I have an adroid phone, it's a descent phone and it's not that old yet several times here lately I have ran into problems installing or updatinga a few apps because my version of android is not supported. I think I need to upgrade but I've never done this before. It's a verizon wireless HTC android phone. Is there a way to upgrade from within the android app itslef and keep all of my data or would I need to install a new android OS over this one the way I normally do my Linux OS? If it's the second option how do I make sure my verizon account and phone number are still linked to this phone? Thanks.

Keeping your data is a discussion on its own. For most, using Android's own sync may be enough. But then you dive deeper into they want more than what sync provides. There is no getting away from you revealing what you meant as well as you researching what sync does, then talking about filling in the gaps.

Your second question about installing a new Android OS shows you may have not done research yet. Unlike our PCs which are somewhat all the same, phones use a variety of CPUs and rarely look the same from the OS standpoint. Also, to install Android OS on a phone is often too much for even someone that has installed Linux. Again, you need to do research on not only how Android is installed (really I wouldn't even do this research first) but to find out if any Android newer version ever was made for your phone.

DEEP BREATHS. STAY CALM. OK where do I go to look for a new ROM? XDA Developers and LineageOS.

Started in December 2016, LineageOS now supports 178 smartphone models and claims to have over 1.7 million installs.

Is your phone on the list? Read https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/

I would have checked further but found only HTC in the top post.

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