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Don’t update your Pixel phone — a new Android update might break it

Android 14 logo on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Android 14 introduced a host of convenient additions to Google’s Pixel phones, but a recent minor update has utterly broken the storage system for some users. Specifically, owners of the Google Pixel 6, Google Pixel 6 Pro, and Google Pixel 6a who run multiple profiles on their phones are reporting that their phones no longer have access to the storage pipeline for the main profile.

That means users are locked out of accessing the stored media and find themselves unable to add new files as well. A few users have reported on Reddit and Google’s official community forum that they can’t even click images using the camera app because it flashes an insufficient storage warning message. A few others say trying to install an APK package also returns a similar storage writing roadblock.

@madebygoogle @GoogleIndia
i still didn't get any solution of out of storage issue in pixel 6a after Android 14 update
iam unable to access any files and documents pictures in my pixel6a

— अजय द्विवेदी (@AjayDwivedi23) October 19, 2023

But that’s not the end of it. In some cases, the device enters the reboot flow and flashes a “Factory data reset” message on the screen. If it is accepted, all the data is lost if it has not already been backed up elsewhere. That’s terrifying since recovering data in such a case following a hard reset would be nearly impossible.

The storage hell unleashed by the faulty Android 14 update curiously blocks storage access only for the main user profile. Even with a healthy chunk of onboard storage vacant, the remaining portion is simply blocked for any kind of read or write activity. For a Pixel 6 series phone with a guest/secondary/or child profile active on it, the storage access is just fine for the non-primary profile.

Google Pixel 6a in hand.
Digital Trends

In response to the complaints posted by affected users on the public platforms, Google has finally acknowledged the issue and has assured that it is working on a solution. However, even with devices that are simply stuck on a boot loop chain, it seems full data recovery is going to be tricky. Google says it is “investigating methods that may be able to recover some data.”

For users that haven’t already updated their device, it goes without saying that they should refrain from installing it. Android updates on Pixels are delivered automatically, but they are only installed after the user restarts the device. If that’s the stage where you are at, well, keep your phone powered on.

Google says it has seeded a corrective update via the Play Store that prevents the storage problem from manifesting in the first place. Unfortunately, there’s no respite available to fix devices that have already lost the data or are stuck in a cycle where the phone constantly shuts down and restarts until the battery is drained.

An update is currently in development to fix the problem, but it hasn’t started rolling out yet. “We anticipate a system update will repair the issue and restore access to media files without requiring a factory reset,” says the official Google community post. We will update this post as soon as a software fix arrives.

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Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
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