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Rooting Moto E5 Possible To Recover Photos With Appropriate Recovery Apps On A Reformatted Android?

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by montecarlo1987, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. montecarlo1987

    Thread Starter

    Hello. Nice to meet you all once again!

    I have a serious dilemma! I need your help and advice!

    Hello. This past week (Wed., July 22nd, 2020), in the midst of searching on Chrome on my Moto E5 (Non-rooted) [XT1920DL] Tracfone smartphone with Android 8.1.0 I noticed the webpages and the apps themselves were running slow. I restarted my smartphone with the side power button and went it rebooted, the Moto logo screen "Powered By Android" was in a constant restart where it would flash intermittently and randomly on and off never fully loading into the login screen to eventually the home screen. This went on for over a half-hour or better.

    I was beginning to get concerned. I then read information online from my Windows 10 PC, a procedure to get to AP Fastboot Flash Mode (Recovery Mode) with the power and volume down buttons. I scrolled to Recovery Mode option with the volume buttons and then pressed the power button to get into Recovery Mode. It said, "No command" on the screen. I then pressed the power button and while pressing it down, I quickly tapped the volume up button. I was then in Android Recovery mode. I tried all options on this screen: "Reboot system now", "Reboot to bootloader", "and "Wipe cache partition" as possible solutions available without harming any of my personal files saved on the smartphone. In all cases, the smartphone did the same thing as before where it would reboot and randomly flash "Powered By Android" on the screen never fully booting and loading the Android home page after waiting 30 minutes or better after each option.

    Right along I thought I saved my photos with other data to the 64 GB PNY micro-SD card installed with the SIM card attached inside the smartphone and would be safe to do a factory reset as my photos would not be harmed, so I felt the only other option "Wipe data/factory defaults" in Recovery Mode was available to get into my smartphone. I did feel at this point in the troubleshooting I should remove that micro-SD card just in the SD card's photos get deleted or damaged in any way during a factory reset. Now, it was a total factory reset. Feeling I still had my photos taken by this smartphone saved on my micro-SD card, I removed it and placed it an adapter and then into a card reader to see the photos on my Windows 10 PC. I only saw 2 drives (not partitioned) (16GB and 59GB) that did NOT have drive letter assigned partitions via Windows 10's Computer Management and Windows Explorer were showing both drives empty or fully available. I panicked! I ran Recuva, Disk Digger, Wondershare Recoverit, MiniTool Power Data Recovery, FonePaw for Android, EaseUS Mobisaver for Android, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to try to recover photos with deep scans where some recovery programs would allow deep scans on the micro-SD card and other recovery programs would only allow quick general scans. These were free versions that had downloads for trial purposes and only provide for free anything that could find in terms of data, however, if I wanted it recovered it would cost me to buy the program. Why would I want to buy the program if it failed to find anything like it did in terms of my photos. It found one (1) recovered item which looks to appear a screenshot and some random odd unuseful files. No luck! I also used Windows 10 Computer Management assigned a drive letter to the entire micro-SD card so some of the recovery software that required a drive letter assigned to the micro-SD card to run could indeed find the partition and drive, but that did not work and resulted in no photos found.

    I also ran Stellar Photo Recovery and PhoneRescue for Android (PC software install versions on my Windows 10) and discovered for these programs that a non-rooted smartphone will not work with their software as my Android Moto E5 smartphone is not rooted! I then checked my photos.google.com on my account to see what photos were uploaded and saved and saw a large number of my photos taken in recent months were never saved the Google Photos on the cloud. The reason for that is unknown and obviously I cannot tell now. It must be I had the backup to Google Photos off via Wi-Fi.I have learned I will upload my photos to Google Photos on a regular basis this point forward.

    I realized a few things now. I just purchased a new Moto G6 smartphone I am still presently setting up. In the process of setup, I have read online that when I use an SD card as expanded internal memory option, the SD card data is not accessible to other operating systems like Windows. I then begin to recall myself just may be doing that -- I did indeed expand the internal memory option on the Moto E5. This was a long time ago. That is why I did not see any files visible on my Windows 10 PC as I read these files are not visible or accessible with other operating systems. I figured there were over 5,000 photos that were not saved with most if not all ones I cannot replace. I now assume the photos were then stored in some directory on the expanded internal memory of the Android smartphone and not the (removable portable) micro-SD card I originally thought I setup many months ago. Also, when re-inserting the SD card back into the Moto E5, the Moto E5 reformats the SD card automatically to the removable portable storage since the reformatting of Android using Recovery Mode. This time I did not setup the SD card as expanded internal memory and left it as a removable portable storage option.

