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Accessing files on old Android with broken screen

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by jeff99, Jul 7, 2020.

  1. jeff99

    jeff99 Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I have an old Android phone whose screen is broken. The rest of the phone works (the lighting comes on, etc). I have already recovered the extra SIM card off of it, but want to recover a few other files and contacts on the phone. How can I do that? I was hoping to see the files in file manager if I merely USB connected it to my Windows machine. The device does show up, but I can't see any way to get to the file structure.

    I think it's Android 7, or maybe 9 (not sure). I understand this is a very difficult question without a lot of info.

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  2. Davdi

    Davdi Android Expert

    It would help if you could tell us the make and model of the phone.
    Dannydet likes this.
  3. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Odds are you're going to have to really put in some time and effort to retrieve the files and things you want if you can't access them from the phone itself any longer. Files that are in the user data partition shouldn't be a problem but for something like the contacts, you'll need to use the Contacts app on the phone to export the contact to a .vcf file that can be imported into another Contacts app or elsewhere. Otherwise, there's going to be a file, probably named contacts.db, and it will be located in a system-level folder so direct access to it isn't as easy.
    Also, being a database file (looking it up, it should be a SQLite database file) its internal formatting will be specific so it won't be something easily readable if you're viewing it in an office suite or text editor. It's a lot less of a hassle to work with an exported vcf file.
    This being an 'old' phone it's not likely to be still set up so things like email/contacts/calendar are still set up to auto-sync with a current online email service, if it ever was to begin with. Yes?
    MrJavi and Dannydet like this.
  4. jeff99

    jeff99 Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Hi. I didn't get an email that there was a response. So thanks for your reply.

    It seems to have two levels of contacts, the ones from my Gmail account, which came down to the phone, and were duplicated. And the ones that I entered on the phone, which did not replicate up to the gmail account. This is probably because I have many hundreds of contacts in my gmail account (I'm not popular, just a packrat who used to tutor) and so I think I turned off syncing one of the times when my phone ran out of space.

    Once I get the files, I will figure out how to read them. How do I get the files. That's the part I'm working on now.


  5. jeff99

    jeff99 Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Sorry, I didn't see your reply till now. Thanks for replying.

    It's an LG-K550

    MrJavi likes this.
  6. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Since you disabled syncing your phone's Contacts with your online Google account, that creates a situation where apparently the Contact entries on that phone only exist in one place, only on that phone. The odds of recovering them from an old phone with a dead screen are not very good.
    Even if you are able to access and retrieve that contacts.db file, which will be involved task itself, it's going to involve a conversion process to get to the actual contents of the file, an example of the process here:
  7. jeff99

    jeff99 Newbie
    Thread Starter

    First I want to know how to get the files. Any ideas for that?

  8. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    If you had USB Debugging enabled in the Developer Options of that phone, you can try using ADB (Android Debug Bridge) to locate and retrieve that file
    Note that by default USB Debugging is disabled, so without it previously set just ignore this reply.
    MrJavi and jeff99 like this.

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