SD card encrypted, cannot retrieve

Discussion in 'Droid RAZR' started by beyondreprieve, May 5, 2012.

  1. beyondreprieve
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    beyondreprieve New Member

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    So I was having a problem with my phone, and was instructed to do a factory reset. Well, I had forgotten I encrypted my SD card. Now I can't access a years worth of photos or videos on any device. Help!!! Any way I can undue this tragedy? I have the original phone for a bit longer, and Verizon was no help.
  2. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    If you don't know the encryption password you're basically stuck. I never used encryption so I am not familiar with how it works but encryption is designed to prevent unauthorized access as I'm sure you are aware, so what you needed to do is either remember the password or crack it.


    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk with speech to text translation. Please excuse any minor grammatical/punctuation/spelling errors.
  3. beyondreprieve
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    beyondreprieve New Member

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    I know the password, but I'm not being given the option to use it. Instead, my phone wants that I reformat it. We all know what that means... erased.
  4. SallyC
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    SallyC Well-Known Member

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    Like FoxKat, I don't use encryption so I'm not very knowledgeable about this. But I'm wondering if you can copy the encrypted data to your pc, format the card, then copy the data back on to it and see if it asks you for a password? Or try setting up Android SDK Emulator on your PC and see if you can get at it that way. If that fails, I would try contacting tech support for the card manufacturer and see if they have a tool.

    I'm sorry I don't really have any concrete ideas - just brainstorming.
  5. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    So what you're saying is that when you insert the card the phone immediately goes to the format option? Hmm. Lemme thin' 'bout dis wann.


    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk with speech to text translation. Please excuse any minor grammatical/punctuation/spelling errors.
  6. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    OK, first, have you setup a password or pin lock for your home screen? Apparently that's required before you encrypt a card.

    Make sure its the same one you used to unlock the previous phone since the encryption password is apparently generated by using your unlock password in combination with an algorithm.


    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk with speech to text translation. Please excuse any minor grammatical/punctuation/spelling errors.
  7. beyondreprieve
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    beyondreprieve New Member

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    SallyC... That is a fantastic and creative idea. I will try it. Tky!
  8. beyondreprieve
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    beyondreprieve New Member

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    FoxKat... It is the same password I used for my last phone's home screen lock. Perhaps the SD is set with a different one. I could figure it out, if only it would give me that option.
  9. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Not to disagree specifically with Sally, as she is almost always spot on, but I would be careful NOT to copy anything off that card and reformat it. We don't know what the encryption process is and whether it involves the format or other partition areas of the card. Anything you do to that card could result in permanent loss of the data on it.

    I am still reading and experimenting, and I'm trying to come up with a solution for you.
  10. SallyC
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    SallyC Well-Known Member

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    That sounds like a possibility FoxKat.

    beyondreprieve, if FoxKat is working on a solution, I'd hold off on formatting the card. Hopefully he'll come up with something and then we can call him FixKat! :biggrin:
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  11. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    I have made some headway. It seems that the ESN of the phone is used in the encryption algorithm, so once the card is moved to a new phone, even with the proper passwords you are stuck. I have Motorola on the line. They want to know what the ESN of the ORIGINAL phone is. If you don't have it, you can dial *611, explain the circumstances, and they will supply that to you. Also, if you have the original box, it's printed on a label.

    Get that to me ASAP!! :icon_eek:
  12. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Here's my conversation:


    [​IMG] Don: Hi, my name is Don. How may I help you?

    [​IMG] Phillip : Don, I have a user who had a Droid RAZR and had encrypted his SD Card. He has since had to have the phone replaced and removed the SD Card prior to returning the defective unit. Now when he inserts the encrypted SD Card into the new phone, it tells him to format it. Is there any way to, by using the same password(s) on the new phone that were used on the old, recover the data on that card. He's sick because it has all the photos he's taken of his baby since getting the phone.

    [​IMG] Don: I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but we can no longer retrieve the files off from the Sd card.

    [​IMG] Phillip : So you are saying that the encryption is specific to the ESN of the phone? In other words, unless it is first un-encrypted on the defective phone, the data is lost permanently? If so, this is terribly flawed. What happens if a phone completely fails and is unable to be awakened? You are saying that the data on that card is lost forever and because there's no way to un-encrypt since the phone is dead, that he's out of luck?

    [​IMG] Don: Phillip did the cust try to use an sd card reader and access the sd card from a PC?

    [​IMG] Phillip : No, but if the card is encrypted, or the files are encrypted themselves, what's the point? Either he'll have one massive file that is an encrypted representation of the entire contents of the card, or he'll have literally hundreds of individual encrypted files and in either case, no way to un-encrypt.

    [​IMG] Don: Media files are saved either on the internal phone storage or the SD card, since the sd card is corrupted we cannot retrieve the files any longer, same as with the internal phone storage once it will not awaken.

    [​IMG] Phillip : I don't see an encrypted SD Card as "corrupted" in the pure sense of the word, since the only "corruption" is the "encryption" that was performed by the original phone. If I want my data encrypted, and I know my password(s), I should be able to reinsert that card into an identical device, re-enter the password(s), and retrieve the data without incident. If that isn't an option, Motorola should develop an app for Windows which allows us (with proper password entry) to un-encrypt that data and retrieve it for situations just like this one. I understand that the INTERNAL card is gone, but we're talking about a REMOVABLE MicroSD, not an internal one. I find it completely unimaginable to believe that a corporation as massive and trend-setting as Motorola is, would design an encryption system that depends on the initial device which encrypted the REMOVABLE SD Card, to un-encrypt it. This leaves the data subject to complete loss if the initial device fails - and they do fail as I am sure you know.

    [​IMG]Don: May I have the phone's serial number?

