The screen of my phone is physically broken, so it doesn't display anything, but the touch aspect does seem to be working, as I can unlock my phone, and get haptic feedback.

Before I go to get it replaced, I'd like to back up some personal data from the built-in memory to the SD card. I'm fairly certain that if I can get adb to recognize the device, then I can use Android Screencast to see where I am touching the screen and do what I need to do. Problem is, when I plug it in, it's not recognized, while my emulator is.

I suspect that I might not have USB debugging enabled, which I think is necessary for adb to work. If this is the case, can someone give me screenshots of their Droid X (running 2.3.X) going from the home screen, through all the menus, to activating debug mode? Hopefully I can do it by dead reckoning and adb from there.

Edit: I haven't changed anything about the ROM or launcher; it's all stock.

  • Sounds like the USB connector has been broken too. Can you connect the phone to your computer? If so, then maybe you could set it to be in USB drive mode.
    – Kevin M
    Commented Aug 28, 2011 at 18:53
  • No, the USB connector is fine, I think. When I plug it in, my computer makes the 'device connected' noise, but nothing else happens. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 3:11
  • Did you ever accomplish this?
    – Jason C
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 1:51
  • Unfortunately no, I lost the data when I got a replacement phone. I should enable adb on my current phone now to avoid this... Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 23:03
  • This may be a little late but the droid X had a mini HDMI port! Why not just use that?
    – user107659
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 20:18

4 Answers 4


Had exactly the same problem recently (on a friend's Nexus S running stock Android 4.0 with a completely broken screen & digitizer and adb switched off):

Get a recovery system running with adb enabled. Then use adb console to access the device's data and create a backup. On Nexus S you cannot use the sdcard to get the data off the device, so you need to use adb for that.


  1. Phone does have fastboot mode with boot command enabled
  2. Phone still works (except for the screen)
  3. SDK installed (with working adb + fastboot executables)
  4. CWM recovery image downloaded to /tmp/cwm.zip (has enabled adb when started)
  5. Linux with installed uudecode (part of package 'sharutils' on Ubuntu)

How to do it:
a) Start device in fastboot mode and boot the CWM recovery this way

me@workstation:~$ fastboot boot /tmp/cwm.zip  

b) wait some time for CWM to boot, then log into the device

me@workstation:~$ adb shell  
shell@android:/ $ mkdir -p /tmp/backup/data /tmp/backup/sdcard  

Replace DATA_DEV and SDCARD_DEV by the real devicenames
depending on your phone, it's most likely one of these:

  • DATA_DEV: /dev/block/mtdblock*
  • SDCARD_DEV: /dev/block/mmcblk*
  • use df command to find candidates by size.

    shell@android:/ $ mount -oro <DATA_DEV> /tmp/backup/data  
    shell@android:/ $ mount -oro <SDCARD_DEV> /tmp/backup/sdcard  
    shell@android:/ $ exit  
    me@workstation:~$ adb shell tar czf - /tmp/backup \| uuencode foo | uudecode -o - > /tmp/backup.tar.gz

Caveats and further explanations:

  • Why uuencode? ADB console seems to intercept the data stream and obviously inserts a carriage return before each single line feed. Uuencoding the data before transmitting it via adb's stdout protects against that.
  • Does not work on encrypted devices
  • You can also just repeat the process on unmounted devices and transmit all of the /dev/block/* one by one and figure out which one is for what afterwards
  • You need to find a suitable CWM recovery image yourself
  • I typed that first fastboot command. It's stuck on <waiting for device>. What does that mean?
    – Jason C
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 1:35
  • 1
    A device in fastboot mode wasn't detected and the program needs either more rights or is waiting for you to plug in a device in fastboot mode. What model do you have? If it's a Nexus or a Sony: is the bootloader unlocked (else fastboot boot doesnt work)? You need to press some unique key combo on each device to boot it into this mode. Note that Samsung phones don't offer the fastboot command mode at all.
    – ce4
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 12:32
  • Thanks. I have a Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD. Do I need to hold power button + volume down when booting? I didn't realize that's what "fastboot" mode was, but I just read it on the Motorola site while researching something else. I will try it when I get home from work.
    – Jason C
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 16:40
  • You will probably need to get it fixed, I'm doubtful that this model has an unlocked bootloader that has the fastboot boot feature.
    – ce4
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 0:13
  • Late addition: Instead of using uuencode, an easier way would be: adb shell "stty raw & tar czf - /tmp/backup" > /tmp/backup.tar.gz. The stty raw tells the system to send the data "raw" (i.e. unaltered) – and not add any carriage returns to it. So one requirement less, as stty is available on the device as it ships.
    – Izzy
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 14:51

The Droid X does not have a physical keyboard - but if it did you could try this in a terminal. I'm leaving this answer here for other phones that have busted screens.

setprop persist.service.adb.enable 1

That turns on USB debugging (on a HTC Dream running RC29), and is one of the ways to root the Dream when it has a busted screen.

  • Where do I type this?
    – Jason C
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 1:33
  • 1
    @JasonC In an Android command-line shell. If you don't already have a method of getting to one, you're not going to be able to set one up with the screen broken.
    – Dan Hulme
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 10:55
  • If the device supports USB OTG, you could hook up a USB keyboard, then need to know the key sequence or key combination to bring up a Terminal, then enter the command line.
    – porg
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 13:17

If the device is capable of USB host mode you can buy a USB-OTG cable (USB on the go) and connect a USB mouse or a USB keyboard to bypass the broken touch screen.

  • I have GT-I9305 device which should support USB OTG, at least 'google' says so, but if I connect my wireless mouse nothing happens, any ideas how to get cursor working?
    – tomasb
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 18:13
  • @tomasb Were you ever able to get the mouse to be recognized?
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 2:08
  • 2
    @Jason Yes, I was. Both USB OTG and Bluetooth mouse, the solution is quite complex but i haven't found anything simpler (or just working) yet, described here: android.stackexchange.com/a/69600/60711 My situation was little bit more complicated because I flashed new ROM thus had my android uninitialized.
    – tomasb
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 22:26

I had my digitizer burned (by flashing corrupted recovery) and flashed new ROM and I was able to proceed as described here: https://android.stackexchange.com/a/69600/60711

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