How to Recover Files from SD Card on Android: Must Read

How to recover files from SD card on Android phones? Find ways here and you can get the most full guide.

Kathy by Kathy Updated June 5, 2024
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As an Android user, you probably use an SD card to expand your phone’s storage for photos, videos, and other files. However, accidents happen, and you might accidentally delete some of these files, or they could go missing for other reasons. Fortunately, you can often recover these deleted files by acting quickly and following proper data recovery practices. The steps below explain the process in an easy-to-understand way.

recover data from sd card on android phone

Why you can recover deleted files on Android?

When you delete files on your Android phone, they’re not actually erased. Instead, Android marks the space they occupied as empty, ready to be overwritten by new data. Until new data is written over the old files, they still exist on the device, just not visible to the system.

enlightened Steps to increase your chances of recovery

Step 1. Stop using your phone immediately to prevent new data from overwriting the deleted files.

Step 2. Avoid installing new apps, taking new photos, or downloading files.

Step 3. Enable airplane mode to prevent automatic downloads of images and emails.

Step 4. Turn off your phone if you can, to ensure that no data is written over the deleted files.

Where to look first for lost Android files?

Once you’ve stopped using your phone and ensured it’s not writing new data to your SD card, there are a few places to check before resorting to more advanced data recovery methods.

Method 1. Check the App-Specific trash folder

While Android doesn’t have a native Recycle Bin, many third-party file explorers and photo apps do. Your first step should be to look in these app-specific trash folders to see if your files are there. For example, in the Google Photos app:

Step 1. Open the Google Photos app.

google trash folder

Step 2. Tap on Library.

Step 3. Tap on Bin to see recently deleted photos and videos.

Step 4. Long-tap on a photo or video to select it. Select all the files you want to restore and tap Restore.

The process is similar for other apps: locate the Recycle Bin/Trash/Bin folder, select the files, and restore them. Note that not all apps keep deleted files for the same duration as Google Photos, which retains them for 60 days.

Method 2. Check for lost files in Messengers

It might be a long shot, but you can check messaging services like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or WhatsApp for missing files, especially if you sent or received the files through these apps. For example, on WhatsApp:

Step 1. Open WhatsApp.

Step 2. Open the chat where you sent or received the file.

find lost files in messager

Step 3. Tap on the contact name at the top.

Step 4. Tap on Media, Links, and Docs to see all files sent or received in the chat.

Step 5. Download the needed files.

If your files were lost due to a virus attack, turn off your device immediately and skip to using a data recovery tool. The same applies if your device has failed or you cannot turn it on due to damage.

How to Recover Data from an Android SD Card

If you need an alternative data recovery method, third-party tools might be the solution. There are several data recovery tools available, some of which can be downloaded directly from the Google Play Store.

Method 1. Recover deleted files by connecting the SD card directly

Disk Drill is a data recovery tool that can scan SD cards and other storage types, search for lost or deleted files, and save them to your computer. You can then transfer these files back to your phone or keep them on your computer.

To use Disk Drill, follow these steps:

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill on your computer.

Step 2. Connect the SD card to your PC using a quality adapter.

Step 3. Open Disk Drill, select the SD card, and click on Search for lost data to start the scan.

Step 4. Once the scan is complete, click on Review found items. You can filter the results by file type (Pictures, Video, Documents, Archives, and Other) if desired.

Step 5. Expand the Deleted or lost and Reconstructed sections to see the recoverable files.

Step 6. Select the files you want to recover. You can preview any file by clicking the eye icon next to its filename. Click on Recover.

recover flash disk

Step 7. Choose a recovery destination for the files and click Next. Avoid recovering files directly to the SD card unless you’re sure you don’t need to recover more files and the SD card is in good condition.

Step 8. Disk Drill will recover the selected files.

enlightened Note: You can use Disk Drill to recover data from your SD card while it’s still in your smartphone, but this requires rooting your device. To avoid overwriting deleted files, it's recommended to connect the SD card directly to your PC. Disk Drill works on both macOS and Windows.

Method 2. Recover data by connecting the smartphone to your PC

If you don't have a micro SD card adapter or prefer to connect your smartphone directly to your PC, Tenorshare UltData is a suitable option. This method is especially useful for recovering deleted photos and WhatsApp data like pictures, videos, chats, and documents. Unlike Disk Drill, you don't need to root your phone for UltData, but its functionality is somewhat limited.

enlightened Note: UltData installs an app on your Android device, which might overwrite the files you want to recover. The app also requires several permissions, which can pose security risks.

To use UltData, follow these steps:

Step 1. Download and install UltData on your PC.

Step 2. Connect your smartphone to the PC using a USB cable and enable USB debugging on your phone.

Step 3. Launch UltData on your computer and select Recover lost data.

Step 4. Choose the file types you want to recover and click Start.

Step 5. Wait for UltData to scan your smartphone.

Step 6. Select the files you want to recover and click Recover to PC.

recover data on sd card

By following these methods, you can effectively recover lost data from your Android SD card.


From the passage, you can know where to look first for lost Android files and how to recover files from SD card on Android phones. If this guide helps you a lot, you can share it with more people.

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