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GPS Failed? This May Fix It

Discussion in 'Android Tech Support' started by Erich_F, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. Erich_F
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    Erich_F New Member

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    There have been a number of reported Droid GPS failures. Some failures seem to be attributed to former Alltel customers, and some seem to be some sort of software hiccup.

    I had my first Droid GPS fail on the second day I had it, and went straight to the nearest VZW store to exchange the phone. I had the second unit for about a week, until that phone's GPS also failed while on a work trip in Gainesville, FL. I then proceeded over the next several hours to try and get the phone's GPS back up.

    After a long trial and error process, where I reset the phone about a dozen times, used various orders of operations, etc, I finally got the GPS to get a valid fix, and it has been working great ever since. The symptoms of the GPS failure include a constant "Searching for GPS" message on Maps, and no fix when using the App "GPS Status". In GPS Status, you may have up to 10 satellites in view, but none will lock in a fix. Here is the procedure I went through that got my GPS to lock. Remember, your phone's GPS failure might be related to a different issue, and this might not work. The process only takes about an hour, which is a lot faster than a trip to the VZW store for an exchange.


    Warning: this will totally wipe your Droid, but it’s better than a trip to the store and a new phone (which might have another set of issues). Your favorite Apps and Contacts will be re-installed from the Google Sync service, but your home screen will reset to Factory appearance. So, you will have to rebuild your home screen layouts.


    Procedure:

    1.0: Go to Android Market and select Downloads in the menu button. Go through each non-native, location-based app and uninstall it. This is any app that uses your GPS to get a location. This includes just about any weather or location search app.
    1.1: WHY? Your Droid Apps are synced on the Google server. So, following a factory reset, your Droid will re-install any apps you had installed prior to the reset. Uninstalling from the phone only does not remove them from the Google Sync listing.

    2.0: Connect your Droid to a PC and mount the SD card. Go to your SD card using the PC and make a copy of the SD card contents to a temp folder for easy access later.
    2.1: Unmount the SD card from the PC and go to the Settings > SD Card and Phone Storage menu.
    2.2: Select Unmount SD Card
    2.3: Select Format SD Card
    2.4: Return to Home page and power off phone.

    3.0: Remove the Droid back cover and battery. Remove the SD Card and re-install battery.

    4.0: Power on Phone normally.
    4.1: Go to the Settings menu and select Privacy > Factory Data Reset.
    4.2: Phone will shutoff, wipe, and power back on. Do not do anything until you get the green Android Graphic on the screen, indicating ready to re-activate phone.
    4.3: DO NOT ACTIVATE phone at this time. Instead, power off phone as normal.
    4.4: Remove the battery again, and set Droid aside with battery removed for at least 30 minutes.

    5.0: After at least 30 minutes, reinstall the battery, but NOT the SD card.
    5.1: Power up the phone.
    5.2: Tap the Android graphic, and the Droid will dial the Verizon system for re-activation. Follow the voice prompts to re-activate the phone. Once activated, the Droid will hang up automatically.
    5.3: SKIP the tutorial and sign in to your existing Google Account.
    5.4: Allow the phone to sync with Google.
    5.5: Go to Settings > Location and Security Settings. Disable Use Wireless Networks.

    6.0: Access the Android Market and install the GPS Status application.
    6.1: Place the Droid in a window with a fairly clear view of the sky.
    6.2: Activate the GPS Status application and let phone sit in window for about 15-30 minutes.
    6.3: After 30 minutes or so, the GPS fix should be valid and active.

    7.0: Using the Advanced Task Killer, kill all apps.
    7.1: While still in view of the sky, activate the Maps application. Your Location should fix within 10-15 seconds.
    7.2: Using Advanced Task Killer, kill all apps, including Maps.
    7.3: Go to Settings > Location and Security Settings. Enable Use Wireless Networks.

    8.0: Power off phone, remove battery, and re-install SD card.
    8.1: Power up Droid normally.
    8.2: Connect to PC and Mount SD card.
    8.3 Restore SD card contents from Temp folder on PC.
    8.4 Power off Droid and power back up.

