Are you stuck in download mode? “Downloading..Do not turn off target!!” is an error message that appears mainly on Samsung and some Nexus devices. Most users report that their device unexpectedly rebooted into a black screen with the caption “Downloading…Do not turn off target”.
At a first glance, it might look like the message will be gone after the phone downloads some files, but most of the time that’s not the case. Usually, it’s a sign that your device’s firmware has been tampered with, but that’s not the only cause.
This error message only occurs in Download Mode. Download Mode is part of Samsung’s exclusive way of flashing (Odin), but it’s also used on some Nexus models. For the most part, it serves rooting purposes or is used for restoring a device to the stock version. If you have a rooted device with a custom ROM, you might encounter it on other brands.
There are several ways that will lead you to this error message. By far the biggest occurrence I’ve seen is users wanting to get into Recovery Mode and mixing the button combination. On most Nexus and Samsung devices, the button combination for the Recovery Mode is Power button + Home button + Volume Up button. If you mix the Volume Up button with Volume Down, instead of entering Recovery Mode, you’ll be taken to the Download Mode which will display the “Downloading…Do not turn off target”. If you got into Download Mode with the wrong key combination the fix is very simple, read below.
Another common cause that will cause this message is a software glitch. But it usually goes away without too much trouble.
A more serious way to get into Download Mode is to mess up your device’s sensitive files so badly that it can’t successfully boot up anymore. If the internal partition has become corrupted or some data in the EFS folder is missing, your device is programmed to boot straight into the error message we’ve talked about above.
Now that we know the causes, let’s get to the fixing part. Go through the following methods in order until you find a fix that will make the error go away.
Method 1: Exiting Download mode (Samsung Only)
If you entered Download Mode by mistake, the fix couldn’t be easier. This is confirmed to work on Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy S6 and Samsung Galaxy S7. Unless your smartphone has more serious problems, the following method will make the error message go away:
- Make sure you’re on the screen with “Downloading… Do not turn off target“.
- Simultaneously press and hold Power button + Home button + Volume Down button. It’s important to press them at the same time.
- Keep them pressed until the screen goes black, then release all buttons.
- If your device doesn’t automatically reboot, press the power button yourself.
If your phone is still unable to boot up, move over to Method 2.
Method 2: Forcing a Clean Restart
If you’re having this issue on a Nexus, or the first method didn’t make your Samsung device boot up normally, let’s try forcing a restart and drain the capacitors before attempting to boot up again.
- Hold the power button until your device is turned off. If it doesn’t respond, move to step two.
- Take out the back case and remove the battery.
Note: If you have a Galaxy S6 or another device with a non-removable battery, press and hold the Power button for 15-20 seconds to force a reboot. If that doesn’t work, press and hold Volume Down button + Power button for 10 -20 seconds. This will perform a “simulated battery disconnect” – it’s the equivalent of physically disconnecting the battery.
- Take out the SIM card and your SD card if you have any.
- With the battery removed, press and hold the power button for at least 20 seconds. This will discharge any left electricity from the capacitors and some internal components.
- Power up your device again and see if it boots up normally.
Method 3: Wiping the Cache partition
If the two methods above didn’t make the “Downloading… Do not turn off target” error go way, your phone might be suffering from a firmware glitch. These things are quite complicated to tackle, as the culprit can be anything from an OTA update to a bad re-flash.
If you this error started appearing after your phone received an OS update or you’ve recently re-flashed your stock ROM, deleting the wipe cache partition might get rid of some potential conflicts. Here’s what you need to do:
- Power off your device completely. If holding the power button doesn’t work, physically remove the battery or perform a simulated battery disconnect by holding Volume Down button + Power button until the screen shuts off.
- Press Volume Up key + Home button + Power button at the same time and hold them down.
- When your device vibrates and the Android system recovery screen appears, release all buttons.
- Use the Volume Down key to navigate downwards and highlight wipe cache partition.
- Press the Power button to select it and press it again to confirm.
- Wait until the process is complete.
- When the process is complete, use the volume keys to select Reboot system now and tap on the Power button to restart your device.
- If the device doesn’t boot up normally, move to the final method.
Method 4: Performing a Master Reset
If the methods above weren’t successful, there’s one more thing you can try before sending your device to a certified technician. A master reset will delete any of your personal data (photos, videos, music, contacts, app data) that isn’t present on your SD card.
Since performing a master reset isn’t guaranteed to make the “Downloading… Do not turn off target” error go away, we are going to protect against any data loss by booting up in Safe Mode and make a backup first.
Making a backup in Safe Mode
Aside from backing up important personal data, booting up in Safe Mode will tell us if the phone is still capable of booting up. If Safe Mode works just fine, it’s clear that we’re dealing with a firmware/software conflict and we should follow up with a master reset. Here’s what you need to do:
- Make sure your device is completely turned off. If your device isn’t responding when holding the Power button, take out the battery or perform a simulated battery disconnect.
- Press and hold the Power key to power your phone.
- Immediately after the initial screen appears, release the Power button and hold down the Volume Down key.
- Continue holding the Volume down until the device restarts and is starting to boot up.
- Whan you see the Safe Mode icon in the bottom left corner, release the Volume down key.
- If your phone successfully booted up in Safe Mode, go to Settings > Advanced Settings > Backup & reset and tap on Back up my data.
- Once the back up is complete, turn off your device.
Performing a Master Reset (Factory Reset)
Now that your personal data is safely tucked away, let’s revert to the default factory settings and see if the error will go away. Here’s how:
- Turn off your device completely.
- Press and hold Volume Up key + Home button + Power button at the same time.
- When the phone vibrates and you see the initial Android screen, release the Power button but continue holding the Volume Up key and the Home key.
- When you see the Android recovery menu, release both keys.
- Use the Volume down key to navigate downwards and highlight wipe data / factory reset.
- Press the Power button to select wipe data / factory reset and use the Volume Down key to highlight Yes – delete all user data.
- Hit the Power button to start the factory reset. Depending on your storage space and specs, it might take less or more than 15 minutes.
- When the process is complete, hit the Power button to restart the device.
If all the methods above have failed, it’s time to take your phone in for a repair. If you have a viable warranty, don’t hesitate to send it in. If you’re past the warranty period, taking it to a phone technician and asking for a re-flash should do the job.