I have a Nexus 5X, fully updated to 7.1.1, that I used today to take pictures at a site for my research. The Photos app is set to backup when on WiFi.

Of course, however, the phone decided to randomly crash on the way home (let me tell you, navigating in a foreign country without GPS all of a sudden... not the most fun thing in the world) and subsequently will only go to the fastboot screen.

When I choose Recovery Mode, nothing happens (but the volume up/down keys no longer have any affect). In effect, the device is frozen, still showing the fastboot screen, but not actually in fastboot mood since on booting to the fastboot screen, my device is visible using the fastboot devices on my computer (I develop apps so the developer options have already been enabled). However, after choosing Recovery Mode, the device is no longer visible under either fastboot devices or under adb devices.

Clearly, there is a problem with the recovery partition.

Is there any way I can dump the hard drive so I can later recover data (I have all the passwords / screen lock codes, if that's necessary to access the data)? Or can I replace the recovery mode partition with a fresh copy? Most guides seem to indicate that this would delete all of my user data.

Is there anything that can be done to salvage the data? While any other day losing a single day's worth of pictures wouldn't be a huge loss, there is no way I can go back to take the pictures again for months, and then requires me having to explain to people of all levels of bureaucracy why I need to be given access again =/

2 Answers 2


I don't believe flashing a new recovery will wipe your data partition. I would refer to user7610s answer as this seems like a similar issue except that you would like to access the /sdcard to recover your pictures. Best of luck! Edit: This is assuming you already have an unlocked bootloader as you seem to know what fastboot mode is.


Sure, you can flash a recovery image at the bootloader using fastboot and not lose anything.

  1. Get the factory recovery image from the factory image .zip files from here. Inside of the factory image zip file(s), there will be a file called recovery.img, which is the stock recovery image. You'll need that. Make sure you get the correct factory image that your device is currently running.

  2. Boot the phone to the bootloader, connect phone to your computer.

  3. Erase the current recovery by using fastboot: fastboot erase recovery

  4. Flash the recovery.img file using fastboot: fastboot flash recovery recovery.img

Now you've flashed a fresh recovery image to your device. You can do this without losing any data, and if you use a custom recovery like TWRP, these instructions apply as well. I do this all the time when I reload the stock software on my Nexus 6.

For adb in recovery not recognizing your device, you have installed the drivers (Windows) which are in the Android SDK located at C:\wherever your sdk is located\extras\google\usb_driver\? Device Manager may show a triangle with a ? mark on the device when connected in recovery mode, this should help with that.

  • Will doing 3 and 4 require erasing user data or does using factory image files prevent the need to unlock the bootloader? (I'm on a slow connection so it will be a while before I can test with the factory image files) Dec 30, 2016 at 1:35
  • No, it does not require erasing userdata. You would only lose data if you flash ALL of the factory images, since this is just flashing the recovery.img file, the only thing erased is recovery (and then it is reflashed in Step 4). Dec 30, 2016 at 14:09
  • Is your bootloader unlocked? Dec 30, 2016 at 14:09
  • no, it's not. [Min15char] Dec 31, 2016 at 15:26

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