So, yesterday my phone took a serious tumble. It is now essentially useless, as the screen either fails to turn on, or when it does, there is nothing useful to see (just lines of primary colors, mostly).

I believe (from the fact that it still chirps at me when emails come in, etc), that the phone is still functional, otherwise.

I would like to perform a full system dump, so that I can get off any files from the phone (a TMobile SGS2 (hercules) running slimrom 4.3 build 1). The sdcard probably isn't important, as I can just pull it, but the phone's own internal storage I should like to get a copy of.

When I plug the phone into a usb port, it 'mounts' the usb via MTP, and I can see all the files. Unfortunately, when I do a select all | copy | paste operation, the paste op dies before transferring all files. I've tried a couple other ADB shell operations, in hope of flipping regular USB mounting on, but nothing has worked.

Any ideas how I can get a full dump of my poor phone's contents?


Currently running a adb pull /sdcard/ ... Its copying files presently, but its too early to tell if its going to get evertying I'm expecting.

Edit #2

looks like its going to work...its taking a rather long time, but it appears to be grabbing everything I was expecting it to.

  • Having tagged your question twrp: Do you have TWRP (or any other custom recovery) installed? Can you boot into it and see what you're doing (after all, that's text mode and might still work)? If so, a Nandroid backup can be done from there.
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 13:13
  • I've got no screen to speak of, I don't even get the boot loader animations, or anything. Every once in a while I get a few random geometrics, but nothing that I can navigate with, and even that is getting more and more uncommon. I'm afraid that whatever I do needs to be over ADB or similar commandline interface. I referenced TWRP, just in case there was some special trick that it could do.
    – reidLinden
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 13:20
  • I see. As for adb pull: You're aware you're not getting a "real dump" this way which you could easily restore, I hope. Though not having a full strategy available, I'd say it would be a better approach to dump the file systems (e.g. using dd). There might even be a way to trigger the Nandroid Backup via ADB, AFAIK there's a corresponding script on the device.
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 14:38
  • Yes, thank you. I'm not so much interested in the overall 'dump', as in just making sure any personal files that may have been stored off the SDCard. The pull DID seem to get me exactly what I needed.
    – reidLinden
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:00
  • 3
    Indeed, when that's your goal that should work. You could even skip some file systems (such as /system, /boot, /recovery, and /cache) then. What you're looking for most likely resides on /data (app-stored date, which you also could get hold on using adb backup) or the internal SDCard (the external one, if there is such, you can simply attach to your computer using a card reader).
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


Not a full-fledged answer, as even an excerpt would make it a rather long post, but here are some things you could try:

  • An XDA article describes How To Backup and Restore using tar on adb shell. The article holds complete scripts for both. Still you should not execute them straight ahead as they are, but first use e.g. the mount command (without parameters) to make sure the mount points are correct, as they might differ between devices.
  • Use AndroidScreencast1 to "transfer the display to your PC". This way you see what you are doing, and might be able to backup using apps like Titanium Backup or Helium Backup
  • GadgetsDNA has a useful article with 15 Useful Android Terminal (ADB Shell) Commands2, including how to restore a Nandroid backup via fastboot. Unfortunately, nothing to create such.
  • A German Tutorial at Android-Hilfe.DE (GoogleTranslate Variant) describes a tool named ADBRecovery, including download links. This should enable you to do a Nandroid backup as well as restore.

I hope one of these hints proves helpful to you.

1: original code seems no longer maintained; yankee found this maintained fork working fine
2: links to Archive.ORG as the original page is gone; you can also find it at Slideshare

  • appreciate your answer. Definitely helpful.
    – reidLinden
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:01
  • 3
    The linked version of AndroidScreenshot has not been maintained for a while and did not work with my Samsung Galaxy S3 (image distorted). However the fork here worked for me.
    – yankee
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 19:37
  • 1
    Thanks, @yankee – integrated that with my answer, credits given :)
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 20:35

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