How to Wipe Data On an Android Device With a Black Screen

The screen on Android devices is probably the most sensitive component. It’s very common for Android owners to end up stranded with a device that has a black and non-functional screen. What do you do though when all of your data is left on the device? If the device still powers on, there are very few options. Here are some things to try.

Note: If your device runs Android 4.0+, you can backup your device using the Android SDK to get data off your phone for use on another Android device.

Remove the SD card

The SD card has much of your personal data like music and photos. Some apps even use the SD card to store app data.


Connect the device to your computer

Some Android devices mount internal memory as a removable disk when you connect them to your PC. From there you can drag data over to your PC or delete it.


Wipe data using the Android SDK (root only with USB Debugging enabled)

If you have rooted your Android and happen to have enabled USB Debugging on the device before you lost the ability to use the screen, you’re in luck. You can simply install the Android SDK on your computer, then use an ADB command to wipe data.

From the platform tools folder, type:

adb shell

the press Enter.

Now from the ADB prompt, type:

wipe data

If you get a message that says “Done wiping /data”, you have wiped data from the device.

Android SDK wipe data command


Figure out the button sequence for a hard reset

When all of the above options either aren’t available or fail, you may want to figure out the exact button sequence for hard resetting your device. Each device’s hard reset sequence is different. If you can perhaps find a friend with the same device, or access a device at a local dealer, you can then perform the steps on the other device, then follow along on yours.

Another good option for learning the steps would be to visit YouTube and search for a video on how to factory reset or hard reset your specific model Android. You may then be able to follow along with the video on your own device. It’s difficult to do, but possible!


Replace the screen

Of course, there are many places that replace phone and tablet screens. People who are savvy enough may want to purchase a replacement screen from one of many websites that sell them and replace the screen themself. There is always a chance that may not work though, and it’s a very expensive way to find that out.


Physical damage

Last but not least, you can physically damage the device. Smash it into little bits. Some feel that there is no real way to be sure the device is damaged to the point where data is not recoverable. But who is going to bother messing with your smashed up device just to see some bit of useless information?


You’re in a tough spot. Nobody wants to risk leaving data on a device. I’m hoping one of the above steps helped you. If you came up with your own solution, please share it in the comments section below.

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