Is there a way to backup a phone that won’t turn on?

Yes, there are a few ways to potentially backup or recover data from a phone that will not power on. The options available depend on the type of phone, the reason it is not powering on, and whether it was previously set up with a cloud backup service.

Quick Overview of Backup Options for a Phone That Won’t Turn On

Here is a quick overview of some potential backup options to try if your phone will not power on:

  • Connect to the cloud – If the phone was previously set up with a cloud backup service like iCloud or Google Photos, you may be able to recover data by signing into the cloud service on another device.
  • Extract data via USB – It may be possible to connect the phone to a computer via USB and extract some data, even if the phone screen is damaged or won’t turn on.
  • Remove the memory card – If the phone has an external memory card, remove it and connect it to a computer to access the files.
  • Use data recovery software – Specialized phone data recovery software may allow you to access data from a phone that won’t turn on by connecting it to a computer.
  • Take it to a repair shop – Cell phone repair experts may have specialized tools and techniques to potentially access and back up data from a phone that won’t power on.

The viability of these options depends on the make and model of phone, the specific issue preventing it from turning on, and whether it was already set up with a cloud backup service. Trying multiple options may be necessary to maximize the chances of recovering data.

Sign Into iCloud or Google Account On Another Device

If the non-functioning phone was an iPhone previously synced to iCloud, or an Android phone set up with Google Photos backup, you may be able to recover photos, contacts, and other data by signing into the associated cloud account on another device.

On an iPhone, open the Settings app, select your name/Apple ID, choose “iCloud”, and toggle on apps like Photos, Contacts, Calendars, and Notes to sync that data from iCloud. For an Android phone, install the Google Photos app on another Android device or iPhone, and sign-in to your Google account to retrieve your backed up photos and videos.

This cloud sync approach only works if the phone was previously set up by the user to backup data to the cloud. If no cloud backup exists, or the data needed is not included in the cloud backup, then another technique will be required.

Enable iCloud and Google Photos Backup

To avoid data loss in the future, it is highly recommended to enable regular cloud backups for your mobile devices. iCloud and Google Photos provide easy ways to do this:

  • iCloud – On an iPhone, enable iCloud backup in Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
  • Google Photos – On Android devices, install the Google Photos app and enable backup under Settings > Back up & sync.

Extract Data from Phone via USB

If cloud backup is not available, you may be able to recover data by connecting the phone directly to a computer via USB. This allows you to access the files stored on the internal memory or memory card as if the phone were an external disk drive.

Steps to extract data via USB:

  1. Connect the phone to a computer using the charging/data cable.
  2. On the computer, open File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac). The phone may show up as an external drive.
  3. Navigate to the drive and see if any data folders are accessible, such as DCIM (photos), Downloads, Documents, etc.
  4. Copy data from the phone drive to the computer.

This method relies on the phone turning on when connected via USB, even if the screen remains black. It may not work if the phone is completely unresponsive, but is worth a try.

Additional Points for USB Data Extraction

  • Try connecting the phone to a wall charger while also connected via USB, to ensure ample power delivery.
  • For iPhones, you may need to put the phone into Recovery mode – holding Power + Home buttons for 10 seconds.
  • Android phones sometimes have a USB debugging mode that can be enabled if the phone turns on.
  • Some data recovery software for computers allows extracting data from a connected, unresponsive phone.

Remove and Connect Memory Card

If the mobile phone has a removable memory card where photos, videos, and other files are stored, removing the memory card to connect to a computer is another option.

Steps for memory card data recovery:

  1. Locate the slot for the memory card, often in the side or bottom edge of the phone.
  2. Carefully eject and remove the memory card from the phone.
  3. Use a memory card reader or adapter to connect the card to a computer.
  4. Access the files on the memory card directly through the computer.

This allows you to access data stored on the memory card without relying on the phone itself being functional. However, it only provides access to data stored on the external memory card.

Tips for Memory Card Data Recovery

  • Don’t attempt recovery on the memory card itself, only on a copy of the card.
  • Use the proper memory card reader or adapter for the card type.
  • If the files appear corrupted, try recovery software.
  • Replace damaged memory cards after recovering the data.

Use Specialized Phone Data Recovery Software

When a mobile phone is damaged, unresponsive, or won’t turn on, specialized phone data recovery software may allow extraction of data that would otherwise be inaccessible.

These tools work by connecting an unresponsive or damaged phone to a computer via USB and running advanced recovery processes to access and extract data from the internal memory or SD card.

Examples of phone data recovery software include:

Software Details
Dr. Fone Works for both iPhone and Android. Offers free trial.
PhoneRescue iPhone data recovery with free trial.
EaseUS MobiSaver Recovers iPhone and Android data.

These tools can bypass locked screens and recover data from phones even with broken screens or damaged hardware. For the best chance of success, it’s recommended to use a trusted data recovery service provider.

When to Use Phone Data Recovery Software

These are ideal to try when:

  • The phone won’t power on normally.
  • You cannot access data via cloud backups or USB connection.
  • The screen is cracked or display damaged.
  • You get error messages trying normal recovery methods.

Take Phone to Repair Shop for Data Recovery

As a last resort, cell phone repair specialists may have access to advanced tools, techniques and spare parts that give them the best chance of recovering data from a phone that won’t turn on.

Benefits of professional phone data recovery services:

  • Bypass screen locks and access phone data.
  • Repair hardware like screens to regain phone functionality.
  • Extract data using forensic tools.
  • Replace damaged components in order to power on device.

For water damaged devices, pros can sometimes fix the device temporarily with cleaning solutions to access the data before corrosion prevents powering on again. Just be prepared for relatively high costs for advanced data recovery services.

Choosing a Phone Repair Shop for Data Recovery

When choosing a phone repair shop for data recovery, look for:

  • Solid customer reviews and reputation.
  • Experience with your specific device type.
  • Clean room facilities to prevent further data loss.
  • Guaranteed results or no charge.
  • Reasonable, upfront pricing.


While a phone that won’t turn on can be extremely frustrating, there are several ways to potentially recover personal data from it before repairing or replacing the device.

If the phone was backed up to the cloud, enabling that sync on a working device can retrieve photos, contacts, messages and more. Connecting the phone by USB to a computer may allow data access if the phone responds. Otherwise, removing the memory card or using phone data recovery software provides additional options.

With some persistence across these methods, there is a good chance of recovering at least some important data from a phone that is not functioning. Just be sure to have regular cloud or external backups for all mobile devices going forward.