Hardly a smartphone or mobile phone user has not experienced it already: You installed a new app in a couple of minutes and nothing works anymore. The smartphone will hang itself up during the installation process and can be restarted in the best case. Or the device just hangs by itself without any reason and after the restart, many, if not all, data disappeared. Also a common problem: The smartphone or the tablet carries out an update automatically and here also the same problem: Data loss. But what now? Can you save your sensitive data stored on the device yourself or should you contact a specialist right away?
Where is data stored on a smartphone or mobile device normally?
For an iOS-based Apple smartphone, all data is stored without exception on the device’s internal memory. Depending on the model, the iPhone has a different sized NAND flash memory. Alternatively, data can also be stored on the computer via iTunes or stored in the cloud via iCloud. The same is true of Apple’s iPad tablet models. Android-based smartphones, on the other hand, offer the option of using three different data stores: In addition to the internal memory – also usually a NAND flash – many devices have a (micro-) SD card slot where the memory card can be inserted and where data can be stored. As a last resort, various data can also be stored on the SIM card of the telecommunications provider, depending on the size of the memory.
How can the user help himself?
If smartphones have not suffered physical or complex logical damage, smartphone owners can try to help themselves at their own risk. To read out the internal memory of an Android-based smartphone, there are some software solutions on the market, which transfers the stored material mostly via USB cable to the user´s computer. If data on the internal memory has been erased due to a crash or an installation abort, it depends on whether it is recognized as a removable hard disk on the PC or Mac or not.
If an internal memory of an Android smartphone up to version 4 is recognized as a removable disk or storage medium, there are some software solutions on the market that can recover the deleted data, as long as you have not waited too long and they have not been overwritten in the meantime by the operating system. For Android smartphones version 4, the solution to this problem is a little more cumbersome, but also possible: Here, the smartphone must first be routed to then create an image of the entire data partition and transfer it to the PC. One can then restore data on the image created with appropriate recovery software.
Problematic iPhone Recoveries
For Apple smartphone owners, the following options are not available: Read out SIM cards and micro-SD memory are completely eliminated because iPhones does not support these locations for saving data and only the internal memory is used. Accessing the internal memory of an iPhone is difficult for most users. Although there is the possibility for older iPhones up to version 4 to switch the device into maintenance mode, by which one can access the internal memory, read it out via special software and restore deleted data. But for all newer devices from the iPhone 4s upwards this way is no longer possible and data recovery can only be done by professional service providers who have special, not commercially available tools, to perform a data recovery.
When should a professional service provider be contacted?
Besides to the data recovery of Apple iPhones from version 4s on, all smartphones with physical damage should always be brought to a professional data recovery service provider. Broken casings or no longer starting smartphones indicate serious problems that cannot or should not be resolved with do-it-yourself methods! Particularly with the complex Flash NAND memories used today, which distribute the various data across several memory modules, data recovery attempts with defective controllers or memories jeopardize your data: In such cases, recovery tools can even increase the damage and change the already complex data structure through unintentional storage and even make professional data recovery impossible. For obviously broken smartphones, owners should always contact a professional data recovery service provider such as Kroll Ontrack!
You find more information about data recovery of mobile devices like smartphones or tablets here:
Picture copyright: Joachim Kirchner / pixelio.de
Michael Nuncic is Marketing Communications Manager at the German Ontrack Data Recovery office in Böblingen for more than 5 years. Highly experienced in computer, network and software topics, he is a professional editor for blog and technical articles for almost 20 years now.