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Device: ASUS Zenfone 2 ZE551ml

OS: Android 5.0

Notes: Not rooted, USB debugging not enabled, no custom recovery

My phone's storage got too full after recording too many videos and I backed them up to Google Photos. I hadn't backed up or moved the files to any other location and my phone ran out of power in the process of backing up to Google and when I tried to boot it, it got stuck on bootloop (is that what it's called?) where the screen gets stuck on the ASUS logo with the loading circle. I've tried rebooting it, charging it for eight hours, clearing the cache partition, rebooting it again overnight and it still hasn't revived yet. Since my phone is not rooted, developers option and USB debugging is not activated, and I don't have any custom recovery services installed I can't use ADB or SDK and the like.

Since the full memory is most likely the main issue here and I can still access recovery mode, I'm not too worried about my phone getting hard bricked. All I really want to do is recover my data, mainly photos (the ones that might not have been successfully backed up in Google) and .txt files from my Inkpad Notepad app which I stupidly didn't sync/back up for 5 months. As I mentioned my phone is not rooted, USB debugging isn't enabled, and I don't have CWM or anything like that so I can't access my internal memory from recovery mode. I am also almost blind to technology and tinkering with electronic devices is too complicated for me and I doubt I would be able to execute it well, so I was thinking of doing a factory reset and immediately using a file recovery app to recover my data. From what I've gathered, it's possible to recover files from a factory reset as long as the cached (?) file remains don't get overwritten, and so it's best to not use the device after factory resetting it. If I'm mistaken, please correct me.

Now I have a few questions about this; please bear with me:

  1. What application/program would be the best to recover .txt files?

Most file recovery apps can recover images, videos, audios and even documents but so far I haven't seen one that explicitly lists TXT in its list of files it can recover. I really want to recover my notes, so I want to be sure that I can prepare an app that can actually recover my files. I've tried DiskDigger before, but it was to recover an image so I don't know how well it would work for other file types. Also, I would appreciate it if the app were free, although it doesn't have to be so long as it works well.

Also, what android file recovery programs do you recommend in general? Which ones actually work well? Because I've seen a lot of mixed reviews regarding these apps, at least in Playstore.

  1. Would this method work if I root my phone after factory resetting it?

Since my phone was not previously rooted, I have concerns if this method would work. Would rooting my phone after factory resetting affect my data remains?

  1. If this method is possible, could you provide me with step-by-step instructions on how to do it so I don't mess up?

  2. If this method is not possible/unreliable, would you have any suggestions on how I can actually recover my files?

Are my files actually recoverable? Are .txt files recoverable? Will I be able to recover my data and photos in relatively good quality? I recognise I have been negligent in backing up my data and I plan on never doing it again within my capabilities. I desperately want my data back, so if anyone can help me with this, it will be much appreciated. If anything happens I will be sure to update. Thank you.

Edit: I have not done a factory reset yet, my phone is still just turned off for the time being.

Also, this got me thinking. Does unlocking bootloader and factory resetting delete the data in the same way? If so, could unlocking bootloader make my phone boot properly again, instead of factory resetting first and double-deleting my data. Would that work?

  • Possible duplicate of How to recover a deleted file from /data partition? – Irfan Latif Jul 10 at 11:32
  • In order to recover data you need either some custom recovery or root access. Both require unlocked bootloader. And unlocking bootloader must erase everything on your /data and /cache partitions, making it irrecoverable, even from, what you call, cached files. See this answer as well: android.stackexchange.com/a/214496/218526. If you somehow manage to boot custom recovery without data being erased, you can for sure access it. But that's highly unlikely, though depends on SoC/OEM if they programmed their bootloader to erase data or not. – Irfan Latif Jul 10 at 11:35
  • So that means if I unlock bootloader, there will be absolutely no way to recover my data? Is there no way to root my phone without unlocking bootloader? What can I do about this situation? I'm pretty blind about Android and everything, so although the posts you've linked are useful I don't understand much of it. Is my data completely unrecoverable at this point? Do I have any hope of resurrecting my phone without factory resetting? Sorry for so many questions, and thanks for your time. – needshelp Jul 10 at 15:12
  • I never used Asus, never used Intel SoC, and I don't recommend going for unofficial modifications to your device. But here is an unofficial method listed to boot your device in custom recovery without unlocking bootloader. You may try it on your own risk. – Irfan Latif Jul 10 at 16:10
  • Sorry, but I have more questions. Can CWM recover files if factory reset was done? How can I recover deleted files with CWM? Since from what I've read, CWM mainly backs up the data before restoring it. Also does unlocking bootloader and factory resetting delete the data in the same way? If so, since my phone's main problem is a full memory, could unlocking bootloader make my phone boot properly again, instead of factory resetting first and double-deleting my data? Would it matter? Or does unlocking bootloader just erase everything? – needshelp Jul 11 at 2:15

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