How to Recover Data From Your Smartphone
Hitting that 'delete' button when you didn't mean to can feel like a catastrophic occurrence. Whether it's a presentation you're preparing for the office or a precious family photo you haven't yet backed up on your computer, most people will at some point lose files 'forever'. But it's not all lost.
The first step: breathe and relax. Even though you think your data is gone and your smartphone's operating system shows no signs of its existence, it's likely that there's still a way to get it back. And in many cases, you'd be surprised just how simple it can be.
Recovering Lost Files
The easiest way to ensure you can get your files back is by implementing preventative measures. The obvious and most straightforward step is to have a reliable backup solution in place. Whether it's through hard drives at home or services such as Dropbox, it's important you always have several copies of files you can't afford to lose.
You can also install applications that act as a traditional Trash or Recycle Bin folder. This gives you a buffer between getting rid of files and permanent deletion. If you really want something gone, just go into the trash can and hit the delete button. Similarly, if you've accidentally removed a file, simply restore it.
Should you make the common mistake of not having a backup system in place, don't despair. There are plenty of third-party software solutions that can dig into the depths of your smartphone's file system to recover 'lost' files. The reason these work is because deletion doesn't mean a file is completely gone, it simply means the reference to that file is no longer there. The space taken up by that file is therefore marked as 'free', which means you can override it with new information.
What If You Want Your Data Gone Forever?
It's a dangerous misconception that your phone's operating system's delete button actually means the file is gone forever. And no, we're not talking about having to double check your cleared your Trash folder either. Even that data can be recaptured, if you know what you're doing.
While this is great news for those of us who have accidentally sent a file into oblivion, it also puts users in quite a scary position. Imagine wanting to sell your phone – is a factory reset really enough? Will those risqué selfies or classified work documents come back to bite you in the future? It's a real concern you should have when handing over your phone to someone you don't know.
The following example is a little worrying to say the least: Avast, a leading IT security firm, bought twenty old phones off eBay and found over 40,000 photos, texts, emails, and personal information. All of the sellers had followed manufacturer instructions by going through a factory reset. But that's not even the scariest bit. Instead of using tech 'wizardry' and complicated steps, Avast simply used an off-the-shelf piece of software.
Unsurprisingly, the demand for solutions for permanent data deletion has massively increased, especially considering the current emphasis on data leaks and the publication of personal documents and photos online. And the market has responded in kind. Solutions such as Blancco Mobile have been specifically created to give users an easy way of completely deleting data.
The Future of Data Loss
Data loss is not just a serious issue for individuals, but it's becoming increasingly relevant for businesses. Small and medium-sized organisations in particular have had challenges; the use of virtual storage solutions, while convenient, have led to various instances of accidental deletion. In addition, the popularity of devices such as SSD drives, which are notoriously difficult when it comes to data retrieval, have made recovery a little trickier.
As far as the future of data loss, brace yourself for further significant changes. Kroll Ontrack, a leading data recovery firm, has predicted that this increasing level of data loss will continue to drive demand for robust and escure solutions. The expected widespread use of Microsoft Office 365 as well as Surface means more employees will use portable solutions such as tablets. In short, expect data loss to be a problem you'll be faced with both in your personal life and at the office.
Remember, whether for good or bad, 'factory reset' and 'delete' don't really mean what they lead you to believe. Files on your smartphone can be recovered. If you want to recover your data, don't panic. There's a good chance you can still fetch it. But similarly, if you want things gone forever, ensure you use the proper steps and software to make 100% sure.