Pixel is stuck at "Pixel is starting"

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Master Melab

Senior Member
Jan 26, 2011
406
11
My bootloader-unlocked Google Pixel runs Android Pie and it uses file-based encryption. Both system partitions are unmodified.

In an effort to get TWRP to successfully decrypt my Pixel's encrypted data, I performed a combination of:
  • Renaming these files (i.e., appending .bak to their names):
    Code:
    /data/system/gatekeeper.password.key
    /data/system/gatekeeper.pattern.key
    /data/system/locksettings.db
    /data/system/locksettings.db-shm
    /data/system/locksettings.db-wal
  • Copying the files back to their original names.
  • Setting and removing a lock pattern/password/PIN.

Now, my Pixel does not move past the "Pixel is starting" page. I can access Settings, but I have no access to my applications and files. How do I fix this so that I can get it to move past "Pixel is starting"?
 

TENN3R

Senior Member
Dec 6, 2014
845
447
Trento
I once ran into this issue, it has something to do with fingerprint and encryption, somehow it unlocks but it won't decrypt.
The only solution I've found is to wipe the device. Since you can power on the device, I suggest you to backup what you can with adb or from twrp, and do an advanced wipe, with even "format data" enabled (warning: you lose also /sdcard files), then reflash the stock factory image from fastboot.
This should remove the corrupted lock files and set it up like new.
 

Master Melab

Senior Member
Jan 26, 2011
406
11
I once ran into this issue, it has something to do with fingerprint and encryption, somehow it unlocks but it won't decrypt.
The only solution I've found is to wipe the device. Since you can power on the device, I suggest you to backup what you can with adb or from twrp, and do an advanced wipe, with even "format data" enabled (warning: you lose also /sdcard files), then reflash the stock factory image from fastboot.
This should remove the corrupted lock files and set it up like new.

Hang on. Did you skim my post? I'm trying to get it to decrypt or, if the decryption is not the problem, just get past "Pixel is starting" and get to my things on it. Wiping it won't fix that!

Fingerprints are not used to decrypt the device.
 
Last edited:

Master Melab

Senior Member
Jan 26, 2011
406
11
I once ran into this issue, it has something to do with fingerprint and encryption, somehow it unlocks but it won't decrypt.
The only solution I've found is to wipe the device. Since you can power on the device, I suggest you to backup what you can with adb or from twrp, and do an advanced wipe, with even "format data" enabled (warning: you lose also /sdcard files), then reflash the stock factory image from fastboot.
This should remove the corrupted lock files and set it up like new.

Are you there?
 

Master Melab

Senior Member
Jan 26, 2011
406
11
I once ran into this issue, it has something to do with fingerprint and encryption, somehow it unlocks but it won't decrypt.
The only solution I've found is to wipe the device. Since you can power on the device, I suggest you to backup what you can with adb or from twrp, and do an advanced wipe, with even "format data" enabled (warning: you lose also /sdcard files), then reflash the stock factory image from fastboot.
This should remove the corrupted lock files and set it up like new.

Were you able to recover your data?
 

NZedPred

Senior Member
Mar 16, 2016
858
1,643
Wellington
Unfortunately I don't think there's a way you can do it. The issue the OP is facing is that the system is unable to decrypt your user data at all, regardless of whether or not you are in TWRP or Stock Android, Stock Recovery, etc.

Trying to read between the lines on the AOSP File-based encryption https://source.android.com/security/encryption, your data is always encrypted - regardless of whether or not you have some security set (pin, password, etc). It's just a matter of whether or not the pin etc is part of the metadata used in the decryption. When you altered the security files that stored the information, you lost the ability to decrypt (probably the files have additional information that is passed with your pin to unlock the encryption keys). Removal of the files needed to be done within the system by removing the security, not by removing the files whilst it is encrypted. (Sorry if this isn't exactly what happened, it's hard to tell the exact sequence of events from the OP, i.e. whether or not it was all done in system, and when reboots were done.)

I did something like this before, and got the same result. Sorry but you'll have to rely upon the latest Google backups you had...