Ultimate Guide to view/recover/extract data from a locked Android phone
Disclaimer – The method(s) described in this article are intended to help users to recover data from locked phones of their own. Please respect privacy of others and do not use the following methods to sneak into someone else data. We are not responsible if someone uses it for illegal purpose(s) or intentions.
Many times it happens that we forget our phone’s security code/password/pattern or PIN and get locked out. This is the most helpless situation in the world, more so when the data stored in the device is very important. If you are in such a situation right now then the first thing you can do is – do not panic. To err is human and “to forget” is also human. Fortunately there are many solutions to this annoying problem and we will describe some of these here –
1. Check if you have a memory card inserted in the phone – if yes then everything in the card is yours (usually most media files like photos, videos and apps are stored in memory card) – you can recover memory card data by connecting it with a computer or inserting it in a different phone. But you are out of luck if the phone does not support a microSD card (non-expandable memory) or if the memory card is encrypted. In that case (and to recover data from phone memory) move on to the second method.
2. If your Google account is active (already logged in) in the locked phone and phone is connected to internet then it is quite simple to unlock the phone. When a wrong code/pattern is entered multiple times, phone will ask to login with your Google account – just enter your Gmail ID and password – it will be verified online and the phone will unlock asking you to reset your old code/pattern.
3. Besides you can also use Android Device Manager to change/reset your phone lock code/pattern. For this phone must be connected to internet and your Google account must be logged in the phone. Go to this link (Device Manager) in computer (or another phone) – login with the same Google ID which is active in the locked phone – Google will search and locate the phone(s) – after a while the desired phone should appear at the screen with three options (Ring, Lock and Erase) – click “Lock” option – a box will pop up asking for new lock screen – here you can enter new password that will replace your current lock screen – optionally you can also enter security question and phone number in the fields provided – click “Lock” button when finished – wait for a while as Device Manager sends and configure this information to the phone. Hopefully you will get your phone back.
However above methods are useless if the phone is not connected to internet or you have forgotten your Google ID and/or password. In this case you can proceed further with following alternative methods.
4. Above methods will not work if
You have a locked phone and don’t remember your Google ID and/or password or
You are not logged in the phone with your Google ID or
Phone is not connected to internet or
You want to extract data from someone else locked phone (naughty boy!)
Whatever be the scenario here is another simple method to extract data from a locked phone – the only catch is USB Debugging (an option under Developer Options menu) MUST be ON in the phone. If USB Debugging is off, this method WILL NOT WORK, as simple as that! So its your luck!
You need a computer running Windows (7 or later)
Phone’s USB data cable
A free software, ROOTJOY – download from here
Rootjoy is a wonderful phone management software (kind of a PC Suite) developed by UMi, a Chinese mobile maker. But unlike PC Suites of other phone makers (which support only devices made by their companies), Rootjoy supports almost every Android phone. Anyway let’s start the process.
Install Rootjoy in your PC and launch it
Connect the locked phone with computer using USB data cable
Wait for a while as ROOTJOY will try to connect with and recognize the phone – for this Rootjoy will install UMi Connection Service in the phone – besides phone drivers will also be installed if you are connecting the phone with computer for the first time – all this will take some time, so be patient and ignore any initial errors which may pop up during this process
Sometimes Rootjoy asks to activate USB Debugging even if we know it is ON in the phone – in this case ignore it and try again and again – if Rootjoy repeatedly gives such errors then leave the phone connected with computer and Rootjoy running, for about 5-10 minutes – sometimes Rootjoy takes this much time to access phone memory. If still unsuccessful then either USB Debugging is OFF in the phone or it has a pretty solid security. As I have said earlier ROOTJOY will work only if USB Debugging option is ON in the phone. When USB Debugging option is ON, a “USB Debugging connected” message pop up at the phone screen, the moment it is connected with computer.
If USB Debugging is ON, ROOTJOY will access the phone memory no matter what type of lock/pattern/code is used to secure the device.
When connection with the phone is established, Rootjoy will show the phone screen and other details (as seen in the screenshot) – now Click on the “Phone Manager” tab in Rootjoy – phone data will show up in the right side Window – as seen in the screenshot below, there are buttons like Applications, Contacts, Messages, Images etc at the right side bar – clicking on these buttons will show up the respective data. To view all files in phone memory (similar to a file manager) click on the SD Card button – all folders will show up – from here you can browse the folders/files – to view the contents of any folder just double click on it.
To extract any file(s) or folder(s) just select (click) it and then click “Export” button (you can select multiple or all folders/files also) – Rootjoy will ask for the location where you want to save the data in computer – select the location and click “OK” – Rootjoy will copy the selected data to computer.
You can also take backup of phone’s Contacts, Messages, Call logs and Apps in computer and restore it later if required. For this go to “Tools” tab and click on “Data Backup” option – follow the steps – select the data to backup and done. As you can see in the screenshot there are other tools too like Flash the phone, Root Recovery, Recovery Mode, Reboot the phone etc. Rootjoy can also clear the screen password/pattern if the phone is rooted. All the options are pretty simple and self-explanatory. It is indeed a wonderful app, thanks UMi!
Note – This method works only if the phone is in working condition and USB Debugging option is turned ON.
Also note that Rootjoy may not show all content (like Contacts or Messages etc) depending upon the phone model you have. We have successfully tested this method with many Samsung (Galaxy S5 running Android Lollipop 5.1), LG (LG G4 running Android 6.0 MM), Huawei (Honor 6) and UMi (Iron Pro) phones and it worked for all of them.
As you can see how useful (and life-saver sometimes) it is to enable USB Debugging in Android phones. It is kind of an emergency door to enter the phone if something goes wrong and phone is locked down. So we recommend that you enable this option right now in all of your Android devices to avoid trouble in future.
Also note that security measures in mobile devices are getting better and stronger by each passing day, some or all of the above methods may not work in the near future. So the best and always working solution to this “locked out” problem is data backup. Yes you read that right, just enable automatic online backup in your phone and rest assured. There is no dearth of free cloud storage (Google Drive, cloud storage provided by mobile makers etc) – all you need is a WiFi connection or unlimited mobile internet data plan to utilize this service. As they say “Prevention is better than cure” – so act now.