    I used the Moto E5 a few times with a couple of photos with its new formatted Android drive. Then, today, I read online from Technews.com that, “However, no data recovery app can restore deleted files unless and until you root your device properly. The reason why rooting is necessary for Android file recovery is because the erased files are actually stored on the reserved cache memory that cannot be accessed without rooting your device.” THIS GOT ME EXCITED WITH SOME HOPE! Yes, I would have to sacrifice my Moto E5 for rooting it to get access with some deep scans from some recovery software program to get those photos. AM I RIGHT? …OR AM I WRONG? I NEED YOUR FACTS AND ADVICE IF THIS WILL WORK! I know I will void my warranty with Motorola and/or Tracfone since I have learned I will have to get the code in order to unlock my bootloader and install another ROM, but if the photos are still in all or part intact somewhere on the Moto E5, I am willing to take the gamble. The Moto E5 is over a year old now. I assume the warranty is now void anyways.


    Please reply and please let me know. I have provided you a lot of details so you should plenty of information on my circumstances to provide me an informed solution, decision or advice.



    #1 montecarlo1987, Jul 29, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  2. Best Answer:
    Post #15 by svim, Aug 14, 2020 (3 points)

    1. Download the Forums for Android™ app!


  3. ocnbrze

    ocnbrze DON'T PANIC!!!!!!!!!

    first off i do not trust those services that say they can recover deleted photos, but needs root in order to do this. remember rooting removes all securities to the phone. also rooting the moto e5 looks like it will delete data. i have never heard of a partition that is called "reserved cache memory". i doubt that it exists tbh with you.

    with your new phone, i would recommend that you use google's photo app. with it i never ever have to worry about my photos. it is will upload my pics to the cloud where i can even access it from my computer without having too hook up the phone.

    if you want my opinion....those services are scams and will waste your money. but if you want to root your phone, more power to you. it is a good skill to learn. from what i saw, rooting your phone is pretty straightforward. i'll link you to a guide if you are interested.
    bcrichster, MrJavi and Dannydet like this.
  4. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    It's not likely you'll be able to restore your lost photo library, whether your E5 is or was rooted. Five years or so ago, before encrypting the internal storage was a default state for Android devices, using a file recovery utility was often a reliable way to save deleted files (more or less). But now you're going to be putting a lot of time and effort into doing something with very little if any actual successful results do to the same thing. Encrypted storage is now a default for all smartphones. Data stored within an encrypted storage media is protected and without the encryption key (only accessible locally, on the device the key is directly tied to), all data just appears to be random, scrambled data bits.
    Instead of relying on some file recovery utility that makes magical promises, you should instead think forward. Set up a reliable, automatic backup solution so if this ever happens again you have something to fall back on. The Google Photos app, a photo manager app includes a backup and sync function that automatically backs up your photos into your online Google account.
    Some people prefer to avoid Google oversight as much as possible so they opt for some other online storage service. If you're also immersed into Microsoft's platform, its OneDrive is a popular option since it's already pretty well integrated into their other online services:
    Another option is an Open Source project that has no affiliations to any corporate interests, Syncthing uses encrypted transfers and while you can link it to an online storage service it will also work as well using just local storage (a PC or NAS). Setting it up and configuring it properly is a bit more involved than something like Google Photos. but it's a secure service and as far as privacy that's based on how you choose to implement it.
    There are of course plenty of other viable options, but the bottom line is having a backup is better than using a restore utility. Part of the setup process of whatever service you opt to use is confirming it's actually set up and working. So be sure to later check: a) it's automatically backing up what it's supposed to, b) that the backups exist in the location you choose them to be, and c) recovering data is possible. Once you get past all the hassle of setting it up, then you shouldn't have to interact with it unless needed.
    ocnbrze likes this.
  5. montecarlo1987

    Thread Starter

    Hello! Nice to meet you svim!

    I appreciate your honesty and sincerity, even though my idea has a grim outlook of succeeding in your estimation. Let me ask you this... ...now that I have learned that Android encrypts data on my phone (Please set me straight first -- when you mention "encrypted storage media" does this apply to "ALL" folders and files on the Android operating system or only "storage" containers (folders like for photos, videos, music, contacts, etc.) within the Android operating system? Please explain.); does this encryption key ONLY VALID FOR THAT "SPECIFIC" "1" INSTALLATION of the Android OS or APPLIES TO "ALL" ANDROID OS "ON THAT SPECIFIC DEVICE"? Meaning that if I reformat and re-install a clean copy of Android OS on the SAME device (my smartphone in this case) that the encryption key will be the SAME OR DIFFERENT from the previous copy of Android OS on the SAME device? If a different encryption key, I am out of luck to decrypt on my smartphone even though it is the same device. If the same encryption key, I have a possible chance to decrypt on my smartphone.

