It can feel like a little part of you died when your Android suddenly won’t boot. Maybe you did take some risks—it’s hard to resist customizing, optimizing, or tweaking your device. Or maybe you just unassumingly accepted an OTA update, thinking it could only improve the performance of your Android. Problems at boot aren’t always easy to narrow down either—it could be the firmware, hardware, or software—which pretty much sums up your entire phone.
That being said, keep in mind that this can be a challenging and stubborn issue. The severity of the problem often depends on whether your phone is soft or hard-bricked. For those unfamiliar with this terminology, if you can still manipulate your device to some extent it’s most like soft-bricked, and there’s more hope for ease of repair. However, if your Android seems as useless as a brick, there may still be solutions, but a fix may prove more difficult and usually costly.
3 Helpful Diagnostic Modes
Figuring out what’s wrong is especially tricky when there’s a problem at boot, right from the start. Your device may seem unwilling to let you get anywhere or work with you at all. However, your Android is essentially a little computer, and like computers, there are built-in options for bypassing a boot problem—at least to the extent you can troubleshoot. And if your Android won’t boot successfully, some of these modes may be the only place you can go.
Safe Mode allows you to boot into the system without running any third-party software. Don’t expect to jump into Safe Mode to finish out your Pokemon Go game on the fly because that isn’t what this is for, and you won’t have access. Instead, this is what you can use to determine whether your problem is more app or system-related because it boots with only those apps that came with your Android right out-of-the-box. If your system functions normally in Safe Mode, it’s very likely the issue is with an app you downloaded.
Recovery Mode is also aptly named because it is intended for that very purpose—to give you some options to allow your phone to recover. It is here that you can first try wiping the cache partition and rebooting. If you previously prepared a backup for your phone, you may restore it from Recovery Mode. And if all else fails, you can perform a factory reset, which should return your Android to a clean slate.
Bootloader Mode can be a means to get to Recovery, or it can offer some similar options depending on the type of Android you have. Some manufacturers also refer to this as Download or Fastboot Mode. The bootloader is code that executes before the operating system does, so that even if your issue is the system itself, you can still salvage at least most aspects of your device. The means to access both Bootloader, and Recovery Mode depends heavily on your Android’s manufacturer, but most provide a specific key combination.
Common Fixes for Common Problems
Problem 1: Bootloop/Stuck at Android Logo Screen
Although scary, this is a common problem that can be resolved most of the time. The odds are high that you will encounter this at some point if you like to change things up a lot on your phone. It could be that a third-party app is preventing you from “passing Go.” Quite often, though, the problem is with the operating system itself, as a result of a bug or manipulation. These are the methods that will help you troubleshoot Android boot problems.
1. Soft Reset/Power Cycle
So simple, only if it works. Long-press the Power button for about 10 seconds. Some devices require that you hold both the Power and Volume Up button together at the same time. Restart your phone.
2. Remove Battery/Replace Battery
Many manufacturers have moved away from building devices with removable batteries, but if possible, dislodge your battery from its compartment for a few moments before reinserting. You can also try a different battery if you happen to have a spare, or you can look into buying another if the software solutions provided don’t work.
3. Check for Stuck Buttons
Look for buttons that are being pressed down. This could be due to dust, dirt, spilled liquid, oil, or even the case you are using. You can clean around the buttons very carefully. You’ll first want to power down your Android and remove the battery if your device permits. You can apply some isopropyl alcohol to a Q-tip to clean or employ a canned air duster. If it’s your case, try a different one that fits better.
4. Safe Mode
As mentioned above, Safe Mode is something to try especially if the issue started after the installation of a third-party app. However, it sounds like you might not get there from the Home screen because that’s just out of reach. If so, you will have to rely on the key combination suitable for your device. Honestly, though, if you are having major problems it might be best to cut to the chase and perform a factory reset, which will wipe out all of your third-party apps. For me, it depends on my level of frustration and desperation, and the amount of time I have.
5. Wipe Cache/Wipe Dalvik Cache
Go into Recovery Mode using the key combination that works for your device. For example, on Android One, you can access Recovery Mode by first turning your device off, then pressing and holding the Volume Up and Power buttons simultaneously. You can then use the Volume buttons to navigate and make your selections. Choose the option to Wipe Cache, then return to the Main Menu and choose Reboot System Now.
Wiping the Dalvik Cache will be available under the Advanced option if you have installed a custom recovery, and could prove very helpful if you have recently tried to flash a new ROM. Also, visit Mounts and Storage and Wipe Data as well as Wipe Cache there. Most the time, this solution will fix your Android boot problem.
6. Use Your Manufacturer’s PC Suite
Connect your device to a computer and get a little help from manufacturers’ software. Samsung provides Samsung Kies; LG offers the LG PC Suite; Sony Xperia users may benefit from Sony’s PC Companion, etc. These programs can help you backup data and complete any necessary updates.
7. Remove/Format SD Card
If you have been receiving SD card errors, or you suspect that your SD card is corrupted, then consider formatting or removing and replacing it. Some SD cards are too damaged for a reformatting to make much difference. If possible, backup the data on your SD card to your PC first. After you have transferred those files, right-click on your SD card drive in Computer or My Computer and select Format. You can also use an SD card reader to format your card to a FAT32 partition. If your Android keeps sending you straight to Recovery Mode, reformatting the SD card can allow you to copy a new ROM directly to the memory card. Once you’ve done that, you insert it back into your device, go to Recovery Mode, and select Mounts and Storage. Then you can opt to Mount SD Card and select the ROM’s zip to Install.