    [​IMG] Phillip : I may be able to get that for you, but it will take some time. Is there a number I can reach you at, or do you wish to communicate via email? phil.*******@gmail.com I assume you want to see the ESN of the original phone, not the new one? If so, that would be obtained from Verizon. I can likely get that as well.

    [​IMG] Don: Yes, we do need the original phone's serial number.

    [​IMG] Phillip : GREAT! Give me time. Do you have an email address so we can pick this up again?

    [​IMG] Don: May I have your contact number?

    [​IMG] Phillip : 215-###-####

    [​IMG] Don: Thank you.

    [​IMG] Don: Phillip, in order to provide you with the best possible support for this type of question, we will need to ask you to call our call center directly. You will not have to repeat any troubleshooting steps that we have just done as I will be saving this entire conversation and all you will have to do is dial 800-734-5870 and say "Technical Support" or press 2. When prompted, please enter your 10 digit cell phone number that you provided me earlier in our chat. You will then be directly routed to one of our Level 2 Technical Support Specialists. Your reference number for this chat is ######-######. Our Level 2 agents are available M-F from 7am-10pm CST and on Sat. & Sun. from 8am-5pm CST.

    [​IMG] Phillip : Super. I do appreciate your listing to me and being compassionate about the situation. I am sure if you were in this poor guy's shoes you would be sick and confused as well. I am trying to support him the best I can and hopefully with your assistance and that of level 2, we'll get there. Thanks.


    Hopefully, with the L2 support and the ESN, we can get that card un-encrypted. I really think there should "an app for this". I will keep trying in the mean time. :biggrin:
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  13. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Sally, sorry - I didn't mean to soil your shoes, but I didn't want him to kill any chances of recovery until we're 100% sure there was no alternatives. Encryption can be a very good thing, even a matter of national security, but if encryption fails, so goes all the data you were trying to protect. In the OP's case, I am hoping he moved the media data from the internal SD card to the external one prior to sending in the phone, otherwise this is an effort in futility.

    I've read posts on other threads and other forums and there have been no successes that I can see, but I am not one to give up so easily.
  14. SallyC
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    SallyC Well-Known Member

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    Great work, FoxKat! I think the data was on the SD, not internal, memory. Although you may have had communication I don't know about because I don't know anything about baby photos.

    It's unbelievable to me that the encryption of the SD card is tied to the ESN of the phone - unless that's very clear when you do the encryption. Not having done it, I guess I can't say. But I would consider that a pretty critical piece of info! And it would also seem critical to have a way to access the data if the phone died without having to go through all you did with tech support. Who would have guessed?
    No worries about my shoes - I'm here to help, same as you. So whatever gets beyondreprieve access to his/her SD card is fantastic. As Malcolm X said, "I'm for truth, no matter who tells it." :icon_ lala:
  15. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Yeah, I think the data was on the SD-Ext too if the OP was aware that media data is normally saved on the internal SD.

    As for the baby photos, that was me "embellishing" and playing on his emotions to get him to go the extra mile for my pleas.
  16. beyondreprieve
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    beyondreprieve New Member

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    That makes sense FoxKat. I'll hold off for your advise. I really appreciate all of your help on this matter. I have the most precious photos and videos of my 4 yr old son. It's heartbreaking to potentially lose all of them. Some videos are original songs he composed which are irreplaceable. Being a single mom, he's my life, to say the least.

    Thank you all for your help and suggestions.
  17. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    I have a 9-year old boy and I know what you're feeling right now.

    I'll do everything humanly possible to help you retrieve those previous moments on time. Please take a moment during the day tomorrow to call *611 and see if the rep can pull down the ESN for the previous phone and get it and your current ESN to me on PM (private message). If there is any way to unlock those pics and videos, I'll find it.



    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk with speech to text translation. Please excuse any minor grammatical/punctuation/spelling errors.
  18. SallyC
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    SallyC Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, we have a 8 1/2 year old grandson who used to break out in spontaneous songs when he was 3-4. He'd usually do this while we were driving somewhere. They would detail exactly what he was thinking about or felt at the moment and were awesome. I have some on video (holding the camera over my shoulder, pointing back at his car seat!) that we still talk about! I'd hate to lose those.

    May the Force be with you, FoxKat!:icon_ banana:DancingNexusdancedroid
  19. Trash Can
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    Trash Can New Member

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    Two days ago, you could have said "May the 4th be with you." Sorry, saw that on FaceBook and thought it was pretty funny.

    Getting back on topic, there's got to be a better way for Moto to encrypt this stuff. I mean, it really works, but almost too well. Good luck!
  20. FoxKat
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    FoxKat DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    More potentially helpful information...

    1. Anything on the SD card prior to enabling SD encryption remains unencrypted.

    2. All items saved from the device to the card are encrypted, however, items transferred to the card via USB (device in storage mode and connected to a PC) are not encrypted.

    3. Turning SD card encryption off leaves encrypted information as is (still encrypted), but nothing is encrypted from that point forward. Device apps can still read the previously encrypted content.

    This is direct from a Motorola manifest.
    This means that the encryption process is deep-rooted in the phone's operating system since even when the encryption is later turned off, apps can still read the encrypted data. The fact that encrypted data is not actually unencrypted when encryption is turned off means we do need the phone to read that data no matter what (unless there is an app that can be run either on a phone or on a PC while running the phone clone.

    This means, if the card can be read by a USB or internal SD Card reader, you may be able to retrieve any of the data that was saved to the card prior to encryption. It also means that if we can get the card recognized by the phone, the files must be transferred via USB to the computer since they remain encrypted if they were encrypted originally.


    If you could describe to me exactly what you see when you insert the SD Card, it would be potentially very helpful.
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