    I know when you do encrypt folders and files locally in Windows, the encryption key is ONLY APPLICABLE TO THAT 1 PARTICULAR INSTALLATION OF WINDOWS even if it is the SAME PC computer!

    Yes, I will have to make sure that my Moto G6 has the backup ON at all times and at least upload to Google Photos.

    Hello! Nice to meet you ocnbrze! Thanks for your reply!

    Yes, I would love to have COMPLETE DETAILED instructions on rooting my Moto E5 [regular] model, not Plus or Play model.

    I assume again I would have to have an unlock key for the Android bootloader, correct? Advise me with either Motorola or Tracfone to get the code?

    Please provide me a detailed instruction covering all basics with any possible graphical images as this is my first rodeo (first time)! I just do not need to brick the smartphone even though I consider it sacrificial now.

    I do not know if I will be able to get these photos or not, now that svim told me that they are encrypted. Yes, it would be nice to at least learn how to do a rooting of a smartphone for my first time!

    Please reply! Thanks!
    MrJavi likes this.
  6. Animeking9901

    Animeking9901 Lurker

    Tracfone typically does not allow bl unlocks so Moto wont give you that code,was the phone a tracfone model?
  7. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    The encryption is something that involves the entire file system, so essentially that applies to the internal storage itself. It's a not folder or file only matter, it's all the data that reside within the internal storage. While the encryption key is stored within the operating system, keep in mind it's not user accessible and it gets referenced at a deeper level than the installed Android operating system. In a very loose interpretation, you interact with the Android OS (typically through its launcher or apps), and the Android OS interacts with the file system.
    There are apps that do allow you to encrypt specific folders, some are third-party projects, Samsung includes its own Secure Folder, but they're user-focused services, and they simply function on top of the file system' encryption.
    Some models allow the user to encrypt the microSD card (typically by default it isn't) while keeping it formatted as 'portable' (... for phone models that include support to format microSD cards as 'internal' this changes its file system and it encrypts the card media). At that point if you remove the card and try to mount it on a computer (or a different phone) because the encryption key ties the card specifically to its source phone, none of the data on the card is accessible. You can reformat the card to use it as a portable storage media to transfer files again, but that does involve wiping any of the previous contents. If you want to save the contents of an encrypted card, you need to use the same phone you used to enable its encryption to copy the data off of it before reformatting.
    ocnbrze likes this.
  8. montecarlo1987

    Thread Starter

    Thank you svim for replying! (Q:1) So, from your quote above, I let me ask you -- I "COULD INDEED" recovery some (or less likely all the photos as some could be damaged) on the SD card IF I DID "NOT" HAVE THE SD CARD "ENCRYPTED" with some recovery software then?

    (Q:2) So, an SD Card that is corrupted, formatted, or deleted WITHOUT EVER BEING ENCRYPTED can have a GOOD chance of file recovery with the proper file recovery software? ....when you add the "encrypted" factor, it makes it next to impossible -- am I correct?

    The same is true for INTERNAL memory as well, but from what I understand, Android will ALWAYS ENCRYPT their INTERNAL memory ANYWAYS -- so there is no sense even trying any recovery... ...unless as you said, "If you want to save the contents of an encrypted card, you need to use the same phone you used to enable its encryption to copy the data off of it before reformatting." ...the key is the last part "before reformatting". (Q:3) Is this correct?

    (Q:4) So from what you are saying in response to my question in my previous post -- The encryption key is the *SAME* when reformatted to factory reset Android OS (SAME VERSION) on the SAME DEVICE (a smartphone)... ...OR NOT... ...where Android assigns another DIFFERENT encryption key to its newly reformatted factory reset Android OS?

    (Q:5) So keeping the SD card as a "portable storage media" (and not as an extended internal memory), Android will NOT encrypt the SD Card/its folders or files?

    I do realize now that I did indeed extend the internal memory over to the SD card and in all likelihood encrypted the SD card too.

    (Q:6) SO OLD MOTO E5's SETUP WAS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN UNLESS I USED GOOGLE'S ONLINE BACKUP "GOOGLE PHOTOS" REGULARLY (Geese, I feel like Captain Smith on the 1912 "unsinkable" Titanic that things were going to be just fine and nothing could damage it. I was a fool! I see things differently now and will modify my methods!)

    Please reply. Thank you again for your insight!

