We’ve all been there: you accidentally delete the data on your phone or you lose the most important files you have stored there. It’s really unpleasant and even sad to lose files that are important either professionally or personally, so it’s better to prevent than to treat. At the other end of the specter, there are the situations where you sell or your phone or give it to someone else and you make a factory reset. You might think that everything is gone forever, but what if it’s not true?
In fact, many researchers have found that just as you can recover data with the right tools after you delete them accidentally, so can someone gain access to your old data after the factory reset. This happens because when you choose to delete a file, the system simply gets rid of the information about the file, it doesn’t overwrite the file. This might become a serious privacy issue for people who sell or donate their devices.
However, there are some ways in which you can make sure the data you want gone will be forever shredded.
Step 1: Encrypt your phone
Encrypting the Android device is one of the safest ways to ensure nobody else can recover your data. Through this you are actually scrambling all the data and putting it away under a particular key. Once you encrypt it, the file cannot be accessed without a passcode. The good news is that most Android devices running the 6.0 Marshmallow version are already required to have encryption.
Step 2: Overwrite it
Now that all your data is scrambled, perform a factory reset on it, so everything is erased. Even if someone were able to recover the data, it would be impossible to decrypt it. The second step to protect it is to get some new data into the phone. Set up the device but don’t sign into any account. Just record a video at the highest resolution until you fill up the space in the phone, then factory reset it again.
Step 3: Again and again
If you want to be absolutely sure everything is deleted, you can repeat steps 1 and 2 several times until you feel okay with it. However, doing it one time would be enough.
In case you accidentally deleted the data and want to access it (or you’re curious to find out whether the previous owner of the phone has deleted it for good), you should know that there are a lots of apps on the market designed for that:
- Undeleter. Works for tablet, smartphones and PDAs. However, it is only compatible with rooted phones, but it restores all types of files and it helps you delete and share files in a safe manner.
- Easeus MobiSaver. Available for Android, it lets you preview and export lost data by choosing any format you want, it’s safe and has a user-friendly interface.
- Remo Recover. Also for Android, it is very helpful in recovering files regardless of the manner you lost them. It can even recover them from the SD card and it brings back music, pictures, videos and .apk files.