Samsung Copy & Paste Bug (AKA Never Trust Samsung)

Sounds crazy, doesn't it? If you copy and paste text more than 20 times, your phone will restart! Some people have reported more severe crashes than that - but for me it is only (!) a soft restart. This affects the Galaxy Note II, as well as the SIII and Note tablet. Other Samsung products may also be broken in this manner.

This has been reported to Samsung multiple times. Ever since Konrad Krakowiak, a Samsung Developer, acknowledged this bug on October 29th last year, the official message has been the same.

This bug was reported and I think that it will be resolved soon.

Typical Samsung. Sloppy engineering followed by complete indifference towards their customers.

How Does This Bug Occur

As part of Samsung's desire to "improve" Android, they've created a "Clipboard History" function.
Samsung Clipboard History
It's pretty nifty. It shows you the last 20 items you copied - be they text or images. The only downside is that it only works if you're using the default Samsung Keyboard. (For iOS users - keyboards on Android are apps. You can swap them out if you want a better or different keyboard).

If you don't use the Samsung Keyboard, items are still copied onto their clipboard - but you're unable to access them.

Once you have copied around 20 items, the phone throws this error:

java.lang.NullPointerException at android.content.ClipboardManager.setPrimaryClip(ClipboardManager.java:146)

And then restarts. See this video:

Work Around

There is a permanent fix. If you change the permissions on the /data/clipboard folder to read only, this bug cannot occur again. Do note - this will prevent you from copying anything.

A less drastic solution is this:

  1. Root your phone.
  2. Use a file manager to visit /data/clipboard
  3. The folder should have lots of folders in it.
    data clipboard folder
  4. Select all the folders and delete them.
    delete clipboard
  5. Repeat every time you've copied around 15 - 19 items.

It's a manual and cludgy process - but it will stop the reboots.

Screw You Samsung

You'd wonder how many times I'd keep getting burned by Samsung's atrocious attitude to its customers, wouldn't you? After they screwed me over with the original Samsung Galaxy S ("Oh yes, it will get an upgrade. Oh, no it won't; it's impossible. Oh, look, CyanogenMod have made it work.") I should have known better. They then pulled the exact same stunt with the Galaxy S II!

Then I found out that Samsung's engineering team are so poor, they let anyone spy on what your printer does!

I remember almost the very first thing the Note II did when I turned it on was crash!
Samsung CloudAgent Crash

I love the Note II's screen size - and the fact that it's one of the few Android phones to support BlueTooth AVRCP 1.3. But it's clear that Samsung couldn't give a damn about its customers. Once you've purchased one of their phones they seem to think that if they treat you like shit, you'll happily buy the next model.

You're biased because...

I work for Telefonica - but this blog is personal and does not represent the views of Telefonica, O2, or anyone other than me. O2 sold me the Note II (and sell many other fine phones).

And to stave off the inevitable...

You must be an Apple fanboi

Nope.

You must be a BlackBerry fanboi

Nope.

You must be a Windows 7 fanboi

Nope.

You must be a Sony fanboi

Nope.

You must be a Symbian fanboi

Nope.

You must be a...

Oh give it a rest! I'm an equal opportunity curmudgeon. I like Linux and generally favour Android, but I get pissed off at anyone who produces a shitty product and doesn't stand behind it.

Samsung - either up your game, or get off the pitch.


35 Responses to “Samsung Copy & Paste Bug (AKA Never Trust Samsung)”

  1. Jestar Image of Jestar

    "Never use samsung again!" because of a copy/paste bug that only occurs on the 20th use of the clipboard?

    I wonder why you felt it necessary to pre-empt the "You're a..." comments.

    Reply
    • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

      Thank you for leaving such a well reasoned and enlightened comment. The bug is bad enough (I use my phone a lot and having it restart every few days is annoying) - but what really chafes my nipples is that Samsung are refusing to fix the bug in a timely manner.

      I pre-empted the "fanboi" comments because - from previous experience - if you don't declare it up front, idiots leave comments like "how much did Apple pay you to lie about this?"

      Reply
    • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

      Software has bugs - it's how a company reacts to those bugs which angers me. I can accept a manufacturing defect on my car - I can't accept a company lying about fixing it. Do you see the difference?

      Reply
  2. PY Image of PY

    Isn't the remaining commenters work for Samsung? The article stared clearly it is a problem of bad mentality of Samsung than anything else.

    From a developer point of view, it also suggested very bad project management. If I am not wrong, the code itself has specified and array of 20 slots, when it reaches the 21 clipboard, it cannot find the slot 21 in the array and caused the NullPointerException. This is like an assignment for college year 1 student. This can be avoided by adding a few lines of code. If these can get be checked into the repository and release to the public, meaning there's no proper testing and QA before shipping their product.

    Reply
  3. Dave Image of Dave

    Thanks for the work in exposing this bug. Not many people care enough to bother anymore.