    Hello! Nice to meet you! Yes, it is a Tracfone model. From what you tell me, it sounds like it will be impossible to attempt to try anything on the Moto E5? ...even if I have "just cause" and I am trying to attempt to get my photos, Tracfone (or Motorola) will still not help me with a code for their bootloader?

    Thank you ocnbrze! I may try this, but from what I am being told by others on this thread, it does not look too promising at all!


    Oh, a couple of important side questions to this topic I would like some answers to anyone here, please:

    1. (a) When you setup your Android smartphone to save photos to Google Photos online, can you have it "AUTOMATICALLY" upload WITHOUT ANY INTERVENTION ON THE USER'S PART once the photo is taken by your smartphone (as long as I am connected successfully to a user's Wi-Fi and/or data plan -- however that is setup to upload)? (b) If so, is it indeed an AUTOMATIC process OR is there some preliminary setup or settings/configurations a user needs to perform first? (c) ...and if there is a preliminary setup first, is this needed to be done each and every time I take photos or one-time setup only?

    2. (a) Can you have your Android smartphone save your photos to BOTH one's your SD card (used as portable external storage) AND Google Photos at the same time or not? In essence, this is a double backup. (b) If so, how does a user setup this to work in that manner where photos are being saved at both locations? (Again, like question 1 above, this would be full "an automatic" process, or the most "automatic" (fewest steps on the part of the user) as possible saving at BOTH locations setup hopefully one-time only.)

    Please reply. Thank you very much!
    #8 montecarlo1987, Jul 31, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
    MrJavi likes this.
  9. ocnbrze

    ocnbrze DON'T PANIC!!!!!!!!!

    Well as far rooting to get your photos, that's correct..... not promising at all. But rooting the device, just for the knowledge is definitely doable.
    MrJavi likes this.
  10. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    1. A microSD card will be using FAT32 or exFAT as its default file system. It's an unsupported, proprietary legacy file system developed by no longer maintained by Microsoft. Back in its day, Windows 98 and early WinXP, FAT was a marginally reliable file system that was usable but not dependable -- losing data after a system crash was almost expected if anything. Fast forward decades later, FAT file systems are no longer used as a default by any operating system (thankfully) but the USB-IF, the board that maintains and enforces USB standards, still curses society by keeping FAT as the default file system for USB storage media. Even though it's not reliable and has crappy universal (cross-platform) file/folder permissions support and even crappier universal metadata support, its one plus point is FAT continues to have industry-wide support. So when any of us buy something like a USB stick, it's usable as a storage media device no matter what operating system our gadgetry is running. So with all that verbage, yes, you're more 'likely' to be able to recover data from a microSD card but don't expect 100% or even 50% of a success rate. There are a lot of other variables involved.
    2. - 3. Yes, encryption makes using any remote access of the storage media much more difficult. But your added conditional statements don't necessarily apply. Most of us don't continuously transfer data from internal storage to a microSD card storage.
    4. The encryption of the internal storage media is at a firmware level, and it applies to the file system. The operating system, whether it's stock or custom, gets installed and runs within that existing file system.
    5. This refers a lot to 1. A microSD card will be not be encrypted and will be using a FAT variant file system by default. Keep in mind the default file system in your Android phone is ext4. When a card is formatted as 'internal' its file system is changed to ext4 and it's encrypted. The operating system now sees the card as just part of the existing file system. The card also should not be removed because of this. And, no the installed Android OS won't just automatically reformat your microSD cards, It's something you the user have to initiate.
    6. No, your phone wasn't set up as some kind of disaster waiting to happen. There are however a lot of misconceptions that lead people into thinking such things. A comprehensive, automatic backup solution for Android doesn't yet exist. Apple for instance has its own fully comprehensive backup and restore service (using iTunes and now iCloud) but that's a platform where one company has essentially complete control over its software and hardware development. Android, however is a much more diverse platform that involves a wider array of hardware configurations. This diversity has its drawbacks but also a lot of benefits. But whatever the case, if you do think your particular model is a lemon because of some drawback didn't meet with your expectations, it's important to keep in mind that the smartphone market is far from being fully developed and perfected.
    MrJavi and ocnbrze like this.
  11. montecarlo1987

