As we become ever more reliant Android devices and iPhones for everything from family photos to important business communications, the threat of data loss becomes more real and far more devastating. What happens when you accidentally delete that important text or pic and how can you get it back?
Is data really lost?
“Not yet” is the best answer to this question. Though Android and iOS differ in many ways from desktop operating systems, the way they manage files is similar. Operating systems do not erase Photos, messages and documents from existence when you press “delete.” Rather, the OS marks those blocks of data as being “free” and deletes all references – called “pointers” – to them. The data is still there until the OS needs that space and then it is overwritten. This means that if you can implement data recovery quickly enough, those lost images or documents can be restored.
How can data be recovered?
Lost data is restored by investigating the unallocated space on the device. This can be performed by installing data recovery apps on the device itself or by manually inspecting the data on another computer. Manual inspection like this is done by mounting the phone on a PC or Mac so it is seen as another hard drive or by dumping a backup of all the phone’s files and opening that backup on the desktop. In some cases, such as physical damage to the device itself, the phone’s SD card or other internal storage could possibly be removed and mounted to a separate computer for investigation.
Do it yourself or go pro?
It’s tempting to try your own iPhone or Android device data recovery operation. After all, the Apple App Store and Google Play Store are teeming with recovery applications. Searching online unearths many more desktop programs that also promise quick and easy file recovery. The key problem with trying a random phone- or desktop-based application for data recovery is user inexperience. While these applications may market themselves as one click and you’re sorted, this is rarely the case when you try. Some applications require “rooting” the phone, which will void the warranty and may cause more problems and should not be attempted by a novice. Installing some apps may even overwrite the data you’re trying to reclaim. Hiring the services of a computer professional that has experience in the real data recovery process is your best bet for getting your data and your smartphone back safely.