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Wipe all data except virtual SD card

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Is there a way to wipe the Pro1 but leave the virtual SD card data intact? My old Galaxy Nexus was able to do that. It meant that it didn't format the data partition but simply emptied all folder except the one that held the virtual SD card contents. I'd like to do the same with my Pro1. There's no physical SD card inserted.

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I ended up having to copy all data to my computer via USB and doing a full wipe anyway.  Too bad this phone doesn't have some kind of 'soft wipe' option because it would've saved me a lot of time.

The phone didn't ring at all anymore when a call came in and outgoing calls often didn't go through either. Another issue was Signal messenger not being able to use Google's push service making the app fall back to a web socket connection which drained the battery. The wipe solved all these issues. I can now receive phone calls again and hopefully the battery will last longer. Having to charge more than once per day isn't ideal.

I'm still hoping for a soft wipe option. Being able to wipe all app and OS data after a firmware update without losing personal documents is a real time saver!

Edited by roland
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Short: I am afraid this is not easy to implement without sacrificing something else.

Long: As far as I know, there are two designs of virtual SD.

a. Virtual SD is on separate partitions. This works more like SD with all its advantages (USB mass storage, separate wipe) and disadvantages (separate space, FAT32).

b. Virtual SD is on the same partition as /data. (Technically, it is mounted as a separate FUSE filesystem because of permissions and case sensitivity, but all the content is stored under /data.) This solves some issues of the older design, most notably separate storage space. (Try to explain a non-tech person why they have no space for applications even if there is plenty of space for the photos and music…)

There are multiple things that happen during factory reset, but the most notable one is that it formats /data. Yes, it is the partition where you have stored all the downloaded apps, settings and also the contents of the virtual SD. While it is theoretically possible to keep a part of /data contents while formatting, it is probably just too much of work for too little benefit. And maybe you would not be happy with that feature, because it is inherently error-prone and you could hit some bugs that not much people care about.


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  • 3 weeks later...

My old Galaxy Nexus (and also my Moto Z Play now that I think about it) offers 2 choices when wiping the phone from recovery mode: format both cache and data partitions as you mentioned OR format cache and only delete all files and folders on the data partition except for the sdcard folder. Data in the virtual SD card folder was also on the data partition for reasons you already explained.

There's no need for a partial format, if that's at all technically possible. In GNU/Linux on my desktop I can easily write a command that deletes all files and folders with one folder as an exception. That really is a fairly straightforward file system operation.

This article describes the choice clearly for the Moto Z Play: https://www.droidviews.com/how-to-wipe-data-and-perform-factory-reset-on-moto-zmoto-z-force/

It just makes a lot of sense to have such an option. It saves a lot of time when only cache and app data need to be wiped. Something I believe is almost always the case.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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