    Thread Starter

    Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions! I see you answered them with an understanding of filesystems and that makes sense to me. Thank you! Let me clear up something I finally understood with your last quote. It is not the Android OS and the hardware of the Moto per se that is so-called faulty in its design -- I am not placing blame on the smartphone -- well not completely. I am placing blame on myself. The methodology I created with the setup of using the resources is the problem. I made my smartphone less safe and secure in terms of backups under the conditions I had. I extended the internal memory to include the SD card. Not smart now as I could have had my photos saved there on the SD card and likely untouched right now, but chose not too and now realizing what I was doing as I was expanding my memory for other uses like more apps but sacrificing safety and security -- remember the Moto E5 only has 16 GB internal memory! That is a joke! It does not take long to fill that up as the OS alone takes more than half already. So yes, I was playing with fire here as I was working with limited capacities I never thought from the gecko I would end up doing. My new Moto G6 has 32 GB internal now, so there is no need to use my SD card as internal memory now. I will not this time and save photos on the SD card as external storage. I will be using the Google Photos on a regular basis as I thought Google Photos on a regular basis was not necessary at the time. I do not know where I originally got the idea that my photos were safely stored on the SD card as external memory, when I thought back and realized now I did not setup my smartphone that way. I regret that now. Being safer I have ended up learning. Yes, lots of hindsight and teachable moments with precious moments saved lost.

    Again, thanks!
    MrJavi and ocnbrze like this.
  12. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Something to keep in mind is Motorola's Moto 'E' phones are its 'Economy' category models. So a Moto E5 phone is just a basic model line, good for common day-to-day usage, and it's in that mid to low budget class. If you want a flagship level phone with lots of RAM, an abundance of storage, and lots of added bling you need to expand your budget and upgrade to a newer model. Keep your expectations in accordance to the phone you have and you'll be a lot more satisfied in its performance and functionality.
    ocnbrze, bcrichster and MrJavi like this.
  13. bcrichster

    bcrichster ROMinator

    I've been using a new Moto G Stylus (Tiny stylus!) recently and it's pretty nice as well. As for Rooting fixing that sdcard issue: won't happen, truly sorry for your loss. Most of the Moto G & E devices have ROMs and/or recoveries which can help with your decisions on future devices, BTW ;)
    MrJavi and ocnbrze like this.
  14. montecarlo1987

    Thread Starter

    To anyone:

    I have to ask you... ...based on all the comprehensive information I have provided above... ...at what SPECIFIC point was "the point of no return" for me? A. The last point where I could recover everything "naturally" without any outside intervention from 3rd party recovery apps? B. The last point where I could recover all or part of data likely with the aid of 3rd party recovery apps? Please explain if necessary. Please answer the questions.

    Please reply.

    Thank you!
  15. svim

    svim Extreme Android User

    Your phone was set up so you were always using it in a high-risk way.
    With no backup solution set up, you don't have a lot of viable recovery options. And just assuming the Camera app is going to save your photos and videos to the microSD card by default simply because there's one there isn't going to work out either. You need to specifically change that option in the Camera app's settings menu.

    Once the Android 8.1 operating system installed on your phone was somehow corrupted badly enough that it couldn't boot up normally anymore, that pretty much was the turning point. With your photo library only existing in one place, your phone's internal storage, you need to adjust your expectations accordingly.
    Looking forward, take the time to set up a working, automatic, reliable backup solution for your phone's contents. It's worth the effort. And keep in mind that saving to the microSD card isn't a solid solution either. A card is a convenience measure only, it is definitely not an option to use for long-term archiving.
    bcrichster likes this.
  16. ocnbrze

    ocnbrze DON'T PANIC!!!!!!!!!

    ok glad you found this thread and my post. going forward for anything root related, do your research over at https://forum.xda-developers.com/. this is a developers forum where the devs hangout and publish their goodies.

    good luck on rooting.....if you have any questions on the process, i would create a new thread rather then de-rail this one;)
    MrJavi likes this.
  17. Davdi

    Davdi Android Expert

    If you use Linux on your PCs, you can format SD cars as EXT4 and they'll work just fine in your phone. I don't know about Windows though as I gave that up over 10 years ago. Many moons ago I had an HTC Wildfire S running Cyanogen Mod. As that phone had a pathetic 512MB of RAM I formatted a 16GB card as follows: 2GB for use as RAM, 2GB as LInux swap and the rest as EXT4 which the phone saw as internal storage thanks to Int2Ext4+ from the play store - requires root (Probably now deprecated)
    MrJavi and ocnbrze like this.
  18. Alexenferman

    Alexenferman Member

    The userdata partition is encrypted :( so there is no easy way of recovering even if you retrieved the userdata image from it.
    Davdi and MrJavi like this.
  19. MrJavi

    MrJavi Android Expert

    I agree

Motorola Moto E5 Plus Forum

The Motorola Moto E5 Plus release date was May 2018. Features and Specs include a 6.0" inch screen, 12MP camera, 2/3GB RAM, Snapdragon 425 processor, and 5000mAh battery.

May 2018
Release Date
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