Originally Posted by phys_of_ex
Hi everyone. I'm new to XDA, so I'd like to take the time in advance to tell all of you developers and contributors how much I appreciate what you do. XDA has some of the brightest minds in the world. The information contained here has already saved me (and my Nexus 7) quite a few times.
With that said, I'd like to know more about the ins and outs of flashing ROMs (and kernels) and how to do it properly without losing everything (music, pics, etc). Also, how flash updates to ROMs: do I need to wipe and reload everything with each update, and and can I flash the LATEST update or do I have to go back and flash each and every update in order of their release? If anyone could direct me to the proper thread(s) I'd greatly appreciate it. There's so much info here that its easy to get lost. I truly appreciate any help and/or direction.
Hi, I'm glad you're happy with XDA.
I'm not a developer but I can tell you about flashing ROMs.
When flashing the latest version of a ROM/kernel you don't have to flash all previous versions
When flashing a new ROM (E.g CyanogenMod) over your stock/current ROM (That isn't CM) you must perform a data wipe/factory reset and wipe the cache. To save data use Titanium backup to backup all your apps, copy all files available to PC and make a Nandroid backup incase the flash fails.
When flashing an update (E.g Cyanogen M6 over M5) most of the time you don't have to backup all apps etc but most people do incase something goes wrong (which it can), however when flashing a nightly/experimental over a M-build you must wipe data and cache.
When flashing a kernel the same rule applies as flashing a new ROM (Backup, Wipe, Restart)
Hope I could help and good luck exploring ROMs and Kernels