The Android Repair Guide to Fixing Boot Problems

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The Android Repair Guide to Fixing Boot Problems

Is your Android smartphone not starting? It might be due to a flaw in the hardware, software, or firmware. Kannon Yamada teaches how to identify and repair startup difficulties on unmodified Android devices this week.

A Reader Asks:

My Android smartphone doesn’twork. How can I fixit?

First, when I attempted to upgrade my smartphone to the most recent version of Android, something went wrong. It became entangled in a boot-loop. After doing some research online, I discovered that I needed to flash it with a fresh ROM (short for Read Only Memory).

However, the ROM flashing tool on my PC was unable to locate my phone, despite the fact that it was detected (as an Android phone) in Windows Device Manager. Is it possible to fix my phone, or should I look for a new one?

Kannon’s Reply:

My advice is to first use the phone’s recovery or bootloader before trying to install a custom ROM (what is a custom ROM?). Installing a modified ROM may result in the irreversible bricking of your device (avoid Android bricks).MakeUseOf has an Android Root guide as well as various Android root tutorials for those that are interested.

The troubleshooting guide that follows does not include installing modified ROMs. It will also not provide thorough instructions for those of you who have elected to install a custom ROM on your device. There are just too many things to consider. It instead focuses on the symptoms of various types of unbootable devices and how to resolve them.

A Note to the Reader

The reader who asked the question is dealing with two distinct problems: The first issue is that Windows fails to identify the phone when it is used with Android Debug Bridge (ADB) drivers. The second: Phones that have experienced a boot loop as a result of a botched Over-the-Air (OTA) update. Both of these difficulties are addressed separately, truly in “Unbootable Scenario #3” and the Minimal Fastboot and ADB application, respectively, under “What Are the Android Tools for Recovery?”

Here are some other concerns: You most likely do not have access to a custom recovery, such as TWRP or ClockWorkMod (what is a custom recovery? ), since it is just a customized version of a regular recovery environment. Everyone who installs a modified ROM should also install the recovery (why you need a custom recovery).However, if you just conduct a factory reset, the bootloader works well. Unfortunately, custom recovery is required to make a complete backup of your operating system.

Change the charger and cord: Everyone should use a power source and USB cable that they are familiar with and that provide the appropriate amperage. If a faulty or damaged charging device is utilized, the user’s smartphone may not charge and may look to be broken. A deep-discharged battery may need to be charged overnight.

Whatto doAfter Android Fails to Boot?

When an Android smartphone or tablet fails to load, you must ask yourself two questions: Is the problem hardware or software (for convenience, I put software and firmware together)?

Observation is required for a correct diagnosis. Is there anything unusual about the Android device? And what did the user do to the device before it failed to boot? Both questions have the potential to solve or explain boot failure.

Four common categories of unbootable deviceexist:

  • Scenario #1: No charging light, no warmth after charging, no detection when connecting into a desktop or laptop computer, no Android start screen;
  • Unbootable Scenario #2: Charging light illuminates, identified after connecting to a desktop or laptop, but no Android boot screen appears.
  • Unbootable Scenario #3: The boot screen is continuously shown, and the machine freezes or reboots.
  • Unbootable Scenario #4: The system does not boot and an error message appears on a blank screen.

Before we can fix the problem, we must first describe the numerous tools and tactics available to Android users:

There’s a figurative armory of tools for troubleshooting Android boot issues. The most popular are as follows:

  • Factory reset of the bootloader (or recovery);
  • Wipe the bootloader (or recovery) cache;
  • Software recovery toolkit;
  • Android Safe Mode;
  • Battery pull;
  • Soft and hard reboots;

How to Use an Android Bootloader?

Users may load separate bootable sections (or partitions) of their operating system using a bootloader. It gives customers the option of booting from a recovery partition or their operating system. The bootloader may restore the original factory-fresh operating system if the operating system cannot boot.

Manufacturers also give methods to delete the device’s cache inside the recovery or bootloader. Similarly, wiping a corrupted cache might resolve boot troubles. However, the tools and functionality accessible inside the pre-boot (or bootloader) environment vary by device vendor. They also vary in the manner in which consumers access this environment.

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Here’s an example of how my bootloader appears on a Moto X 2014:

As you can see, there are several alternatives. The Factory, or Factory Reset, option is the most noticeable (on an untouched device).

Factory Reset an Unbootable Android Device

The most typical method is to switch off the gadget. Next, hold down the power and volume buttons. Hold down the power and volume buttons until the smartphone vibrates quietly and enters the Android bootloader (or recovery).Some manufacturers utilize the volume up button instead of the volume down button.

Again, these settings change from one manufacturer to the next, but they all have the same fundamental elements.

Using your volume keys to scroll and the power button to pick an option, select Factory Reset. The gadget then begins restoring its original factory-new condition. It should reboot and begin the lengthy process of re-initialization. However, if you’ve installed a custom ROM, take extreme care while initiating the factory reset procedure using the Recovery or bootloader. In general, if you’ve customized your system, you should conduct a factory reset from the custom recovery (what is a custom recovery?).