    Procedure Complete. Try the Maps App again to make sure your location fix is still working. Use GPS Status to monitor GPS health.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2009
  2. makke
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    makke New Member

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    I just returned from a business trip to Florida with my Droid. The phone was in Airplane Mode on the flight. On the way from Orlando to the Kennedy Space Center, the GPS in the droid failed (could not get a lock). After my meeting at KSC several hours later, the GPS worked just fine to guide me to the hotel. It worked fine for the next 2 days driving around Cape Canaveral and KSC. It failed again when I tried to use it to return to the Orlando airport. When I got off the plane in Baltimore, it worked again.

    At least for me, the problem resolved itself without resetting the phone or any other drastic measures. (I did try turning it off a few times, but that did not help). https://supportforums.motorola.com/thread/17966?start=0&tstart=0 are suggesting that the GPS failure problem appears to be particularly accute in FL. I personally have had no problems for three weeks in Maryland.

    Erich -- did you re-install the location aware apps onto your phone after you wiped it? Did you stay around Gainsville for a few days afterward without any problems?

    Michael
  3. Erich_F
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    Erich_F New Member

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    Location:
    Odessa, FL
    I was in Gainesville for the entire next day, ending with a Nav back to Tampa...no issues.

    I reinstalled all apps with the exception of the Tricord sensor app and the Weather Bug widget. Everything else seems to be playing well together.

    Since this fix, I have not had any GPS failures around Tampa, Ocala, or Gainesville.

    Erich
  4. jeepfreak99
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    jeepfreak99 New Member

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    I'm trying not to jinx myself, but I think your procedure fixed my wife's Droid. I did your fix days ago and it's been able to lock on a gps since. Thanks for sparing me the Verizon return hassel!
  5. Abe21599
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    Abe21599 RS/Moderator

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    I was an alltel customer before the merger but I never had any problems with my gps so far..

    but the alltel/verizon merger did mess up a blackberry I had in the past
  6. justbob
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    justbob New Member

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    This procedure seems overly complex if you ask me. I was able to get mine working with this procedure I found on the Motorola support forum:

    Download and Install and App called "GPS Status"

    Go to Settings
    Tap Location and Security
    Uncheck Use Wireless Networks
    Run Advanced Task Killer and close all Apps
    Start GPS Status in clear view of sky and wait

    If your GPS does not lock on, try the *228 Option 1 reprogram then restart phone. Immediately run GPS status and see what happens.

    You GPS is faulty if you can't see any satellites in view on GPS Status. What's most often the case, is you may see anywhere from 4 to 10 sats in view, but no fix.

    BTW, go to Settings, About Phone, Status and tell us what your PRL version is. Mine is 51731 just for reference. Yours may vary.
  7. Erich_F
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    Erich_F New Member

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    That may be, but check the date. This was the procedure that worked for me at the time, after about half dozen resets using different orders of operation.

    The PRL fix came out almost a month after I wrote this procedure, but doing my procedure in the end performs the same functions as the more simple PRL reset. I would imaging that in most cases the SD card reformat would not be required.
  8. rjwheele
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    rjwheele New Member

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    A simple technique that has worked for me

    This has been a real pain in the butt because it happens when you really need it... when you are driving. The technique below is relatively simple and has worked for me every time:

    1) Leave Settings>Location & security>Use wireless networks "checked". When started cold GPS has no idea where in the world you are and must do a lot of work to figure it out. I think this may give the GPS a location hint, which significantly reduces the time to lock in. (At any rate, see below. It seems to help.)

    2) Turn the power off and remove the battery. Just doing a "Power off" does not shut off all of the electronics. Removing the battery forces a complete power reset.

    3) Wait 30 seconds. (I have no idea how long it really takes but I wait this long.)

    4) Reinstall the battery and power up.

    After doing this Maps has always given me a route immediately. For my latest instance I tried looking at "GPS Status" and it DID NOT lock in immediately. It DID lock as soon as I turned "Use wireless networks" back on. I will have to wait until the next instance to test whether Maps locks in immediately with "Use wireless networks" checked.