8. Fix Incorrect File Permissions
If you have previously installed CWM or TWRP recovery programs, boot into Recovery Mode. Once there, select the Advanced option. Tap Fix Permissions to confirm. You can also try fixing some common permissions manually.
- Within /System/app, /System/framework, /System/etc, /System/build.prop, /System/lib, and many more:
- Set permissions to 644 (RW-R-R)
- Within /System/etc/init.d and Busybox files:
- Set permissions to 777 (RWX-RWX-RWX)
- Within /System/bin:
- Set permissions to 755 (RWX-RX-RX)
9. Factory Reset
If you have dispensed with all other tactics and you just want a fresh start, or you had the foresight to create a nice backup just for an occasion like this, a Factory Reset is the way to go. It gets the name from returning your phone to its state after it left the factory, and before you got a hold of it.
In other words, any changes you have made after you first got your device will vanish unless you have a backup. Exceptions to this are that a hard/factory reset will NOT roll back any updates you have performed or any new ROMs that you might have flashed. To access this option, go into Recovery Mode and select Wipe Data/Factory Reset. Return to the Main Menu and reboot.
10. Install Official Stock ROM/Working Custom ROM
If the bootloop is the result of a modification to the system, such as installing a custom ROM, it might be best to fight fire with fire. It’s highly likely that an incompatible file or malfunctioning code is causing the problem. Even when nothing is wrong, it can take a long time for your device to boot for the first time after the installation, so be sure to give it 5-10 minutes before you assume you are dealing with a bootloop.
If you can access Bootloader or Recovery Mode, and you have a system backup, all that’s needed is to restore that backup from the menu. If not, you will want to install a new official stock ROM onto your device, or a custom ROM that has worked in the past. Flash the ROM and reboot. If you have a Samsung, you can use the Odin program to help you. For Motorola, there’s RSD Lite. HTC stock ROMs can be installed directly from Bootloader Mode. Sony users can use Flashtool. ADB is another tool commonly used.
11. Seek Outside Help
Sometimes, especially if it’s a hardware issue, it will just save you time and frustration to have your Android repaired by the manufacturer or retailer. If you can still use your warranty, why not?
Problem 2. Power Struggles
If your Android won’t boot due to a lack of power, it’s quite often a hardware issue. And hardware issues sometimes require the replacement of parts or even entire devices. But sometimes it’s simpler than that. If your device is hard-bricked, it’s likely due to a complete hardware failure, and there may not be a lot you can do.
1. Let it Charge
Give it at least 10 minutes, if not more like 30. The cat videos can wait at least that long, surely.
2. Discharge Circuit/Clear RAM
Remove battery and SD card and long-press the Power button for one minute. Reinsert the battery.
3. Combat Water Damage
A lot of Androids don’t like water. Allow your Android to dry for one day. Remove its back panel, including the battery and immerse in rice or silica gel. After you’ve charged the device, try starting your Android in Recovery Mode, wipe the cache, and reboot.
4. Check Charging Conditions
Does your phone have a broken or bent port? Does the charger fit too loosely? Have you tried a different charger? A different outlet?
5. Replace Battery
If your phone doesn’t turn on unless it’s connected to a charger, you could have a faulty battery. If a hard reset or a new ROM doesn’t solve things, you’ll either have to keep your device on life support, get a new battery, or purchase a new Android altogether.
Problem 3. Flashing Failures: ADB Can’t Detect Device/Status 7 Error Message
It’s a little difficult to flash a new ROM if the program you are using acts like it doesn’t exist or you get an error message showing Status 7. And since flashing a new ROM may be the only way to solve your booting problem sometimes, we’ll discuss how these problems may be addressed.
Solutions to ADB: Device Not Found Error
1. Enable USB Debugging
Go to Settings > About Device and tap Build Number seven times. When you see the announcement that you are a developer, go back to Settings and select Developer Options > USB Debugging.
2. Check Cable
Ensure that your USB cable is in good working order and that you have the USB connection set to MTP or PTP.
3. Confirm Detection of Drivers
It is crucial that you’ve installed the correct drivers for both ADB and the USB connections. For help with both, read this tutorial. Some ADB installation packages come with drivers, and many manufacturers provide driver packages on their website, or you can go to a site like PdaNet.
You can check to make sure that the drivers are installed or troubleshoot by going to Control Panel > Device Manager on your PC. If you see any exclamation marks by any item, right-click and choose Update Driver Software. Select Browse my computer for driver software, and Let me pick from a list… Choose your device, then the Android ADB Device option. Unplug your Android and plug it back in. You should now be able to go to Control Panel > Device Manager > Your Android and see Android Composite ADB Interface. Additionally, you should be able to open a command prompt and type: adb devices and see your device. If you still don’t see it, try using the ADB Wireless app.
Download: ADB Wireless
Solutions to Status 7 Error Message
4. Install TWRP Instead
This problem is related to CWM Recovery. To bypass it, you can install TWRP instead.
Download: TWRP Manager (Requires ROOT)
5. Update CWM
If you like CWM Recovery, you can also try updating to its latest version using ROM Manager.
Download: ROM Manager
Booting problems aren’t fun, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end for your device. In addition, you might also find Android toolkits like SkipSoft to be useful for accomplishing some of these troubleshooting tasks.
We also publish basic troubleshooting articles for specific Android makes and models all the time. The solutions described can vary by type of device, so if the details for the method aren’t listed, perform a search on our site. Or if they don’t seem to match your Android, search the method and your make/model and you will probably find instructions on JOA.
Do you have booting troubleshooting advice? Send us your thoughts.