[Q] Unlocking / Rooting Nexus 7 without having to Wipe it

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HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
Hello Everyone,

So I have had a Nexus 7 for about a few months now and I love it! I have done some research and I am getting mixed answers.
My question is: Is it possible to Unlock a Nexus 7 without having to wipe the data.

Thanks so much in advance.
 

bftb0

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2010
2,594
1,040
@handy

If you were asking about this because you were contemplating rooting, please be advised about the importance of making full nandroid backups. Perversely, the rooting guides fail to mention how important this is... especially if you are averse to wiping the tablet.

The reason? If you are rooted and you wedge your O/S somehow with a "mod gone bad", the only means of rescue will be unlocking the boot loader (to be able to use the advanced capabilities of fastboot), which wipes the tablet.

The way to do this with a locked bootloader is to flash a custom recovery to the recovery partition (from a root shell command line) after you have rooted.

That way if something goes wrong with booting the regular OS, you have a custom recovery to fall back on - and hopefully you used it to create a Nandroid backup before modding your lightly rooted stock ROM.

good luck
 

ashik992

Senior Member
Nov 23, 2012
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ashik.me
I agree with @bftb0

Just make it clear, I't possible to root without wipping. But you are still locked. Not possible to Unlock without wipping yet. If your data and OS is important for you (not for me) you must keep a backup first. Don't rely on the words I'll be successfully rooted with my OS and data anything can go wrong at any moment.
 
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HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
I just want to thank you all very very much!
I was successful using the method linked in the original post: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2233852

I have been researching for ways to root my Nexus 7 without having to unlock it since unlocking would mean losing all my data and the sole purpose of wanting to root my nexus 7 was to gain access to good backup programs and methods like titanium backup and full bit by bit NAND backups. Which I am still not sure I can use full bit by bit nand yet but hey this is a start in the right direction. And I didn't lose any data doing this. :D

Thanks so much and I will keep in touch with how it goes.
 

bftb0

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2010
2,594
1,040
I just want to thank you all very very much!
I was successful using the method linked in the original post: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2233852

I have been researching for ways to root my Nexus 7 without having to unlock it since unlocking would mean losing all my data and the sole purpose of wanting to root my nexus 7 was to gain access to good backup programs and methods like titanium backup and full bit by bit NAND backups. Which I am still not sure I can use full bit by bit nand yet but hey this is a start in the right direction. And I didn't lose any data doing this. :D

Thanks so much and I will keep in touch with how it goes.

Get started on installing a custom recovery (either CWM or TWRP) immediately so that you can make a Nandroid backup.

And then get a copy of that off the tablet for safe keeping.

Note (here I am reading between the lines of your post) that on the N7, Nandroid backups exclude /data/media !! - Basically, everything that you see in "/sdcard" is NOT BACKED UP by Nandroid.

You need a full Nandroid backup in the event of some kind of disaster (rooting experiment or mod gone wrong), but you also do need to backup stuff you feel is worth keeping from your /sdcard. You can use MTP for that if you want.

good luck and be careful.
 
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HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
Thanks for the backup tips! I was not aware that it won't backup sdcard directory.

Not to get off the thread topic because the whole purpose of rooting for me was to gain the best backup possible and being able to use USB flash drives now is nice too.
Anyway, I would like to know what you recommend for backup and how it works / how to use it. I would love to have something that works like acronis. I am really interested in making a bit by bit image that I can store on my desktop or flash drive that I can recover from.
I am researching on my own but I'd love to get input from you guys if you don't mind.


PS: Thanks again! You have been great help!
And now that I see the thanks button, everyone of you is getting a thanks!:good:
 
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HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
Forget my last question asking about backup. That would go in another thread anyway and besides I ventured into using TWRP that I installed using GooManager and its just awesome. Thanks again everyone and be well.
 

HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
Unfortunately TWRP does not backup everything! Luckily I didn't do a hard factory reset when I was testing it out so I didn't lose any data.

It seems to me that TWRP does not backup internal storage. On another note these android directory names and aliases are really making me crazy lol.

I would really like to be able to recover from a hard factory reset including all data on the nexus 7. Is there any way possible to do this with TWRP or anything else?

Thanks so much.
 

