Android Data Recovery from a dead Android phone / SD card?

Kwyjor

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I have an old Moto G (XT1540) that used to run Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), but it simply won't boot normally anymore. I already have another much better phone I use regularly, so I'm not too broken up about it – except I at least want to get any data I might have had off the phone first.

The boot menu is still working and I'm told that installing TWRP would be a good first step. If there is a a straightforward guide for doing so, that would be appreciated, though I anticipate that it will require much grueling research.

My other concern is the SD card, which was formatted as "Internal Storage" (as I was installing apps onto it). It's definitely not directly readable with Windows or even with DiskInternals Linux Reader, and from what I've read, it's apparently encrypted – but I've also seen things like https://nelenkov.blogspot.com/2015/06/decrypting-android-m-adopted-storage.html that suggest the encryption is relatively easy to bypass.

I'm sure I could find a range of very expensive programs or recovery services, but is there no free tool that is useful for a case like this?

(Or could someone at least please suggest a better place to ask, if not here..?)
 
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diggeloid

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If you are able to boot into TWRP recovery, you should be able to mount the internal storage via USB. It's been a long time since I've used TWRP, but you'll probably find an option for mounting if you look. If you mount it, it should show up on your Windows computer like a regular drive.

Alternatively, if you can get ADB working, you can transfer files using that (you may need to install some drivers for your phone). It's not the fastest option, but it should work. If you don't know how to use ADB directly, there are some apps out there that offer a UI for ADB file transfers. A quick web search brings up this thing, but there are others.

Not sure about the SD card, but that seems like a lost cause if you can't get the phone to boot. I don't know how Android handles the decryption of SD card content like that but MAYBE you can mount it from within TWRP (and it'll automatically decrypt). If you do get it to mount, then you should be able to access the files using the same method as above, either via regular USB file transfer, or via ADB file transfer.

(Or could someone at least please suggest a better place to ask, if not here..?)

The place to go for all things Android is the XDA developers forums.
 
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Kwyjor

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Holy cow! Thanks so much for replying. I have really been stuck for ideas.

I've been told that the SD card is likely formatted with f2fs and that there's an f2fs-tools package for Linux, but it's still not clear to me if my card is necessarily encrypted or if f2fs-tools would be able to handle that encryption. I guess if using TWRP would let me access the SD card, then I might as well just try TWRP – but it would be nice if I could take care of the SD card first.

The place to go for all things Android is the XDA developers forums.
...Are they newbie-friendly?
 

diggeloid

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If it really is formatted with f2fs, then according to Archwiki, that means the encryption is implemented per-directory. So if you do get it to mount, then it's possible that only the folder where apps are installed is encrypted, but everything else should be accessible (unless Android decided to encrypt everything). It's worth a shot.

If you have access to a Linux machine, you should be able to mount it. Look up tutorials on how to manually mount devices on Linux, and install f2fs support if necessary (aka "f2fs-tools"). But if you're new to that process, I recommend you just use TWRP since it basically does the exact same thing, but with less steps.

Also, note the big scary red warning on the Archwiki page I linked above, which mentions there's a bug that makes the device unreadable on different kernel versions. It's possible you'll encounter that issue yourself if you try to read it manually on a Linux machine, so you should try TWRP first just to save time.


As for XDA being friendly, idk lol. They're the birthplace for most custom ROMs and mods (like TWRP), but the actual developers are definitely outnumbered by the newbies.
 
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