How to recover deleted pictures on a Samsung phone: A step-by-step guide

Author: Vlad Brown

Data recovery specialist, guest author, journalist.

Updated on 09/04/2019

One of the biggest problems for owners of Samsung Galaxy mobile phones  (S7, S8, S9) is the loss of photos, images, and video files from the phone’s memory.

Contents:

  1. Recently deleted on Samsung phone
  2. Where the photos have been deleted from
  3. Installing DiskDigger app on Android
  4. SD card photo recovery
  5. Internal phone memory recovery
  6. Photos backup in Google Photos
  7. Reader questions about Samsung photo recovery

Does Samsung have a “recently deleted” option?

Unfortunately, Android doesn't offer backup by default in with a “recently deleted” recovery area.. As a result, users must search for the recently deleted photos themselves, with the help of various programs, and then recover the photos.

In this guide, you will find valuable advice on how to recover deleted pictures on a Samsung - Galaxy S4, S7 – S9, J3, A5, etc. By using this guide, the files are likely to be restored without any damage. 

1. Find out where the photos have been deleted from

The first thing you should do is to find out where the photos were stored on your mobile device before they were deleted. The images could be stored on the internal memory, or on the smartphone / tablet SD card. If possible, you should also identify the type of images that have been deleted: screenshots, photos from the phone gallery, downloads from a messenger file, etc.

This article will help you find the location of the files:

Where the photos are stored on an Android

2. Install the DiskDigger program on Android

The DiskDigger program scans the SD card (if it's installed on your Samsung device) and the mobile device memory, allowing you to find deleted pictures and save them to the Dropbox Cloud or Google Drive. The DiskDigger program is safe and doesn't overwrite any valuable data.

DiskDigger is also one of the best recovery utilities in terms of quality and price. As a bonus, part of the data can be recovered for free. Unlike other programs (like Dr. Fone or Mobisaver) it works directly on the phone and partially works without root-access to the file system.

DiskDigger app for Android

3. Remove the SD card and recover it via your PC

It's worth trying to recover the photos using a PC. You need to insert the SD card into a built-in card reader or a card reader connected via USB to a computer. Then scan the card with one of the following recovery programs:

  • Disk Digger
  • Card Recovery
  • Disk Drill
  • Photorec
  • Dr Fone
  • MobiSaver

A comparative review can be found here:

The best programs to recover files on a sd card

sgal 02
Samsung Galaxy photo recovery via PhotoRec

4. Recovering from the internal phone memory

Unfortunately, the images are not always stored on the phone’s SD card, which would more easily facilitate the recovery. If internal phone storage was selected in the Android application settings, you will not be able to recover deleted pictures on a Samsung in the usual way.The device memory is not listed as a separate drive, and recovery software will not recognize the phone's memory when it is being scanned. It is necessary to make a copy of the internal memory and then scan the copy of the memory with the help of a free program, such as Recuva or other program of your choice.

Instructions for recovery from the internal memory

5. Check the photos backup in Google Photos

If you have installed the Google Photos app on your phone, it is likely that backup image copies were saved to the Cloud. You can check this by logging into your Google Photos account from your phone or via a browser on your computer.

To read the details on restoring from the Google Photos Cloud, click here.

Recover deleted pictures samsung via Google Photos
Google Photos archive

Samsung Picture Recovery: Reader Questions

A few days ago, I upgraded my phone (from a Samsung Mini to a Samsung A5). The shop transferred/upgraded everything from my old phone and all appeared fine, but for whatever reason, my new phone didn't connect to the network. Yesterday I called the shop, and they initiated the network change again. I didn't notice until after I returned home that all my pictures that were stored on my SD card have now disappeared from both phones.  How can I recover deleted pictures from my phone? Thanks a lot.

The answer: To recover the SD card use Recuva, PhotoRec, or DiskDigger (PC version). I advise you to scan both the new and old SD cards.

Also, if the pictures were synced with Google Photos, check the Recycle Bin content on the service and the sync settings. Maybe you have simply disabled them.


Regarding my wife's phone, a Samsung J3: she took many photos in April and again in October 2017. She can't find those photos and doesn’t know if they were stored in the DCIM internal or on the SD card. I have used my PC to check both the DCIMs and can't find them. If my wife deleted them by mistake, is there a way to get deleted pictures back on my Android? Do those cards have any hidden files which the deleted photos have gone into? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

The answer: You can find out where the photos were stored by clicking on the camera settings (depending on whether it's a default app or another camera app) and looking for the default storage location. By doing this you will narrow down the deleted pictures search area. After doing it, start the recovery by choosing one of the methods mentioned above.


(recover photos from phone storage - not on an SD card)

Without rooting it, how do I restore deleted pictures on my Android?  Recuva does not recognize my phone and therefore I cannot recover the deleted photos from my phone storage.

The answer: Try using the Android DiskDigger program, which works without a root. However, note that the probability of recovering from phone memory in this case will be significantly lower than with activated root-rights: scanning will be done only within the sections with open access.


I wanted to send pictures from my phone to the computer. I have cut the folder and pasted it on the Desktop by accident. The folder was empty and the pictures disappeared from the phone. Is it possible to somehow undelete the pictures on Android? I have tried various programs for Android and they haven’t helped.

The answer: It is clear that searching for the images on the PC is pointless. Therefore, only the SD card and the internal memory of the phone are left. You've probably tried programs which scan the memory on the surface. Try using Diskdigger or Recuva (if you're making a copy of the Android internal memory). In general, go through all the paragraphs of the guide step by step.


I have a problem: lately the photos that I download are then deleted from my device. At the time of downloading, the photo is shown, but after some time, the picture disappears and is then replaced with a black background saying "No thumbnail". I've lost a lot of pictures because of it, and this only happens with the pictures I download. Screenshots and camera photos have never disappeared. The memory is both internal and on the SD card. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S7, which I've been using already for 2-3 years.

The answer: Select another location for storing the files in the camera settings: the SD card or internal phone memory. Next, check whether the images are there.

To improve Android’s capability, it's extremely useful to create more free space on the phone. This can be done with the help of CleanMaster, CCleaner, or the built-in Samsung Utility.

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