Google fixes Android 14's storage bug, but your data may be lost forever

Alfonso Maruccia

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In context: Just like Microsoft and other major software companies, Google releases security patches and bug fixes for Android every second Tuesday of the month. November 2023 marks the first "Patch Tuesday" for Android 14, addressing a storage bug that users have been experiencing in recent weeks.

Google recently released its latest security bulletin for the Android operating system. The November 2023 patch primarily focuses on security vulnerabilities, as is customary, but it also includes additional fixes for recently discovered bugs in the mobile OS. The most significant improvement brought by the November bulletin should finally address an unusual "storage bug" discovered in October.

The bug surfaced on Pixel devices with the "multiple user profiles" feature enabled, following the installation of Android 14. Some users experienced difficulties in accessing the smartphone's storage through normal means, encountering various "out of storage" errors and other issues related to basic storage operations. In the worst-case scenario, the device would become essentially unusable, entering an endless reboot loop.

Initially, Google assessed the bug's true impact rather leniently, with Android programmers assigning it a medium priority as the number of user reports (and complaints) continued to grow. However, the corporation was later compelled to take the issue more seriously, escalating its priority level to "P0" and initiating work on a solution.

Aside from fixing one "critical" and several "high" security bugs in currently supported Android releases (from 11 to 14), the November 2023 bulletin includes non-security bug fixes and improvements. The Google Pixel update bulletin lists the fixes available for Pixel devices, including a specific remedy for an issue that was "occasionally" causing devices with multiple users enabled to "show out of space or be in a reboot loop."

Pixel owners have reported that the update is indeed fixing the storage bug they have experienced, but a full rollout of the update will take time. Google's delayed response to the bug, which many users compared to an actual ransomware attack, has understandably left Android users frustrated.

The situation is even worse for "bootloopers," as their devices remain stuck in an endless cycle of reboots with no quick fix in sight. Android's latest security bulletin cannot be installed on a constantly rebooting operating system, which means that those experiencing bootloop issues would likely have no recourse short of a full factory reset.

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