A family member deleted every photo off my Samsung Galaxy III, does anyone know how I can recover the photos by connecting my phone to my computer?


  • The photos are not on a card.
  • Some photos were taken on the phone before I knew that the pictures were deleted.
  • Suspicious software was installed to recover the photos but they didn't work, and one contained malware! So, I am not looking for software recommendations.

I apologize if this has already been answered, just let me know where -- I haven't been able to find the answer.

  • We can't recommend software on here as it is mostly "opinion based" answers that you will receive, which doesn't answer your question. On the part of your question regarding the internal memory or the microSD card then - microSD can be plugged into a PC to be recovered. Easier but no guarantee. Internal phone memory - as said, is much more difficult and will almost definitely result is no usable data if recovered. Cost is also a factor. – Kinnectus Jan 3 '15 at 23:53
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    Recommending software that can "get the job done" as part of the answer is OK, but having a Q like "what's your favourite software for X" that's opinion based & not seen as very useful. – Xen2050 Jan 4 '15 at 4:22
  • Protected cause this has already started attracting spam. – Journeyman Geek Jan 4 '15 at 5:09
  • @Big Chris I apologize. I thought I made it clear in my question that I was NOT asking for software recommendations and thought I worded my question to avoid spam. I asked for a manual solution, but am open to a software solution as a last resort. After reading answers to similar questions, I thought that there would be some steps that I could follow if I connected my phone to the computer, and get into the directory/files or whatever. Would it be better if I just asked if there was a manual solution not involving software, though I am happy for any solution? I guess I wasn't clear enough. – TeaJay Jan 6 '15 at 5:08
  • @JourneymanGeek Are the 2 answers given spam, or spamish, or were the spam answers blocked? (Or is it inappropriate to say here?) – TeaJay Jan 6 '15 at 5:14

If you're looking for software where it might be possible to "substantiate the trustworthiness of the software" you might consider using PhotoRec (part of the testdisk software). It's source code is available to browse, and it's also in the Debian & Ubuntu (linux distros) repositories, and has been for years. Photorec was originally designed to recover lost photos from memory cards (so I read somewhere) but it can also recover a ton of other filetypes from lots of different filesystems. It runs on Linux, Windows, Mac...

About recovering photos from your phone, as others mentioned if they were on a memory card then taking it out & reading it on a computer would be the easiest. If it were on internal memory, that would be harder, but might be possible if your phone can enable "USB mass storage mode" for the area that held the photos...

Your Samsung could have Android 4 to 4.4, so these instructions from the PhotoRec FAQ might help:

If you want to recover data from a memory card used in your phone, put the card in an USB card reader. To recover files from an internal memory, you have to enable the USB mass storage mode.

Android 4.0-4.1.2

ie. Samsung Galaxy S2/S3 or Nexus, HTC Desire X/V/C, HTC One X/V/S, LG Optimus L5/7/9, Optimus G, Motorola Droid RAZR, Sony Xperia V/T, Kindle Fire HD

  • Open the Setting > More
  • Search then Tap on USB utilities
  • Check the option: Connect Storage to PC

Then plug the USB cable into the device and connect to your computer. The USB connected screen with the large green Android icon will appear. Tap on Connect USB storage. A confirmation dialog box will appear. Tap OK. The green Android icon will turn orange, indicating that the phone is now in USB Mass Storage mode and should now appear as USB disk drives in Devices with Removable Storage

Android 4.2

ie. Nexus 4, Google Nexus 10, Samsung Galaxy S4

  • Go to Settings -> About Phone/Tablet.
  • Go to “Build Number” at the end of the Scroll list.
  • Tap on “Build Number” repeatedly 7 times (Yes, it's not a typo)
  • Now Developer Option will be included in setting list of yours now. Go to “Develop Options” to check USB debugging > OK. Done.

Then you can use PhotoRec on the now accessible drive/partition.


You might be able to copy the entire filesystem from your Android device, then dig through it with PhotoRec / Testdisk, or a similar tool looking for photos, deleted or not. That would involve using ADB (Android Debug Bridge), and might need a rooted device. Some guides are here:

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    In most cases I'd use photorec. I do believe later android phones expose storage as MTP rather than mass storage. Not sure if testdisk/photorec works there. – Journeyman Geek Jan 4 '15 at 5:09

If the photos were stored on a microSD card etc., the best way is to plug it in to a PC and run a recovery software like PuranFileRecovery or Recuva (personally I recommend Puran, however Recuva recovers files with modification dates, if you care about that). They are portable, easy to use, and usually yield good results, as long as the data wasn't deleted a long time ago. If the photos were on the phone memory, it might be harder, as many Samsungs (for example with Android Jelly Bean) don't give full access to the built-in memory.

I don't recommend using DrFone software, as it doesn't work well and it also leaves a lot of 'traces' of itself on the phone and on the computer.

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