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Ask Dr. Root: Recovering Deleted or Missing Pictures

Dr. Root, My phone deleted all my pictures. What can I do?

I ran into this problem myself recently and thought that I was out of luck, but thanks to a wonderful themer WEBST3R, I was able to recover over 4,000 images that had been deleted off my SD card. Webst3r is the author of Sense X theme for the DX as well as a number of other very cool things related to Android which you can check out in our forums.  Him saving the day is an understatement.

Instructions after the break.   

First, we need to get some tools, so head over to Piriform and download the Recuva software.

(Don’t freak out about the price! The software is free and the support has the pricetag.)

1. Download and install the Recuva software.
2. Plug in your phone and set it to “USB Mass Storage” mode.
3. Open Recuva and cancel out of the wizard.
4. Pull down the first drop box and select your SD card.
5. Pull down the second drop box and choose “pictures”.
6. Go into the options menu and select “Tree mode.”

(This will give you the option to select the entire card.)

7. Hit “Scan” and allow Recuva to discover your files.
8. If you do not need the entire card use the thumbnail view or list view.
9. Click “Recover.”
10. It will ask where you want to recover to.

(My suggestion is create a folder on your computer and select that.)

11. Let it work its magic and start breathing again.

The software is not just for pictures either and will give you a list of different file types you can check depending on your needs.

Also before I go, please remember that flashing and theming your phone can be risky.Wiping data and cache when switching ROMs or when theming multiple items is a great way to ensure minimal conflicts on your device. Yes, I know it can be a pain to enter all of your information again, but between Google and the applications available to rooted users it has become pretty painless and a rather quick process.

STAY TUNED and be on the lookout for a very cool review coming soon to a device near you.

-Dr. Root (mrpicolas)

  • n0r

    damn android, deleted all my pics and videos! it scared me, but thanks to this ufff I recovered the important ones.
    Ive had more problems with android than with windows me….imagine that! ffs….

  • NCHokie

    Thanks for posting this! I had several work pictures not show up on the memory card or in the gallery. I had to use some of the advanced tools under the Options… of the software, but it did find the lost pictures and I was able restore them. Thanks to you for sharing tool and a huge thanks to the maker of the software!

  • G

    I’m not that computer savy and had some difficulty with some of the steps but praise the Lord I did it!

  • I also used another Android Photo Recovery program. It can also recover music and movies! Learn more here:   http://www.squidoo.com/recover-photos-android  Best wishes! 

  • Jesca_green

    I recently went to Venice, Italy and took TONS of photos. We had to reset my phone and I blue toothed them all to my husband before doing so. Without realizing I hadn’t blue toothed them back, he deleted nearly all of the photos.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TUTORIAL! I thought they were all lost, but this worked perfectly to recover them. ( I’m sure my hubby thanks you too!)

  • JoeyP

    THANK YOU!!!!! IT WORKED!!!!!

  • Jessicaeden79

    I just used this tonight and it worked and I can see my pictures!! I had some of my brand new nephew and I was heartbroken! So glad to have them back!!

  • Karla7777

    LifeSaver CSI S#@%!

  • Esavings

    Thank you for this program it saved my life.  I took very important work photos on my droid and deleted them by mistake.  I averted a disaster.  One of the best programs I have found in a while.  I was suprised it actually worked. BUT IT DID!!!!

  • Leanne

    THANK YOU.  Totally flipped when I “lost” all my pics last night.  Recuva found them and restored them all.  Droid “moved” them to a folder called “?” — I think this happened when I was attempting to download a photo, it seemed to go corrupt.  Then every time I opened my gallery,  more and more photos went to the “icon”, restarted my phone and then they were gone.    This worked!!  Thanks again!

  • sunshine

    Amazing. It took an entire 10 seconds to recovery my photos once I installed. I recovered them to “My Pictures” and had no problem viewing them. Thanks, Dr. Root!

  • Laceface626

    I recovered some deleted pictures, but I am not able view them on my computer or on my phone, why and how do i fix this?

  • Guest

    HTC Incredible – I went through and found this helpful but it did not find my pictures – so i started searching through the folders and it turns out that it somehow moved htem all from the SD Card to the phone’s physical storage and placed them in a new folder. 
    Go figure.  Just happy i found all my pics.

  • Rockymtnhi65

    Set my phone to USB mass storage mode, which doesn’t appear to do anything different. I have phone plugged in to computer…tried first drop down in the Recuva menu and don’t see anything that would indicate my SD card. I just see the C-drive and various D through K drives….but nothing that would indicate my SD card. I am panicking but am not going to lose hope yet—no one else is awake but I wanted to do this before I go to bed. I guess I have no choice but to wait for the morning and see if hubby can help me out

  • Dr. Tom Fooligans

    Got nothing I wanted! It appears to be the result of a theme over Rubix!

  • Handgunhunting

    Today I lose several pictures I really liked off my droid. I used this program and recovered then with no Issues.

    It also found a lot of other pictures that I deleated but where over written and could not be restored but they where not the ones I wanted anyway

    • Michelesanders

      what program did you use i just lost alot of pics. on my phone i was viewing them that bam,. lost everything just took alot of pics of my kids at the beach today really pissed this happened.

  • snowblind64

    Meh. How is this Droid or even Android related?

    Also get a better image for Dr. Root, that doctor is creepy looking. Looks like he might do something inappropriate during your prostate exam.

  • Italia1918

    my question is has anyone been able to view the recovered pics or videos? bc it seems like if everyone is saying they cant view them?

  • musicandnumbers

    OMG I love this.

    • ohshaith55

      silly musicandnumbers ;P

  • sylent101

    Mine just stays stuck on calculating time left am I doing something wrong?

  • Jasonwayne123

    So do you have to be rooted to use this?

  • dislike….it found 600+ files but put them in a format that i cant change or see…..any help

    • Irishcream

      had the same issue…. restores to JPEG but even Photoshop CS4 cannot open

  • Jboiangiu

    THANK YOU!!!! I tried 5 other programs that VERIZON suggested when all the pics and videos on my DINC disappeared, this recovered them all!!

  • AndroidsOfTara

    I've had great success recovering data with foremost under Linux. Even after reformatting.


    If you're using Ubuntu, you can just apt-get it.

  • Recuva is definitely a tool you want in your arsenal. I accidentally formatted the sdcard instead of the system partition once (I know, noob mistake, but I was a noob at the time), and this recovered most, If not all, of my data.

  • Lasse

    Don't expect to much from this software though. I ran a recovery on my F: (a partition on my internal hard drive) and it found >2000 pictures. Perfect, I thought, I choosed to recover them to C:. I got a message that 2XXX pictures were restored. However, none of them were viewable. I can understand this, but I can't understand how Recuva said files were restored correctly.

  • rex

    will this work on a macbook?

  • Bdmsgaiters

    it sucks hat you have to be rooted

    • mphunter995

      umm yea, you don't have to be rooted

      • Some people just can't read…it's not his fault.

  • Irishcream


    • CONGRATS!!! You win a DROID 5!!!

      • Muddy B00ts

        oooh man, I can't even begin to imagine how much that “does”.

  • Edgar

    So I wasn't alone! Thanks for this!