I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 (SGH-I747 for AT&T) that is not rooted. Recently it started shutting down in the middle of use and not start up again. At first, plugging it into the charger would get it to boot up and work. But after a few days it progressed to the point that it does not boot up at all anymore. I can get it into Recovery Mode and Download Mode but nothing else. Before I proceed further in trying to fix the phone, is there a way to backup the data -- mainly pictures and sound recordings? (No, it did not have an sdcard installed. And yes, I know it should have.)

I have never worked with this type of thing before (rooting, CWM, ADB, etc), but I have a remedial understanding of programming and I'm willing to get my hands dirty, as long as the instructions are clear. So please answer as if I have no idea what you're talking about (which most likely I don't).

Based on my preliminary research on this site and elsewhere, ideally I would make both a Nandroid backup and an ADB backup. I read that the ADB backup requires USB Debugging to be enabled. But if the phone won't turn on, that can't be done, right? Or is there a way to enable USB Debugging from recovery/download mode? I am assuming it can't be done and that the ADB option is out.

That leaves making a Nandroid backup. If I understand the procedure correctly, I need to download USB drivers, Odin, and ClockworkMod onto my PC, then install CWM onto the phone. From there, use CWM to make a backup onto an external sdcard. Once the phone is fixed, root it, install Titanium backup, and use Titanium to extract the data from the backup. Does that sound right? Would this work?

  • I have a solution but it may void you warranty since we gonna need to flash a custom recovery ,I will ask you first are you open to such thing (installing custom recovery and custom stuff too I will be clear on instructions ) Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 2:12
  • My phone is 2 1/2 years old so it's well out of warranty. Yes I'm open to flashing some custom stuff. Thanks.
    – D9r
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 8:27

1 Answer 1


Personally, I am a Nexus user. But having repaired a friend's international variant S3 before, I do know some things about Samsung. And since you don't have custom recovery, you cannot access /data (the partition where data is stored). So the way I know of will use a custom recovery to backup/restore data. This voids your warranty.

  • I am assuming you already know the rooting process. So root and install CWM recovery (this will be our link for data transfer).

  • Power on to recovery.

  • Backup the /data from recovery (you can backup in internal SD card, won't really matter).

Now there are two approaches from here:

Approach 1: You are ready and willing to use custom ROM (you can switch to stock anytime of course).

  • Download any custom ROM from PC and transfer to some external SD card. Put the SD card in phone. Make sure the ROM is same Android version as the stock ROM you had in your phone.

  • Go to recovery (power off phone and power it on by pressing and holding power+volume up+home buttons. May take a few tries before you successfully get into recovery) and wipe data, cache ,dalvic (will not wipe your user data. Just don't factory reset, but manually wipe data partition).

  • Install ROM from external SD card. Restore Backup of data that you made earlier. Wipe cache and dalvic cache once again and reboot. It may take a while to boot up, but you should have your apps and data back.

Approach 2: You don't want to use custom ROMs.

If this is the case, you will have to use ADB. The reason is recovery backup does not include backup of your personal files in user-memory partition. So for that, you will have to use ADB.

  • Power on to recovery mode and connect phone to PC.

  • Open up CMD/Terminal (we are going to use ADB to pull your personal files that weren't backup before).

  • Enter the command: adb pull /sdcard/* D:/Backup. This will start copying your personal files to your PC in a folder named Backup inside D:/ drive. This backup includes the /data backup you made earlier in recovery.

  • Go to sammobile and download the stock firmware for your phone. Again, make sure the ROM is same Android version as the stock ROM you had in your phone (else app backup may not work).

  • Flash the ROM using ODIN.

  • Now you will have to flash CWM again.

  • After flashing CWM again, power on to recovery. And again, open up CMD/Terminal and run the command: adb push D:/backup /sdcard. This will copy over your personal files back to phone.

  • Now to restore apps, simply use Restore feature of recovery and select the /data backup you made earlier. Wipe cache, dalvic cache and reboot phone.

  • First reboot may take some time but you will have your files and apps back.

Note: As silly as it might be, but personally, I have never used Titanium Backup (or any sort of backup apps for that matter. I always perform manual backups). So I do not know if what role could TB have played here. But if you stick to this guide, you will have your data back.

  • In case of Galaxy S4 non--rooted phone, it seems that ADB does not work in default recovery mode. As I understand, rooting requires unlocking, which also performs data wipe. Is there any alternative to create the backup in this case?
    – Lukasz M
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 20:35
  • 1
    Does your phone start? If yes, then you can perform same procedure (skip until installing recovery and go directly with adb backup). If it doesnt start, unfortunately, I do not know a way to proceed then without rooting. Rather, I am not sure (did you try with bootloader mode? I doubt it will work though so...) Maybe someone else can help. Its been a long while since I played with android, might need to have some memory refreshes. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 22:59

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