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Step by Step: Recover Lost or Deleted Android Data

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

recover android data

Have you ever accidentally deleted an important photo or video? Or worse, maybe all of your photos and videos. Don't worry, I've been there before. It's not fun having to delete data to free space up on your Android device only to realize you really needed that one selfie you took a year ago. But all is not lost! When we look at our Android devices, many don't understand the numerous ways we can recover lost data from our phone or tablet.

Lost a file on your Android device? Try these methods to get it back.

Accidentally deleting a file is frustrating. But all hope is not lost—Android data recovery may help you retrieve those lost files. There are many ways to do this, depending on the nature of your deleted files, how thoroughly you deleted them, and how lucky you are. Here are some of the best techniques for Android data recovery.

Stop using your phone and put it in Airplane mode

Before doing anything else, it's important to know that when you delete a file from an Android device, the data isn't really gone. Once deleted, Android marks the space where the information was stored as "empty". While it may not be visible, this means that the slots for storing new files have been marked as ready to write over. This is why it’s so important for you to stop using your phone and stop taking new photos or installing new apps. We highly recommend putting your phone in airplane mode.

Check your recycle bin

recover photos from android

It's possible that you didn't delete the file at all. Just like a computer, many Android apps have a recycle bin, which means that files aren't immediately removed. For example, the Gallery app that comes with Samsung phones has such a safety net (this can also explain why deleting photos isn't freeing up any space on your device).

Check cloud backup

recover deleted files from android

Google Photos also has a Trash folder that holds unneeded photos and videos for 60 days. It is backed up to Google Drive, meaning if you delete a photo on another app but not in Google Photos it may still be available there. If you still don’t see your photo or video here, check for it at photos.google.com/trash or by visiting photos.google.com, checking the “Trash” folder from the hamburger menu in the top left, or backing up specific folders on your device by opening Photos–>Settings–>Back up and sync–>Back up device folders.

How to retrieve WhatsApp photos

recover photos from android phone

If you accidentally deleted a WhatsApp photo, there are several steps you can take to try and get it back. First, check the backup built into WhatsApp itself. Go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backup. You should see some information telling you when the last backup was carried out. If it was recent, uninstall the app and reinstall it from the Play Store. This will then give you the option to restore your old chats and media. You’ll also see the option to backup photos to Google Drive, so try looking here too if that option is enabled. But what if you accidentally wrote over your last backup? Even then, there is still hope. That’s because WhatsApp will keep several backup files on your device telling it which photos to retrieve from the servers. Use your file browser of choice and head to WhatsApp–>Databases (or whatever directory path is appropriate for your device). Here, you will see several files with names like msgstore-2022-01-05.crypt12 . Find the most recent one and rename it to msgstore-1997.crypt12 (or whatever name you prefer).

Try Android data recovery apps

If neither of the first two steps worked, then you’ll need to start trying third-party solutions. Android data recovery apps can sometimes retrieve data that has been lost. It works by looking where data has been stored even when marked as deleted by Android.

Android data recovery services

If you’re desperate and have lots of money to burn, you can get your data back from these companies. They typically make their money by charging for their services based on how desperate you are and how much money you have to spend.

The Bottom Lines:

It’s never a guarantee that you will be able to retrieve any lost files from your Android phone or tablet. But with some luck, determination and the right tools, there is certainly a chance.


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