The stone the builders neglected has become the cornerstone. That’s how best I can summarize the DA file crisis we now face.
You’d probably not really noticed the Download-Agent section in your favorite Mediatek (MTK) flash tool but with the way things are going, its becoming a critical determinant of whether or not whatever you’re trying to do halts abruptly or proceeds.
What’s this Secure Boot and how does a DA file fit into the equation?
DA is an abbreviation of Download Agent. The DA is what enables whatever Mediatek tool you’re using read or write to the device in Flash Mode (powered off and sometimes holding volume buttons).
A Mediatek device which has Secure Boot won’t allow any tool read from or write to it without a custom DA file loaded to the tool. In other words, no backup, flash, FRP, IMEI write etc without a custom DA. A DA file is thus like a key and the Scatter file like a map.
The Secure Boot issue has been around for a while (my earliest encounters were with Tecno M3S & Acer B1-770; both Lollipop devices) and has increasingly been adopted in Mediatek devices. When trying to interact with a Secure Boot MTK smartphone without the required DA file, you might encounter errors like:
- Boot Error!
- S_FT_DOWNLOAD_FAIL (2004)
- S_SECURITY_SECURE_USB_DL_DA_RETURN_INVALID_TYPE (6104), MSP ERROR CODE : 0X00
- S_AUTH_HANDLE_IS_NOT_READY (5000)
- STATUS_SEC_AUTH_FILE_NEEDED (0xC0030012)
…and the list goes on. For such devices, you’ll need a DA file.
Important things to note when dealing with a Secure Boot MTK device
When handling a Secure Boot MTK device, these are some things you should have at the back of your mind:
- DA files are device-specific: Just because you got a DA file for one model doesn’t mean you have the answer for all Secure Boot devices (for now at least). Each model tends to require a specific DA file.
- One DA file can work on different devices: Its possible for multiple models of the same or different brands to use the same DA file. You’ll just have to test to find out.
- Do not format a Secure Boot MTK device: If you’re lucky enough to get a DA file for your model then the last thing you’ll want to do is Format. Once you do, the DA file that once worked will stop working, causing tools to request for an Authentication file.
- Some DA files are tool-specific: You might bump into a DA file for your model but it doesn’t work for you. There’s a good chance that the DA file is encrypted and will only work on a specific Mediatek tool / box. You’ll have to try it on as many tools as you have.
Where can I get a Secure Boot DA file for my device / model
Team Hovatek started a Mediatek (MTK) Secure Boot DA file collection. We’ll keep updating the list. Its a community effort so please don’t leave all the work to us. Send us any confirmed DA file not on our list and it could help someone.
How do I use the DA file after downloading it?
The idea is just to locate the Download Agent section in the tool and load your custom DA. If you have trouble loading it in other tools then drop a comment and I’ll be happy to guide you.
Aside from Secure Boot, there’s much Google Wizardry to talk about, like Dm Verity, -sign.img, -verified.img, encrypted boot.img, device’s rejecting modified images… but these are talk for another day.