Today’s mobile devices increasingly preform on standardized operating systems. However, when it comes to recovering data, there is no such thing as ‘standard’. There are countless issues to address when recovering data from a standard Android system device. These issues are dealt with using a vast number of tools and techniques, ever evolving through technological advancements in the mobile device data recovery field. Critical files found on mobile devices are stored in rather special format and cannot be easily examined and transferred to another device. For example, contacts are stored in SQLITE databases, requiring a query to export the information needed. Images, music and videos are the focus of any android data recovery and they are far easier to locate and recover. My Data Recovery Lab believes in beginning any project using the most basic and simple of the options. Our approach to service applies recovery methods from easiest to the most difficult. This is, simply, the best practice to avoid complete data loss and protect our clients from unnecessary higher price point service.
A first step in the recovery of data from an Android device is to deal with the devices external storage elements, generally in the form of SIM Cards and storage peripherals such as a MicroSD card. If present, these items are removed then evaluated independent from the device.
Battery and Power Issues
An obvious next step involves a careful inspection of the units battery condition. In cases where their are problems effecting the battery an external source of power must be used. At this point, if the device will not power up it is highly likely that the device has internal circuitry issues or a problem with it’s display. Next we must ascertain if data connectivity can be established via USB. If this is successful, data recovery services are not necessary. The client should locate a device repair shop. My Data Recovery Lab does not perform services such as mobile device repair.
Imaging-The Easy Way
The easiest method for recovery of images from an Android device is realized by copying the device data using PTP or MTP protocals. While failed Android devices generally will not allow the creation of binary images, data that is copied using these protocols create a launching point of the file-system area in use; this allows us to view the data currently on the device. This method, however, is ineffective in cases where files have been deleted.
Imaging-More Difficult Way
In cases when image files have been deleted it is imperative that recovery only be attempted by an experienced data recovery professional. To successfully recover deleted files, specialized industry-specific tools must be used in order to access unallocated portions of the media device or to allow binary ‘disk’ access to the media storage device. By utilizing Android Development Bridge, we are are able to access the active file-system, the same as for any other type of removable media. This shell tool allows us to communicate directly to the device and make adjustments to the settings. As this requires that the device be rooted, it is important to note that rooting a device on your own will in most cases invalidate your manufacturers warranty.
Imaging-The Most Difficult Way
Attempting to recover data directly from the flash memory or NAND chip are the most challenging type cases. These techniques are only employed in situations when the device is physically unusable. Attempts may be made to use the a JTAG interface to communicate through pads on the board, this is often a very difficult process. Worse still is the Chip-Off method. This method of ‘chipping-off’ the NAND chip, in order to read it’s raw data, is effectively the last option available for a successful recovery. The removal of the chip requires freeing it from an epoxy encasing and using heat for soldering work. After this invasive process, any subsequent recovery success is unlikely.
Using specialized equipment it is possible to recover flash memory from an Android devices even when they are locked, damaged or otherwise inaccessible by using JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) based tools. This method involves connecting to Test Access Ports (TAPs) on a device and instructing the processor to transfer the raw data stored on memory chips. If supported, JTAG Acquisition is an extremely effective technique to extract a full physical image from devices that cannot be acquired with normal tools.
Another industry specification we utilize, mentioned above is NAND reading using chip-off method. In this method we have to have our chip removed and cleaned and placed in the appropriate NAND reader based on specs provided by the Open NAND Flash Interface group (ONFI). This group provides the chip specific information necessary the chip to be read, thus allowing us to create the raw binary image.
The popularity of Android mobile devices in our lives shows no signs of slowing growth. The more important they become as our devices of choice, the higher the value of the data we store on them. However, packing so much capability in a small portable device also creates a greater challenge in terms of data protection. Through the use of the latest technology and industry specific special applications, tailored for android data recovery, we continue to find ever improving ways to recover your valuable data now and into the future. My Data Recovery Lab is proud of our contributions in the field of research and development and are energized by the possibilities of what is yet to come.