I recently lost the contents of a micro-SD card and hadn't backed up the contents recently enough. Luckily, I noticed that the pictures I was missing happen to be in /storage/emulated/0/DCIM/.thumbnails on my Android 5.1 device. The sad thing is I cannot get to those files to do anything with them on my device. The only way I even knew that they were there is because ASTRO File Manager brought them up when I searched for pictures. I would love to be able to put these in a safe place and hoped to be able to do so via my computer. Does anyone know of a way to get my computer (Windows 7) to recognize this file? (Naturally, I told my computer to view hidden files, so that's not the issue.) All I can see is /Internal storage and /SD card (not /storage). If you have a workaround, please let me know too. If I can move (or better yet copy) these photos to another place on my phone and then move them, that would be absolutely wonderful.

  • 1
    Try copying them elsewhere using ES File Explorer. In addition, as phyrfox said, it is likely these are just thumbnails (based on the name), rather than the full pictures. I'd recommend using a file recovery program on your SD card before writing anything else to it.
    – NateR
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 3:23
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    Ah, I'm sorry to hear that. Honestly, I don't have any ideas for how to extract the thumbnails from it, if they aren't visible in there. What app were you able to see the pictures in? Also, I'd recommend trying to ask the question over on the Android Stackexchange (android.stackexchange.com) as well... There might be more people knowledgeable about your situation there. EDIT: Just tried it out on my own phone, and the pictures are showing up in the .thumbnails file just fine. Do you have "Show Hidden Files" set to "On" in the menu of ES File Explorer?
    – NateR
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 4:25
  • I actually got it. Let this serve as another lesson to BACKUP YOUR FILES! Totally automatically backing mine up now! Thank goodness for thumbnails!
    – Padawan
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 4:38
  • Very glad to hear! What ended up doing it for you?
    – NateR
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 4:41
  • Combination of using 3 apps and my computer to move stuff around. Only got the thumbnails, but I'm fine with that :).
    – Padawan
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 4:16

3 Answers 3


The "/storage/emulated/" folder does not really exist. It's what might be called a "symbolic link", or, in simpler terms, a reference to where the real data is stored. You'll need to find the actual physical location on your device where it is stored. Since it's in /storage/emulated/0/DCIM/.thumbnails, it's probably located in /Internal Storage/DCIM/.thumbnails/. Please note that that this folder probably only contains "thumbnails", which are very small versions of the real files. It's possible your real files are gone forever if your SD card is irrecoverable.

Edit: "Never Say Never" The link actually refers to an emulated SD Card on your device. Access the data "directly"* as the SD Card, and you will have access to all the data on that card. *Airdroid's file "app" will allow this. And, if memory serves, access via a USB data cable will also.

  • I would be perfectly fine just recovering the thumbnails. (The quality is not too bad.) Problem is, I can't see them (at least via my computer) in /Internal Storage/DCIM/.thumbnails/. Is there a way I could see if this is the correct "symbolic link"? Thanks for checking on this. I REALLY appreciate any help I can get!
    – Padawan
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 3:28
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    @J.A. I just checked my phone in Media mode, and I was able to see (my version) of those files in the location I suggested. You might need to enable "View Hidden Files" to get to them/get them to display. (View > Hidden Items in newer versions of Windows, or under Tools > Folder Options > View > Show Hidden Items in older Windows).
    – phyrfox
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 3:36
  • Windows still doesn't seem to see the files... Is you phone rooted?
    – Padawan
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 3:46
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    No. Sorry. It's a regular phone I got from my carrier. You might need to search several places, because each version of the OS might use a different place. It's really hard to tell exactly where it might be. Without the SD card, though, it's definitely in internal memory somewhere.
    – phyrfox
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 6:08

I could recover my files by going to "Settings -> Storage and usb -> Images -> Camera. There if you select a photo then the right side top menu changes to "Select All" and "Copy to..". First select all, then copy to a folder like "downloads" or whichever is visible in explorer. Once copied to the desired folder. Copy from that folder to your Computers folder.

  • Please read the question again carefully. Your answer does not answer the original question. The OP lost the contents of the SD card ...
    – DavidPostill
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 7:46

I had the similar issue, only the folder didn't begin with a .. What solved for me was resetting Media Manager.

Go to Settings -> Apps, make sure Show System is checked in the menu, look for Media Store or something like that, click on it and Clear Data. Then reboot your phone and wait until Media Store rebuilds itself.

The rebuild takes several minutes. You can check whether it's done by monitoring the data usage in the same place where you cleared it. Once it stops growing for a couple minutes, it's done. For example, mine stopped on 21 MB.

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