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I have a first generation Google Pixel the bootloader of which is unlocked and is running stock Pie. I need to recover deleted files on it because a move operation got effed up by ES File Explorer with confusing dialogs. Performing file recovery requires root, but I don't want to install a custom ROM. Is there instead a way I can run one in RAM that is delivered to the device over USB?

  • Root isn't tied to custom ROMs. Just flash Magisk on top of your current ROM. – Andy Yan Mar 25 at 1:48
  • @AndyYan Thanks, but I know that. I said I am NOT looking to install a custom ROM. I want to run it over USB. – Melab Mar 25 at 19:07
  • I still don't see why you won't. Installing Magisk on top of your current ROM is not installing a custom ROM, can be easily uninstalled, does not affect OTA (if installed correctly), and ultimately your goal is recovering files (admittedly installing has a small theoretical chance of overwriting deleted content, but so does powering up your phone and using it). // On the other hand, the possibility to run arbitrary low-level code over USB sounds too dangerous to be allowed by manufacturers. – Andy Yan Mar 26 at 1:06
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Answer is too late but may be helpful for future visitors.

First of all, there are a number of factors which make data recovery impossible, particularly if you keep on using the device. See this answer for more details.

Secondly since you have an unlcked bootloader (but don't want to go with custom ROM), you can flash a custom recovery like TWRP (or boot directly from fastboot) and from there dump your /data partition to a PC using simply dd command or USB Mass Storage (UMS). Then you can apply any data recovery techniques on the partition image e.g. recovering from journal or by carving through sectors.

For detailed steps: How to recover a deleted file from /data partition?

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