Get data from a phone that won't turn on
Get data from a phone that won't turn on

Our phones are treasure troves of memories, important documents, and invaluable data. The nightmare scenario? The phone suddenly won’t turn on, and all that data seems lost. But is it really? It’s possible your data is still accessible or extractable so don’t panic just yet – there are several things you can try before giving up.

Some of the tips in this article will be obvious, some won’t. But one we want to highlight because we see it all the time in the repair business is this: see if your local repair shop will help. Let’s say you have an old phone that you aren’t interested in using anymore but need the data off of it. Additionally, let’s say that the screen is dead, touch isn’t working, a swollen battery is preventing the phone from booting, etc. Something physical would need to be replaced on the phone to get it to start up. The part(s) related costs of fixing your device may be too much to stomach for a phone that you don’t plan to keep anyway.

If this is the predicament you find yourself in (a lot of people do) you can work with a local repair shop to do a temporary fix, extract your data for you, and then recycle or dispose of the phone. We do this all the time for our customers and a lot of shops around the country can do the same. Sometimes a shop will be willing to reduce what you owe if you let them keep/recycle the parts as part of the deal. This is a win-win scenario – you get your data, they get valuable replacement parts to use on other repairs.

Now let’s explore other scenarios related to how to recover data from a phone that won’t power up.

Common Reasons Why Phones Don’t Turn On

  • Hardware Failures: Over time, phone components can wear out, leading to failures. This includes the motherboard, connectors, or any internal part.
  • Software Glitches: Corrupted software or a failed update can prevent a phone from booting up.
  • Battery Issues: A completely drained or faulty battery can be the culprit behind a phone that won’t turn on.
  • Water or Physical Damage: Dropping your phone in water or a hard impact can cause internal damage, preventing it from powering up.

Steps to Recover Data

1. Check the Basics First

Before diving into advanced recovery methods, ensure you’ve covered the basics:

  • Battery Issues: Sometimes, the battery is the culprit. If it’s removable, try replacing it with a new one.
  • Physical Damage: If your phone suffered a fall or water damage, it might be causing the power issue. In cases of water damage, drying the phone thoroughly might help.
  • Charge Your Phone: Before panicking, plug in your phone. Sometimes, it’s just a completely drained battery.
  • Pull The Memory Card From Your Phone (If It Has One): This isn’t a tip that will work for most users, but if you happen to have a phone that stores data on a memory card you can pull it and read your data using a card reader.

2. Check The Cloud – iCloud or Google Account Sync

This is probably the best way to recover your data if the phone itself is dead.


Apple iPhone users who sync to iCloud should have a nearly complete backup of their phone if it’s ever lost, stolen, damaged, or dead. You can login to your iCloud account online at or you can login to an Apple device and draw in all of your data from iCloud. This is also a great way to transfer data from an old phone to a new one if you’re upgrading. The only caveat? You must have been syncing to the cloud prior to your phone becoming unusable.

Google Account Sync

For Android users, if your phone was synced with your Google account, there’s a high chance your photos and contacts are already backed up on Google Photos and Google Contacts, respectively. Simply access these platforms from any device to retrieve your data. Google might be the easiest platform to recover cloud data from because they seamlessly integrate the mobile device and desktop experiences. When you log into your Google account from a desktop (or another mobile device) you should instantly have access to all of the files that you synced prior to losing access to your phone.

3. Some Basic Troubleshooting Tips

  • Try a Soft Reset: For many phones, holding down the power button and volume down button simultaneously can reboot the device.
  • Boot in Safe Mode: This mode loads the phone without any third-party apps. It can help if an app is causing the boot issue.
  • Use a Data Recovery Tool: There are several tools available that can be connected to a phone via a computer to recover data, even if the phone doesn’t turn on.

4. DIY Methods for the Tech-Savvy

If you’re feeling adventurous and have some technical know-how, you can try the following:

  • Flashing Process: This involves removing the phone’s USB driver and substituting another to make your PC recognize the phone as a USB memory device. However, ensure you don’t flash the phone as it might erase your data.
  • Chip-Off Process: This is a more advanced method where the phone’s internal memory chip is de-soldered from the logic board and placed in a specific reader to extract data.

Seeking Professional Help

If DIY methods fail, consider seeking help from professionals who specialize in data recovery. They have advanced tools and techniques to retrieve data from seemingly dead phones.

3rd Party Cell Phone Repair Shops

Third party shops should be able to do at least a basic analysis on your phone to see if it’s truly dead – and they may be equipped to recover from some of the more simple issues. For example, a big reason people get their phone screens repaired on older models is so that they can boot up the phone, get the data from it, then recycle it. A cell phone repair shop should be able to handle that for you.

But if the logic board / motherboard in the phone is completely dead, the options will be extremely limited.

Professional Data Recovery Services

If the above methods don’t work, consider seeking help from professional data recovery services. These experts can:

  • Access Internal Memory: Through advanced techniques, professionals can access the internal memory chip of a dead phone, extract data, and convert it into readable formats.
  • Handle Encrypted Data: For phones with encrypted data, recovery is possible if the logic board is functional. If not, parts of the logic board can be replaced to make it operational.

At GadgetMates we work with Secure Data ( for advanced data recovery solutions for both mobile and desktop devices.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

To avoid future data loss:

  • Regular Backups: Always back up your data regularly to cloud services or external storage devices.
  • Use Protective Gear: Invest in good quality phone cases and screen protectors to shield your device from physical damage.
  • Avoid Exposure to Water: Keep your phone away from water sources and consider getting a water-resistant phone.


Losing access to your phone can be stressful, especially when precious data is at stake. However, with the right methods and tools, data recovery is possible. Whether you choose to DIY or seek professional help, always prioritize the safety of your data.

While a phone that won’t turn on can induce panic, especially if it holds crucial data, sometimes there are ways to retrieve your information. With a combination of preventive measures and knowledge of recovery methods, you can ensure your data remains safe and accessible.


  1. Is it possible to recover data from a water-damaged phone?
    • Yes, but it’s crucial to seek professional help immediately and avoid turning the phone on.
  2. How often should I back up my phone data?
    • It’s recommended to back up data weekly or after adding essential files.
  3. Can software updates cause my phone not to turn on?
    • Rarely, but a corrupted update can cause boot issues. Always ensure a stable internet connection during updates.
  4. Are all data recovery tools safe?
    • Not all. Always use trusted and recommended tools to prevent further data loss or corruption.
  5. How long should I charge my phone before trying to turn it on?
    • If the battery is entirely drained, charge it for at least 30 minutes before attempting to power up.
  6. Can I recover data from a water-damaged phone?
    • Yes, but it’s crucial to dry the phone thoroughly first. If the phone still doesn’t turn on, consider professional data recovery services.
  7. Is it expensive to use professional data recovery services?
    • Costs can vary based on the complexity of the issue and the service provider. It’s best to get a quote before proceeding.
  8. How can I prevent data loss in the future?
    • Regularly back up your data, use protective gear for your phone, and avoid situations where your phone might get damaged.
Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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