Setting up a Kobo without logging in

My trusty Kobo Aura One recently died on me, and I replaced it with a Kobo Libra H2O, which…is honestly kind of a downgrade. I didn’t expect to like the physical buttons, but I’ve come around to them, and the screen is crisper, which makes reading small furigana easier, but the screen is also smaller and the storage size is pitiful (8gb compared to the 32gb I used to have, which is pretty important if you’re going to have a lot of manga on board). In any case…

The main thing I’ve been unhappy about with this new device is the fact that the database handling seems to be really flaky. I had my Aura for four years and never had a problem with it, but this new one has randomly corrupted its own database multiple times over the last few days. Since the only way to fix this is to reset the device and logging in is a hassle (especially since I don’t use any of the online features anyway), I wanted to figure out how to bypass the sign-in process entirely.

There are a few guides on the mobileread forums on how to set this up, but they’re all pretty old — the user database table was only five columns back then and it’s now at 27, which breaks the insert statements. Here’s an updated sqlite script that gets you into the device with minimal fuss:

insert into user
  (UserID, UserKey)
values
  ('-', '-')

The other steps are the same as ever:

  • Connect the ereader to your PC
  • Tap “Set up via USB” on the home screen
  • Download and run SqliteBrowser
  • Click “File/Open Database”, browse to your ereader, and select .kobo/KoboReader.sqlite
  • In the “Run SQL” tab, paste the above script and execute it by pressing F5 or clicking the play button
  • Click “File/Close Database” and save changes
  • Eject the ereader from your PC and disconnect it

You should be met with a fresh clean dashboard. One nice thing about this method is that the ereader never actually sees the internet, so it can’t download book suggestions. I recommend backing up the sqlite database after you set up your preferences (the calibre plugin Kobo Utilities can perform a backup automatically every time you connect the device, which is something I wish I had done much sooner).