Keep in mind that the volume controls may not always serve as directional controls. The volume up button on Motorola phones picks one choice, while the volume down button scrolls among the possibilities.

Bootloader Access Variations

To the best of my understanding, there are four types of key combinations that enable users to load their bootloader. Users must complete the following key combinations while the device is turned off:

  • Power + volume up
  • Power + volume down
  • Volume up + volume down + power
  • Samsung’s method (see below)

If you’re having trouble finding the bootloader, remember that not all manufacturers refer to their bootloader by name. Some people (especially Samsung) call it by a brand name (although Android includes its own version of Download Mode).You should be concerned about locating the factory reset option. Use a search engine if you’re unsure.

Here’s a fantastic movie that explains some of the bizarre variances in how people factory reset their devices. Some gadgets enable you to do a factory reset by simply touching buttons while the device is booting. Others necessitate entering the bootloader:

Samsung Download Mode

Unfortunately, several of the main device makers use various ways for accessing the bootloader (or other modes).Download mode is the name given by Samsung to their pre-boot recovery environment. Because Samsung devices may have a physical home button, this is occasionally used to reach the pre-boot environment. Here’s an easy guide to entering Samsung’s Download mode:

Because Samsung smartphones vary so much, you must do an Internet search to learn how to access the Download Mode on your specific smartphone model.

How to Use an Android Bootloader or Recovery to Wipe a Cache?

Another repair option may be found inside the Android pre-boot environment. Most manufacturers give a recovery option to clear the cache sector, but I’ve heard of the bootloader providing this functionality as well. There are two types of caches: Dalvik caches and system caches. Because ART compilation (which boosts Android performance) makes clearing the cache easier, Android 5.0 and above only contain the system cache.

To clear the cache, enter the Android bootloader and choose the recovery option.

Some manufacturers now need extra key strokes to erase the cache partition. For example, on my Moto X, hitting and holding the power button and volume down is required.

Then, from the choices, pick erase cachepartition. Reboot when it has finished clearing the cache.

Recovery toolkits differ from one manufacturer to the next. Nexus devices have access to a variety of versions, like WugFresh (no longer available).There’s also Samsung’s Kiestoolkit option. Minimal Fastboot and Koush’s Universal ADB Drivers are two further software utilities.

The Minimal ADB and Fastboot installable utility is the simplest way to access ADB. Users may use ADB commands and Fastboot without downloading the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), which includes a number of tools they don’t require. It’s simpler and less prone to mistake than downloading the whole SDK, which is very hefty. I should point you that Fastboot needs a particular bootloader to function, which some unmodified Android devices do not have.

The main benefit of Minimal ADB is that it includes an ADB driver package as well as the tools needed to connect your device to a Windows PC.

Simply download Minimal Fastboot and install it.

Here’s a video showing how to use ADB (you don’t need the Android SDK if you installed Minimal ADB and Fastboot):

Koush’s Universal ADB Drivers

If you are unable to connect a device to a Windows computer over the ADBprotocol, I propose downloading and installing Koush’s Universal ADB Drivers [No Longer Available]. Here’s a quick tutorial on connecting Android to Windows via ADB. Windows can now identify Android devices thanks to the drivers.

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When connecting to a desktop computer, Android smartphones employ two separate protocols and drivers. ADB enables users to access the file structure of the Android operating system, allowing them to restore the original firmware and do a variety of other things. This enables users to install the right drivers for unbootable devices, which opens the door to interacting with your phone’s operating system.

Koush’s Universal ADB Drivers provide a convenient alternative to downloading, installing, and configuring the whole Android SDK for your device. It supports the great majority, but not all, Android smartphones and tablets. You may want to try installing your official drivers first, and then install Koush’s drivers if that fails. Remember that this is simply the first step in dealing with boot issues. To establish an ADB connection, you must first enable ADB access on an existing operational system. This step will not work if your phone does not boot and you have not enabled ADB.

How to Use Android Safe Mode?

Android’s Safe Mode works similarly to Windows Safe Mode in that it loads the operating system without the need of any third-party applications. This prevents viruses and malfunctioning applications from interfering with the boot process. There are many ways to reach Safe Mode; the most significant for an unbootable device is from an unpowered condition. Simply hold down the power, volume up, and volume down buttons until the Android boot screen appears. After the boot sign appears, remove the power button but keep the volume buttons pressed until the operating system completely boots. In the bottom left corner of the screen, you should see grayed-out symbols and the words “Safe Mode.”

Users may then remove virus or broken software as they usually would.

From a powered-off state, hold the power button down until Safe Mode appears on Android Gingerbread (2.3) and lower.

How to Pull a Battery on Android?

A battery pull is the temporary removal of a smart-battery. device’s This approach is almost foolproof for resetting an Android smartphone, especially if it has entered the so-called slumber of death, in which the device refuses to turn up. Unfortunately, most new flagship phones no longer come with a detachable back cover. Some even solder the battery into the gadget to prevent it from being replaced by the user.

To do a battery pull, just remove the back cover and separate the battery. Some smartphones make removing the back cover simple (for example, changing the Nexus 4 battery). The Nexus 5 and 5X back covers are also simple to remove.

