Almost everyone has been through situations like cracked screens, water damaged phones, and black screens that won’t respond. When these inevitable events occur it’s usually not the phone itself that causes the most panic, it’s the thought of losing what is stored on the device. Fortunately, with the right software it’s possible to extract your precious data in those moments of need.

Data extraction from a smartphone is simple enough if the data is stored on an SD card, you can simply eject the memory card and slot it into a computer. However, it is normal for a combination of both internal and external storage to be used to store data like contacts, messages, call logs, app data, pictures, and audio files. With internal storage it’s not possible to simply eject the memory card, as it’s soldered to the main board of the phone. The safest method to extract data from the internal memory storage is to install a reliable third-party application to your computer and connect the device for extraction.

Dr Fone with USB debugging enabled

There are many tools available to extract data from an Android device. I used Wondershare’s Dr. Fone toolkit for Android because of its simple user interface and huge list of compatible devices. There are other good tools available too. MOBILedit’s Forensic Express is an application originally created solely for law enforcement, now available to a wider audience. FonePaw is a data recovery tool that can extract deleted photos, videos, audio files, messages, contacts, call logs, and documents from an Android device.

The Dr. Fone toolkit can’t extract data from an encrypted device, which may be frustrating to some, but it also shows that device encryption holds up against data extraction by an unauthorized person.

The Dr. Fone toolkit also has transferring, rooting, repairing, erasing, and back up capabilities, meaning it’s useful in a variety of scenarios. The functionality I want to focus on is the extraction of data. Here are some steps to recover data from your android device using the Dr. Fone toolkit for Android:

  1. Connect your android to your PC using a USB cable.
  2. Make sure USB debugging is enabled on your device. (If you can’t enable USB debugging for some reason, there is a separate tutorial further down the page)
  3. Launch the Dr. Fone toolkit for Android on your PC.
  4. Select ‘Data Recovery.’
  5. Select file types to scan. All data types will be displayed and checked. De-select any data types you do not wish to recover from the device.
  6. Choose between ‘Scan for deleted files’ and ‘Scan for all files.’ Scanning for all files will attempt to extract all possible data files available, meaning the process will take a bit longer than just scanning for deleted files.
  7. Click ‘Next’ to begin the data recovery process. After analyzing the device, the software will scan for items.
  8. Preview discovered data from the device. The user interface is neatly laid out, allowing you to select and preview individual files.
  9. Extract the data to your computer. Check the items you want to extract and click “Recover” to save them all on your computer.

Retrieving data without USB debugging enabled

USB debugging mode facilitates a direct connection between an Android device and a computer running Android SDK. This mode allows access to advanced operations and deep level actions developers need to test new applications and read internal logs.

USB debugging is also necessary when you need to access and manage personal data on your Android device. For this reason most recovery tools will ask you to enable this mode prior to data extraction. USB debugging is disabled by default for all new devices. This is to avoid any unintentional modifications by the user.

This precaution becomes a problem if your phone is damaged to the point where you are unable to access the settings menu and enable debugging.  It won’t be possible to extract all the data from the device without replacing the screen or fixing the phone first. In this scenario you will either need a tool that can extract data with USB debugging disabled or replace the screen to enable this change to be made.

Currently this function is only compatible with Samsung devices in the Galaxy S, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Tab series. This is because Wondershare has not yet found a way to bypass the systems of other models successfully without debugging mode. New devices will be added to the list in the future.

Here’s how to extract data from your phone without USB debugging enabled using the Dr. Fone toolkit for Android:

  1. Connect your Android device to your PC using a USB cable.
  2. Launch the Dr. Fone toolkit for Android on your PC.
  3. Select ‘Data Extraction (Damaged Device)’
  4. Select which filetypes to scan. All data types will be displayed and checked. De-select any data types you do not wish to recover from the device.
  5. Select the fault type which matches your situation. There are two options for ‘Touch does not work’ or ‘Cannot access the phone and Black/broken screen’
  6. Choose the correct device name and model for your phone— not doing so can lead to device malfunctions, so make sure this is correct.
  7. If the information is correct, type “confirm” in the text field and click on the “Confirm” button to continue.
  8. Enter “Download Mode.” Follow on-screen instructions to successfully enter download mode on your phone by using the volume, home, and power buttons.
  9. Click ‘Next’ to begin the data recovery process. After analyzing the device the software will scan for items.
  10. Next, preview the discovered data from the device. The user interface is neatly laid out allowing you to select and preview individual files.
  11. Extract the data to your computer. Check the items you want and click “Recover” to save them.

Wrap-up

Extraction varies from tool to tool. It is imperative that the instructions are followed accurately, and warnings aren’t ignored, to carry out a successful extraction without damaging the phone further.

With a rising number of people dependent on their smartphones for storing of all kinds of data, extraction tools are a great method of ensuring data is not lost forever. As the landscapes of both data management and security improve and transform, extraction tools will also need to become more sophisticated in order to function in a way that helps owners recover data but also deters unauthorized access.

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