If you've ever deleted a photo album by mistake or had your smartphone accidentally wipe everything from your gallery, then you know that particular variety of ''bottomless pit in your guts'' feeling. Never fear, your lost photos are not really lost at all. We'll show you just how easy it is to recover photos on Android. There's only one thing to remember: act fast.
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How to recover lost photos on Android
First of all: turn off Wi-Fi and data connections on your phone. The reason to do this is that when data is deleted, whether photos, music or documents, it is not actually deleted until something has been written over it in the device's memory.
All that is initially deleted is the index that points to where the data starts in your memory, so as long as you can find that point again, you can get your deleted pictures back. If that new data gets written over the top of where your lost pictures are, they will be lost forever. A poorly-timed update can be disastrous.
Note: this process requires root privileges on your phone.
1. Download a free program called Dr.Fone for Android by Wondershare (available for Mac or PC) on to your computer. There are other programs available, but we've always had good results with Dr.Fone.
2. Install the program, launch it and register. You'll see the screen below.
3. Connect your smartphone to your computer with a USB cable.
You need to have USB debugging enabled on your smartphone for this process to work. If you don't, simply go to your Settings > About Phone and tap Build Number repeatedly until the notification appears, telling you that Developer Options have been enabled.
Back in your main Settings screen, you'll see Developer Options down near the bottom. Scroll through the settings until you see USB Debugging and check the box beside it. You'll see a notification at the bottom of the Dr.Fone screen saying that USB Debugging is being opened.
For devices running Android Lollipop, you will need to authorize the PC via the prompt that will appear on your phone.
4. Once Dr.Fone for Android has made the connection to your smartphone, you'll be able to select from the following categories of deleted files. We're only after photos, but if you've lost more than that you can tick as many categories as you like.
5. The next step asks you to scan for deleted files or all files. If you're after a quick recovery of your lost pictures to set your mind at rest, take the 'Deleted files' option. You'll need to accept the RSA key prompt on your smartphone (check 'Always accept' to make it easier), making the connection between the two devices secure and, of course, grant Superuser permission when prompted.
6. One this is done, Dr.Fone will analyze your phone and reboot it. If you receive a message on your PC to say your phone has connected again, ignore it; just let Dr.Fone do its thing. Any prompts on your phone that request permissions for Dr.Fone should be granted.
7. Once Dr.Fone has finished analyzing your phone you'll get the scan results screen where you can check the boxes for the photos (or other files, as you can see below, depending which file types you selected earlier) that you want to save, then hit Recover and you're golden.
8. If you've made it this far you've hopefully learned a valuable lesson and will make regular copies of your smartphone photos from now on. Don't worry, we have plenty of tutorials on the site for that too.
How to back up your photos on Android
Now that we've explained how to recover deleted photos on Android, the next step is to prevent this situation from happening again. To do this, we recommend using an app such as Google Photos. This offers unlimited photo storage (so long as the files aren't too large) and the backup function is easy to set up.
Once you've installed the app just go to its Settings, then Backup & sync, and you can choose how often – and by which method – you wish to backup your photos. For a complete guide on how to use Google photos, hit the link.Google Photos
Have you had any disastrous lost data accidents before? What did you do to recover deleted photos on Android? Tell us in the comments.