Simply pulling the battery connection from the battery after removing the back cover will cut power to the device and essentially conduct a hard reset. Do not remove the device’s battery. Then reconnect it and restart the computer.

How to Perform a Hard or Soft Reset on Android?

Hard and soft resets are the two fastest ways for Android users to reset their handsets.

Hard Reset

A hard reset returns the operating system to its factory-fresh condition. Entering the Android bootloader is required to do a hard reset (or recovery).

First, turn off the gadget. Then, while holding down the power and volume down keys, wait for the bootloader to appear. Then choose any option that seems to be a Factory Reset. My Motorola bootloader, for example, merely shows “Factory,” which is the same as Factory Reset. Choosing this option returns the phone to its original factory state.

If this option fails, the recovery partition may be corrupted. Installing a custom ROM may often wipe off the recovery partition, which holds a full copy of the original operating system. The loss of this division may significantly hamper mending attempts.

Here’s a video on how to perform a hard reset:

Soft Reset

On the great majority of Android devices, doing a softreset is dead simple: Simply hold down the power button for 10 seconds. The device should reset within 10 seconds.

This approach may not always work, but its dependability and simplicity make it a good first alternative for phones that have boot problems.

Here’s a video on how to perform a soft reset:

Having difficulty with the buttons required to reset your device? When the buttons on your Android phone stop working, try the following remedies.

Unbootable Android Scenarios

If your Android phone would not launch at all, there are various factors to explore.

Unbootable Scenario #1: No Lights, No Signs of Life

Your Android device displays the following symptoms:

  • When hooked into a power source, the charging indicator does not illuminate.
  • A hard reset does not restart the gadget.
  • When hooked into a PC, your gadget does not seem to be linked;
  • The phone and power adapter do not feel warm when hooked into a power source.
  • No Android boot screen;
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It might have a faulty power adapter or microUSB cord. Replace these and ensure that the power adaptor provides the required amperage (normally at least 1.5 mA).Then, connect the device to a computer and check in Windows Device Manager to see whether the computer identifies whether or not the Android device is connected.

You may notice the device linked under Android Devices. That indicates the computer has identified it. That indicates it’s not extinct.

First, charge it for many hours. Then, try a Soft Reset. If it doesn’t work, try a hard reset. If that fails, try pulling the battery. If a battery pull fails (or whether the battery is not removable), connect it to a computer to verify if it is recognized. If it fails, the gadget may have a faulty battery or a broken mainboard. You must send the equipment back to the manufacturer for repair.

If connecting it to a computer works and you have access to Fastboot or ADB, you may be able to install the original operating system, assuming the manufacturer enables users to get factory images of their operating system.

Unbootable Scenario #2: Some Signs of Life

Your Android device displays the following symptoms:

  • When connected to a power source, the charging light illuminates.
  • Detected when connecting to a desktop or laptop computer;
  • No Android boot screen;

In this case, the gadget displays signals of life but does not completely work. It might have a faulty power adapter or microUSB cord. Replace these and ensure that the power adaptor provides the required amperage (normally at least 1.5 amp).

To begin, charge it for many hours to ensure that it is completely charged. Then, do a soft reset. If that fails, try booting into the bootloader. If that works, do a factory reset. If that fails, the gadget may want the services of a professional technician.

Unbootable Scenario #3: Bootloop

A bootloop on a custom ROM may be significantly more severe than on a standard, unmodified device. Bootloops are often caused by a faulty operating system or a malicious software.

  • The boot screen is constantly shown, but the machine does not boot;
  • This might happen after a botched OTA update.

First, do a soft reset. If it doesn’t work, try booting the device in Safe Mode. If that fails (or you don’t have access to Safe Mode), try booting the device into its bootloader (or recovery) and deleting the cache (wiping the Dalvik cache as well if you’re on Android 4.4 or below) and rebooting. If it fails, you must resort to more extreme measures: Reboot into the bootloader and reset the device. If it fails, the equipment may need to be serviced by a professional technician.

If you already know how to use Fastboot, you may want to watch this video:

Unbootable Scenario #4: System boots, but displays error message(s)

These error messages might show for both hardware and software issues. If the essential operating system files are damaged, a variety of error messages may appear. A faulty eMMC drive (its hard disk) may also damage data.

  • If you made any changes to your operating system, such as gaining root access or installing a custom ROM.
  • If an OTA software update was unsuccessful;
  • If the device shows a dead Android;

First, try a soft reset. If that fails, enter the bootloader and do a factory reset (AKA hard reset).If that fails, try wiping the cache. If it fails, you’ll be left with few choices. You may try reflashing a system image using a toolkit or manually with the ADB. Otherwise, a professional technician may be required to correctly restore the device’s operating system.

Android Boot Problems?

Working with the bootloader environment is the easiest way to deal with an unbootable Android device. Unlike most Windows installs, Android provides consumers with a clear and simple means of restoring their device to factory-fresh state. If the recovery fails (or just does not function), users may still fix their device using other methods, such as ADB.

If you brick your smartphone due to an unanticipated circumstance, attempt these recovery techniques to unbrick your Android handset.

Do you want to know more about Android? Check out these useful Android websites.

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