Pirateghost

Inactive Recognized Developer
Jul 24, 2010
11,698
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androidninjas.com
Unfortunately TWRP does not backup everything! Luckily I didn't do a hard factory reset when I was testing it out so I didn't lose any data.

It seems to me that TWRP does not backup internal storage. On another note these android directory names and aliases are really making me crazy lol.

I would really like to be able to recover from a hard factory reset including all data on the nexus 7. Is there any way possible to do this with TWRP or anything else?

Thanks so much.

so, if TWRP were to back up the internal storage, where would it store that backup? It wouldnt be able to store a backup of itself ON itself...

if you want a backup of the internal storage, just copy it to a usb thumb drive over OTG or to your computer, nandroids are not meant to back up 'sdcard' storage and never have been

want to recover from a complete loss of everything?
make TWRP backup
copy /sdcard contents to USB OTG or computer, your TWRP is on that directory so you would be copying EVERYTHING
 

HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
so, if TWRP were to back up the internal storage, where would it store that backup? It wouldnt be able to store a backup of itself ON itself...

if you want a backup of the internal storage, just copy it to a usb thumb drive over OTG or to your computer, nandroids are not meant to back up 'sdcard' storage and never have been

want to recover from a complete loss of everything?
make TWRP backup
copy /sdcard contents to USB OTG or computer, your TWRP is on that directory so you would be copying EVERYTHING


Thanks and sorry I didn't mention that I was backing up using TWRP to a usb flash drive all along. I am having trouble copying /sdcard now for 2 reasons:
1) Sometimes its called "Storage", sometimes its a directory within others, sometimes its called "internal".......I am just not sure what the actual directory is anymore.
2) I have tried copying as much as i could manually to my desktop via usb. but does windows see all that i need to copy and each time i select all and copy it, windows explorer lags and eventually crashes lol.
As of now I am trying to copy one fold at a time to windows. .....no I don't know what I am doing. Just getting frustrated so I am trying to copy it all on my own as well as useing TWRP lol
 

Pirateghost

Inactive Recognized Developer
Jul 24, 2010
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since MTP came about copying using windows explorer or any file browser, just plain sucks.

you have a couple of options here,
1. Use AIRDroid and copy it over your wifi
2. Use ADB and simply do 'adb pull /data/media C:\path\to\your\backup\folder

personally i prefer adb, i make regular backups of my phone and tablet and keep them on USB thumbdrive or sdcard on my laptop
 

HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
since MTP came about copying using windows explorer or any file browser, just plain sucks.

you have a couple of options here,
1. Use AIRDroid and copy it over your wifi
2. Use ADB and simply do 'adb pull /data/media C:\path\to\your\backup\folder

personally i prefer adb, i make regular backups of my phone and tablet and keep them on USB thumbdrive or sdcard on my laptop


Already tried Airdroid which was working great until about 20 minutes later when it just stopped. Guess its just too much for airdroid too.

Yeah MTP isnt great lol.

And thanks again, I will give the adb method a try.
 

HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
Already tried Airdroid which was working great until about 20 minutes later when it just stopped. Guess its just too much for airdroid too.

Yeah MTP isnt great lol.

And thanks again, I will give the adb method a try.



Oh, one more thing:
Am I correct in saying that all that Windows sees is the total internal storage? In other words every file that I can explore using Windows is what TWRP doesn't backup?
 

HandyAndyXDA

Senior Member
May 13, 2013
63
3
I got the adb command line tool. I have it running, but how do i direct it to the nexus? I mean there is no drive letter for the tablet.

Sorry to be a pest.
 

Pirateghost

Inactive Recognized Developer
Jul 24, 2010
11,698
8,703
androidninjas.com
Oh, one more thing:
Am I correct in saying that all that Windows sees is the total internal storage? In other words every file that I can explore using Windows is what TWRP doesn't backup?

Yeah. Pretty sure.





I got the adb command line tool. I have it running, but how do i direct it to the nexus? I mean there is no drive letter for the tablet.

Sorry to be a pest.

Look at the command that i posted. You don't use a drive letter.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus
 

bftb0

Senior Member
Feb 5, 2010
2,594
1,040
Oh, one more thing:
Am I correct in saying that all that Windows sees is the total internal storage? In other words every file that I can explore using Windows is what TWRP doesn't backup?

