Android smart phone data recovery can be initiated at two of the application layers in the system. First one consists of user level applications related to phone operation, emailing and messaging, browser related files, phonebook, messaging and office documents. Second layer consists of software utilities that support the first layer like content providing apps, resource managing tools, OS related system files etc. Both these layers are considered to be critical from your point as most of the logical and physical crashes are known to affect these two regions extensively. You may be able to use the open source software tools for fixing some of the logical failures by using DIY procedures. But most of the critical failures related to logical (corrupt MBR, distorted file system, lost links to data clusters etc.) and physical damages (burnt PCB components, corrupt firmware & ROM, damaged read-write head and electrical short circuits) can be set right only by qualified hardware experts.
Critical nature of hardware failures
The listing of hardware failures in this session is related to critical levels of functional components. Your exploration of component breakdown starts with user level application layer. The Micro-SD card used in android smart phones can suffer from mechanical damages related to read-write assembly, electrical short circuits leading to board & chip level damages and firmware corruption.
Damages to read-write assembly can result from external impacts like dropping your phone, exposure to heat and dust etc. The technician will be able to assess the level of damages after complete hardware scanning. Once the intensity of damage has been assessed he will be able to suggest the best possible hardware solution.
Component damages: – The read-write head of the smart phone device is made of many micro level components like the sensor, data transfer cables, read-write components and connectors. Scanning with hardware tools can point to the immediate cause of head failure. In most cases the components assembly needs to be replaced as repairing them individually may not be possible. Once this is done retesting is done on the failed drive with read only operation. If the device is still not responding, testing will be carried onto the next level.
Sensor damage: – It is a small micro chip component which is located within the actuator assembly. It is responsible for detecting the empty tracks and sectors within the SD-Card and write data onto them. When this sensor fails the system may start writing data randomly into the card, leading to overwrites and accidental partition deletion. In most of the cases sensor repairing may not be possible as it is highly delicate and sensitive to impacts. So it has to be replaced with a new sensor.
Data transfer cables: – The read-write head consists of many data transfer cables that connect it to other I/O devices like the camera, keypad, touch screen, microphone and speakers. Damages to these micro level cables can severely affect the normal accessibility of data from the storage device. In such cases deep scan utility in the hardware tools will be able to display points of rupture in these cables. If you are curious to know more about these cable paths, the technician will be able to show them to you under a magnifying lens.
If you have opted for branded smart phones from Samsung, Sony, Apple, Hitachi and other leading companies, you will be able to see the individual component assembly lines along with the data cable paths. The technician will be able to replace single or bunches of cables based on diagnosis results.
If the smart phone device happens to be a cheap one, you can only see a single PCB into which all the connecting cables are fused. In such a case the technician will be forced to replace the entire PCB.
After setting right all the possible hardware components the technician will start data recovery from the storage device. In most of the cases he may choose to deploy the software application which is built into the testing and repairing hardware tool. This application is developed by the hardware tool manufacturers and made compatible with the specific types of tools used in the system.
Extent of Data Salvaging
Extent of data recovery depends on the intensity of damages caused by hardware failure. If the core data storage areas remain relatively safer with minor dents, the process of salvaging can be performed with built-in software tools. The technician will use a new storage device for transferring data. If the core storage areas have developed bad sectors or suffered critical damages, then he may be forced to carry out a disk imaging process. This is performed with the help of an imaging tool which is connected to the failed source drive and the donor drive. The process takes many hours for completion.
Once the imaging is complete, the donor drive is scanned for logical failures like partition failure, corrupt file system, missing links between MBR and file allocation tables etc. Then the built in software utility is run again to recover all possible data from the donor drive. This completes the process of data recovery from dead smart phones.
One of the advanced utilities available online today is the smart phone data recovery stick. It can be used to salvage data from bad sector affected storage devices, as long the device itself is bootable. However it needs to be connected to an external storage device in order to transfer the restored data from the failed device.
Tips for broken smart phone data recovery
- Avoid restoration of data into the failed drive. In some cases you may find functional partitions within the same drive and get tempted to use them. Expert technicians will always advice you against such move as the probability of their failure is also high.
- Protect your smart phone with an external impact proof cover. Avoid stuffing your phone with too many concurrent USB port connections.
- Avoid using your smart phone for charging other mobile phones and USB devices.