    In a post somewhere else it was stated that "this is a known problem." I sure hope this is not a hardware problem but something the Android system can fix!
  9. droidomatic
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    droidomatic New Member

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    If just rebooting didn't work, try this

    After weeks of heavy GPS/Nav use, I started getting the occasional "Searching for GPS..." forever message... usually upon first attempted use in the morning. Power off and back on was fixing it. Until today.

    I tried multiple reboots and battery disconnects, booting in the dock, out... killing apps... uninstalling apps... nothing helped.

    This thread popped up in a google search, and the one thing that caught my attention in the lengthy process listed by Erich_F above was the first step of reformatting the SD card. Because I've noticed in the last few weeks that during the reboot process on my Droid, the "Initializing SD Card" step has been taking longer and longer.

    I suspected some sort of file corruption on the SD card may be the root of all the problems, so here is what I did:

    1) Connect Droid to computer, and mount it as a drive to enable copying.
    2) Copy ALL files from the SD card to temp dir on computer
    - some files wouldn't copy due to read errors. In this case, they were in the "Android" directory, and they all looked like cache file, so I just skipped copying that entire directory.
    3) Unmount/Reformat the SD card as described by Erich_F.
    4) Reboot

    At this point, I went outside and tried the GPS/Nav... and it hooked up immediately and started shouting directions at me!

    Reconnected/remounted and copied files back to SD card (the "Android" directory that I skipped was automatically recreated already, as was "LOST.DIR", so I didn't copy that one back).

    Nav is all back up and running, and the whole process took only a couple minutes, so it's definitely worth trying if you are hit by this problem.

    Good luck!
  10. maildanrich
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    maildanrich New Member

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    This worked Great for me. THANKS!
  11. rjwheele
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    rjwheele New Member

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    I have found another possible fix that is quicker and has worked the two times I have had need for it.

    In preparation for the dreaded eternal "Searching for GPS..." event, install the "GPS Status" application from Android Market. (Gratuitous plug: I found it so useful and well done that I made a contribution.) It provides a bunch of useful non-navigation GPS and other function including:

    • GPS receiver control functions (needed for this purpose)
    • a graph of GPS satellites in view and their respective signal strengths.
    • complete GPS location, altitude and speed
    • magnetic and GPS (if currently locked-in) compass information
    • the orientation of the phone similar to a spirit level
    • battery power level
    • ambient light level
    When your GPS fails to lock-in and gives you the:

    1. Open the GPS Status application.
    2. Press the Menu button, Tools and "Manage A-GPS state".
    3. Select the "Reset" button to clear the current GPS data.
    4. Once again, press the Menu button, Tools and "Manage A-GPS state".
    5. Select the "Download" button to get a new copy of the GPS assistance data (apparently provides clues to the GPS about where you are located.)
    At this point my GPS has, almost immediately, locked in and provided a route routing. I do not know if both "Reset" and "Download" are necessary but it is very quick to do both.

    It seems to me that all of the suggested fixes above have the common effect of forcing a complete reset of the GPS system.

    Good luck!
  12. Wefler
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    Wefler New Member

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    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN - Broad Ripple
    Another fix that may help:

    I went into my Location and Security settings and turned off "Enable Assisted GPS" while driving home my GPS started working again with the turn by turn directions.

    Give this a try and let me know if it works for you.

    dwefler@g mail . com @@
  13. ksanger35
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    ksanger35 New Member

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    Battery out, checked use wireless networks worked for me.

    I have a Motorola Droid running Android 2.2.2. GPS hasn't worked for a while. This technique did it for me. GPS Test shows 8 or more satellites in Rochester NY with an accuracy of 40-80 ft. Though without GPS working and only wireless I was getting 40 ft! Didn't want to cancel tasks or perform a factory reset. Now if I could keep use wireless unchecked and still use my GPS I'ld be happy. My experience relying on the phone while on the road is horrible. Absolutely horrible. Between GPS not working, and requiring Data Roaming to constantly load maps, and GPS failing to sync I can no longer rely on the Droid for GPS. Especially if I need to stop, remove the battery, and reboot the phone. Totally bogus. Isn't this 2011? not 1980.

    Thank you for this post. It works. Don't know for how long though...

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