I have not been able to convince myself that the MTP implementation is deterministic, although in theory it is impossible for it not to be. (Translation: I don't trust it at all)

"adb pull" will work best when the remote shell automatically acquires root privileges, but that requires a modified boot image (the /default.prop file in the boot ramdisk) for rooted-stock ROMs, but this shouldn't be needed for "adb pull /sdcard/" - it is needed for pulling files from other areas of /data, or /system, etc though.

You previously mentioned "bit for bit", and that won't happen for adb or MTP as all timestamps, ownership, and file mode info will be lost when files are transferred to a Windows filesystem. The latter two are not particularly important for /sdcard, and I suppose that a lot of people won't care too much about timestamps either. You might feel differently though.

Actually attempting to do something closer to "bit-for-bit" brings it's own set of problems. You could use a (busybox version of) "tar" program in either the recovery or the OS, but you probably need to write the output to a mounted NTFS filesystem because of large-file ( > 2Gb) limitations of FAT filesystems. That's a non-starter with a stock kernel (for the regular OS, anyway) and it is my impression that TWRP's kernel isn't mounting NTFS in rw mode yet (I don't know about CWM)

To date when I've needed to wipe the tablet and restore it I've just used Nandroid backup/restore plus adb pull/push for /sdcard. (I wish adb was faster - it seems to be 3x-5x slower than MTP)

I suppose there are other alternatives (network mounting of CIFS shares using compatible kernels, etc) but I haven't tried them so far.

good luck
 

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  • 3
    No.

    The tablet can now be rooted without unlocking the boot loader, however.

    There is a third method for re-locking & unlocking without touching the data - but it requires at least one prior unlock which does destroy all data.
    2
    @handy

    If you were asking about this because you were contemplating rooting, please be advised about the importance of making full nandroid backups. Perversely, the rooting guides fail to mention how important this is... especially if you are averse to wiping the tablet.

    The reason? If you are rooted and you wedge your O/S somehow with a "mod gone bad", the only means of rescue will be unlocking the boot loader (to be able to use the advanced capabilities of fastboot), which wipes the tablet.

    The way to do this with a locked bootloader is to flash a custom recovery to the recovery partition (from a root shell command line) after you have rooted.

    That way if something goes wrong with booting the regular OS, you have a custom recovery to fall back on - and hopefully you used it to create a Nandroid backup before modding your lightly rooted stock ROM.

    good luck
    1
    I agree with @bftb0

    Just make it clear, I't possible to root without wipping. But you are still locked. Not possible to Unlock without wipping yet. If your data and OS is important for you (not for me) you must keep a backup first. Don't rely on the words I'll be successfully rooted with my OS and data anything can go wrong at any moment.
    1
    I just want to thank you all very very much!
    I was successful using the method linked in the original post: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2233852

    I have been researching for ways to root my Nexus 7 without having to unlock it since unlocking would mean losing all my data and the sole purpose of wanting to root my nexus 7 was to gain access to good backup programs and methods like titanium backup and full bit by bit NAND backups. Which I am still not sure I can use full bit by bit nand yet but hey this is a start in the right direction. And I didn't lose any data doing this. :D

    Thanks so much and I will keep in touch with how it goes.

    Get started on installing a custom recovery (either CWM or TWRP) immediately so that you can make a Nandroid backup.

    And then get a copy of that off the tablet for safe keeping.

    Note (here I am reading between the lines of your post) that on the N7, Nandroid backups exclude /data/media !! - Basically, everything that you see in "/sdcard" is NOT BACKED UP by Nandroid.

    You need a full Nandroid backup in the event of some kind of disaster (rooting experiment or mod gone wrong), but you also do need to backup stuff you feel is worth keeping from your /sdcard. You can use MTP for that if you want.

    good luck and be careful.
    1
    Thanks for the backup tips! I was not aware that it won't backup sdcard directory.

    Not to get off the thread topic because the whole purpose of rooting for me was to gain the best backup possible and being able to use USB flash drives now is nice too.
    Anyway, I would like to know what you recommend for backup and how it works / how to use it. I would love to have something that works like acronis. I am really interested in making a bit by bit image that I can store on my desktop or flash drive that I can recover from.
    I am researching on my own but I'd love to get input from you guys if you don't mind.


    PS: Thanks again! You have been great help!
    And now that I see the thanks button, everyone of you is getting a thanks!:good:
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