    Don't be too angry with Samsung. I have an S3 with CM10.1 on it, and I have to reboot every 24 hours or so. After a solid day, the phone's home key will act like I'm doing a long press when in reality I'm doing a short press to go to my home screen. I haven't bothered to report it, as out of the last 10 bug reports I've filed, 6 were blown off and the other 4 were just flat out ignored.

    Reply
      • Dave Image of Dave

        I should have been more clear. I reported the bugs to the CM team. Seems like Samsung has infected them too.

        Reply
    • xaml Image of xaml

      "Not many people care enough to bother anymore."

      Whether this is caring and if so, on which level, is up for debate. That aside, the bug virtually needed no exposure, not of a biased kind anyway, it was brought up months ago on XDA.

      Reply
    • Peter Image of Peter

      Yes I've been trying to get a round this for some time my problem is that i can't root the note or small thanks for bringing this to us in simple English

      Reply
  4. eridalrtin Image of eridalrtin

    I really like what Samsung did on top of Android, but I cannot understand why they remove Android features without asking to the user first!
    They are slowly forcing us to root the device

    Reply
  5. Lin L Image of Lin L

    I am unsure whether this is fully tested, but I tested copy & paste 30+ times, the phone stays solid. The clip borad holds the last 20 items. Before this type of post, please specify what device/version you are facing the issue, not saying "Samsung has bug...". Maybe that's your own problem.

    BTW I am same to your "Nope Nope..."

    My device:
    SGH-999
    Android 4.1.1
    baseband version T999UVDLJA
    kernel version 3.0.31-370274

    Reply
    • Bunnios Image of Bunnios

      Thanks for reminding me to make sure that my next phone is designed and manufactured by a former Soviet-bloc country. Oh, wait...

      Reply
  6. denis Image of denis

    Hi, just to let you know that I couldn't reproduce this bug on my intl s3 (stock (touchwizy) 4.1.2, JZO54K.I9300XXELL4). Went up to 42 copies before I just gave up. Strangely I noted only 23 folders on my /data/clipboard but didn't need to empty it.

    Reply
  7. Mozz Image of Mozz

    Im having this same problem on my S2 since i upgraded to 4.0.4 and im sick of it. So do what i do and start posting comments in thier youtube channel for everyone to see, if everyone does it, it will be flooded with comments like mine:

    Hi Samsung, when are you going to fix the Copy Paste CRASH ISSUE???? You say that only a few people are effected but you know this isnt true, when are you going to stop lying and fix the problem? You said there would be an OTA update but none have arrived. Once again, when will you STOP lying and fix the problem so we can all use our devices properly?

    Thumbs up if you have this problem and want Samsung to stop lying and fix the issue?

    If everyone starts doing it, they will fix it.

    Reply
    • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

      I doubt that will work. Samsung simply don't care about customers. I suggest you return your device as defective. That's what I plan to do once I've found a suitable replacement.

      Reply
  8. BVG Image of BVG

    I am running unrooted Android 4.1.2 XXELLA firmware. Personally I have not encountered this issue on my SGS3... Yet....

    In any case, on looking for the data/clipboard, I could not find it. Is this a folder that I will see only if I root the phone?

    Also in the keyboard on opening the clipboard icon, I have an option to delete the contents. Will clearing the clipboard in this manner suffice to stop this bug?

    Reply
  9. Momo Image of Momo

    You should definitely shut up if your SGS3 doesn't have any issues. You'll appreciate this blog if your SGS3 reboots on you all the time. I'm posting this comment from my SGS3 and let me tell you, tonight alone this stupid phone rebooted on me 4 times due to copy/paste. The last reboot happened while I was trying to post this very comment. Also, a lot of SGS3 users(including me) have had Wi-Fi issues for a while and it is all over the net but Samsung still can't fix it or tell us if it's an Android problem. I have other problems with this phone but I can't list them all. No smartphone/software is perfect but the manufacturers should be ready to stand by there products and provide assistance/fixes promptly. I'm disappointed in Samsung.

    Reply
  10. PacoBell Image of PacoBell

    If you perform the permanent fix by revoking write access to the clipboard directory, is there a third-party clipboard manager alternative that'll work as a drop-in replacement for the Samsung one? That'd definitely be the ideal workaround until Sammy gets off their lazy arses and does something about this (which still affects Android 4.1.2 devices).

    Reply
  11. Tom Image of Tom

    Thank you! I feel the exact same way, sure all software has bugs and problems at some point, but it was Samsung that said TouchWiz would "enhance" their products, yet copy and paste a fundamental core function of any operating system, especially on a tablet is flawed because of their TouchWiz system and not the android os. I discovered with HTC that hardware companies don't care about supporting the software they shove on their products, that's why I now only buy products running stock android with updates directly from Google. I was too naive when I bought the Galaxy Tab 10.1, won't make the same mistake twice.

    Reply

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