Can I backup the data of a tablet that doesn't boot?

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A

Android Central Question

Hello,

when starting the tablet of my friend (Acer Iconia A1-830), the system hangs up when displaying the Intel logo. I can boot into Android system recovery and could try to do a factory reset. However, there are files installed on the tablet (not on the SD card but on the internal storage, unfortunately) that I want to backup before wiping the data.

I connected the tablet to my PC using a USB cable and installed the platform-tools of the Android SDK. However, when the tablet is in recovery mode, it does not get listed when executing "adb devices". I've read that adb requires USB debugging to be enabled on the tablet but I think I cannot do that since the tablet does not boot up at all.

Is there any way to back up the data of the tablet?

Recovery screen content:

> Android system recovery <3e>
> Acer_AVOKO_A1-830_1.008.00_WW_GEN1
>
> Volume up/down to move highlight:
> power button to select.
>
> reboot system now
> apply update from external storage
> wipe data/factory reset
> wipe cache partition
> demo mode

Thanks in advance!
 

L0n3N1nja

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Jan 11, 2014
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Beyond clearing system cache or trying to boot into safe mode not really anything you can do, if it won't power up and let you pass the lock screen the data won't be accessible from a computer. Android is designed this way for security, we basically keep our lives on our phones and anyone who stole one could access it all.

Even tearing the device apart and removing the flash storage does little good as the majority of devices are encrypted and the encryption is strong enough a super computer would need years to get past the encryption.
 

smvim

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May 16, 2014
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Don't get your hopes up that you'll ever be able to extract saved data from this tablet.
-- Without USB Debugging enabled beforehand, than yeah you're not going to be able to access data via adb. The thing is USB connectivity can involve two things, one is power transfers and the other is data transfers. The former is done automatically on a system-level while the latter is more conditional and more or less on a user-level, well kinda/sorta. When you plug in your tablet into a PC back when it was working OK, the power transfer would just kick in on its own. But in the GUI, there would be an interaction between the Android operating system and the PC operating system as they essentially authenticate themselves to each other. Then your tablet's basic file system would be accessible by a file manager on the PC, and the basic file system on the PC visible to a file manager app on your tablet. But this does require both the tablet and PC to be running normally, so with your tablet being in question this brings up the issue why adb needs USB Debugging enabled. For practical reasons USB connectivity has to be curated and controlled. Countless numbers of exploits travel across network connections, and any number of those will take advantage of USB connectivity too. It's a security and a privacy risk to have unfettered USB connecting enabled so always keep that in mind when you do enable USB Debugging on your Android device. Most people want the convenience but don't want to take into consideration the consequences. USB Debugging allows data exchanging via CLI, which by default is not enabled for a reason. So it allows one to use adb, but don't forget that when it's convenient for you it also allows someone else the privilege.
-- The fact that you can boot your tablet into its Recovery Mode is at least a good sign the tablet isn't completely dead but still be wary. Whenever you're stuck in a boot loop, that's often due to the installed Android operating system is corrupted in some way -- if software you might be able to flash an appropriate stock ROM to restore the tablet to working condition again (odds are saved data gets wiped in the process), if hardware and it's something like the internal storage chip failed (not likely but can occur) than it's time to look forward and just get a new tablet. Note that when you're in Recovery Mode, that's just special purpose, pre-boot state. Typically when you start your tablet up it always bypasses its Recovery and just starts loading up the Android OS into memory. You intentionally use button combinations to specifically startup into Recovery Mode, than from there it will just continue the boot process of the OS, but in your instance that's the problem. Simply because the tablet can get into Recovery Mode isn't really a factor if you're goal is to recover saved data in the internal storage.
-- Apologies that this is going to appear to be dismissive and preachy but it's vital to implement an automatic and comprehensive backup solution as one of the early steps to set up any Android device. Backups are important.
 

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