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