip to the SD card. Change the connection type back to charge only (very important)
  3. Open a command prompt and browse to where you unpacked Downgrade.zip
  4. Run the following commands:

Once these have been entered you are nearly done.

The next bit requires a little finger dexterity. Press and hold the volume down button, and reboot your phone (hold down power button, then restart). Keep holding the holding volume down until the bootloader appears on screen. From there, follow the easy-peasy onscreen instructions to load the downgrade firmware.

Once your phone has been rebooted you will be left with a stock, factory fresh, Desire HD. If you plan to install a custom ROM then skip as much of the initial setup wizard as possible, as installing the new ROM will wipe the phone again. The downgrade is complete and you are ready to root your phone.

Rooting

Rooting the DHD is so simple a monkey could do it. Begin by allowing the installation of apps from unknown sources (Settings > Applications > Unknown sources). Next, download and install ES File Explorer and Terminal Emulator from the Android Market Place.

Download the latest version of VISIONary from MoDaCo. Connect your handset in disk mode and copy the .apk file onto the SD card. Disconnect your phone and use ES File Explorer to install the app (just tap on it in the browser and accept the prompts).

Once VISIONary is installed and running, tick “Set system r/w after root“, and tap “Temproot now“. This initial root might take a couple of minutes. Once finished, tap “Attempt Permroot now“, and let your DHD reboot.

Once rebooted you can test if everything went OK by running Terminal Emulator. At the prompt type in “su“. If you get a “#” prompt you are good to go on to the next stage.

Installing the Recovery Image

The recovery image is what allows us to install our custom ROM. Time was when installing this required a few extra downloads and command-line jiggery pokery, but the process is a lot simpler nowadays.

Download and install ROM Manager from the Market Place. Run ROM Manager. Tap “Flash ClockworkMod Recovery“. Done. Told you it was simple 🙂 You can verify the Recovery Image installed by tapping “Reboot into Recovery“, which will reboot your phone and put you into a black screen with a small menu at the top. You use the volume up/down keys to navigate the menu, and the power button to choose an option.

With the recovery image in place we are nearly complete. If you want you could leave your phone as-is right now and it would be completely “open”. But what would be the fun in that?

Installing a Custom ROM

I’m not going to tell you which ROM to install on the Desire HD, as it’s a pretty personal choice. There are quite a few to choose from so my suggestion is to just do some reading and find one which will fit how you want your device. I went for Pays-ROM Sparta HD as it is a very lightweight and stable ROM, without the majority of HTC’s Sense UI. Other choices include CyanogenMod, Android Revolution, and LeeDrOiD. This page has a more extensive list of available Desire HD ROMs.

Once you’ve picked your ROM, simply download the .zip file, copy it to your SD card, and use ROM Manager to Reboot into Recovery. From there, on the main manu you’ll want to wipe data and the cache partition, then go into advanced and wipe both the Dalvik cache and battery status. Go back to the main menu and choose “install zip from sdcard” followed by “choose zip from sdcard“. Select the zip file of your chosen ROM then sit back as it is installed onto your device. A reboot later and you should be looking at your newly rooted and customised HTC Desire HD.

17 comments

  1. Hi Chris, I had the same problem with update and root. Still I cannot decide to downgrade and root my device or not (maybe I’m afraid) . I search many sites about this and found that your guide is far more easy to follow. Did it work for you? (of course it is my responsibility but…just a question).Thanx in advance and keep up the good work.

  2. Works like a charm…. but… after flashing any custom rom DHD keeps restarting on boot :/ Any ideas?Great walkthrou tho 😉 cheers

  3. Try booting into recovery (volume down on startup), then wipe dalvik cache, data, and/or battery stats. If that doesn't work, try reflashing another ROM?

  4. Thanks for this but I was wondering if anyone else tried it but I got a ‘CID’ failed message during the reboot…

  5. This as far as my efforts have gotten me. Still in the process of finding a cure.Any ideas?? C:Downgrade>C:Downgrade>adb push psneuter /data/local/tempadb server is out of date. killing…* daemon started successfully *error: device not found

  6. I was trying to donwgrade, but it says “CID incorrect, Update Fail!”

    I’ve been trying a lot of ways to do so but I’m not getting any good one. Do you know what I’m supposed to do here? I want do to the downgrade because my terminal suddenly stopped recognizing the sim card.

    1. I’m afraid I can’t really help – I no longer have a DHD, and it’s possible newer updates have broken these instructions. The best thing to do would be to check out the XDA-Developers forum.

  7. I have followed the instructions and have downloaded the zip folder …..I have put the PD98IMG.zip in my sd card without unpacking it and activated USB debugging on my device and put it in charging only..but any time i open a command prompt on my pc and try to enter the above commands it closes up back and i really need this downgrade so i can root my devise and install a custom Rom …am sorry if am disturbing you in any way,and i know you probably don’t have this device again …but i know am really close to downgrading my device pls help me .thanks Chris.

    1. I’d really like to be able to help you, but I don’t have the phone anymore, and haven’t kept up to date with the latest issues around rooting it. Probably your best hope is to check out the XDA-Developers forums for the Desire HD (should be linked above) and see if they have either new tools or an updated process.

  8. C:UsersuserDesktopDowngrade>adb shell /data/local/tmp/psneuter
    Failed to set prot mask (Inappropriate ioctl for device)

    C:UsersuserDesktopDowngrade>adb shell
    $ cd /data/local/tmp
    cd /data/local/tmp
    $ ./misc_version -s 1.31.405.3
    ./misc_version -s 1.31.405.3
    –set_version set. VERSION will be changed to: 1.31.405.3
    Patching and backing up partition 17…
    Error opening input file.
    $

    (this is whee it went wrong and idk how to fix it)

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