Finding out that your important files went missing from your Android can be devastating. This can happen due to rooting error, hardware malfunction, or accidental deletion. Luckily, there are numerous apps that can help you restore your photos, documents, and videos.
Why Should I Use Android Recovery Apps?
Data recovery software is used to locate and restore missing or damaged files to your phone in case of unforeseen circumstances. This is possible because deleted data still exists on your phone, unless it’s been overwritten with new information. You might be able to find your files manually, but this isn’t exactly convenient. A good recovery app will save you time and nerves, which makes it valuable.
Even if you currently don’t experience problems, we would recommend installing one. The truth is, all your files are susceptible to damage to one degree or another. You never know when this is going to happen, so it’s best to be prepared just in case. If your Android device is physically damaged, recovery of your important pictures and videos stored on an SD card may still be possible.
How to Choose SD Card Recovery App
Picking out the right app to restore your files isn’t as easy as it sounds. Before deciding, you should first answer the following questions:
- 📄 Which files do you wish to recover? There’s a number of great free recovery apps that can help you restore images, WhatsApp messages, and call logs. However, if you want to recover videos, audio files, and less popular formats, paid premium apps are going to be more effective.
- 💰 What is your budget? Are you willing to pay for a subscription or are you just looking for free recovery apps? Don’t forget, many premium apps offer a free trial that you can use to verify which files can be recovered. There are few things more annoying than purchasing a pricey Android app to recover SD card data, only to find that it can’t help you. One of them is not getting a refund. So, always test the trial version before committing, as you can potentially save a lot of money.
- ⏱ How much time do you have? Are you in a rush to recover important documents or do you have enough time for a thorough scan that is likely to find additional files?
- ⚙️ Do you want to use Rooting? Rooting gives users complete access to Android’s operating system. Without it, you can only perform a limited scan, which might not find all the files that you wish to recover. However, rooting your device makes it more vulnerable, and if you don’t know what you are doing, you can do more harm than good. If you decide to root your device, make sure that you pick the app you absolutely trust, otherwise, it might expose your private data.
- 💡 Can this app restore my files? Not all apps support recovery from an external memory such as SD cards. Make sure to do thorough research before committing.
Top 5 Android Apps to Recover SD Card Data
DiskDigger is a popular recovery software used for restoring lost images from memory cards, Android’s internal memory, HDDs, and USB flash drives.
We loved DiskDigger because of its clean and user-friendly interface. The app has solid recovery abilities and can restore up to 80% of files. If some of your data was also stored in the internal memory, you have the option to do a limited scan without rooting. However, doing the full scan gives you the ability to recover videos as well. If you root your Android device, DiskDigger will also give you the option to choose which partition to scan. To find an SD card, look for the folder that ends with /mnt/sdcard/. DiskDigger will ask you to specify the types of files that you are looking for, which will make it work much faster.
After the scan is done, I had the option to filter files by type and size by pressing the gear icon. Selecting the checkbox also lets you specify the minimum size, which can make your search much easier. Once I found my lost photos, the app gave me 3 ways to recover them: save to device, save to an app, and FTP upload. I picked save to an app, as this lets me transfer my data to cloud storage like Dropbox, or e-mail them to someone.
Overall, Disk Digger is a good free software that is capable of recovering your photos and videos. We also didn’t find the limit to how many files you can retrieve. Transferring your images is also really convenient, which is a big plus.
I was a bit reserved about adding this one to the list. Due to its generic name, I couldn’t find much reliable info on it, but it had a great score on Google Play, so I’ve decided to give it a chance. The app is marketed as an end all be all, as it can recover everything from images and important documents to full audio and video files.
Data Recovery greets you with a minimalistic interface that lets you pick between 4 recovery modes, based on the types of files you wish to retrieve. The app doesn’t require rooting and scans through your memory fairly quickly. However, I didn’t find a way to scan through the specific locations, although you can filter by time and size. This resulted in a somewhat frustrating recovery process and I wished there was a way to only see files stored on an SD card. Before restoring, you get a preview of every file, so that’s something. After some time, I managed to find 3 out of 4 files I was looking for.
Data Recovery gives you the option to save files to your phone or upload them on Google Disk. The second option is reserved for premium users. Aside from recovery, the app also lets you clean junk files. I wouldn’t recommend this function, as the software crashed immediately after using it. To get the most out of it, you will need a Premium license, which is reasonably priced. A one-time payment of $12 will give you unlimited recovery, cloud backup, as well as remove all ads. Considering the price, I’d say it offers decent capabilities, but nothing worth writing home about.
Next, we have a product from EaseUs, a popular company with 17+ years of experience in data restoration. MobiSaver claims to be the most intuitive Android recovery app that will easily find lost images, contacts, messages, and videos on your SD card and Android’s internal memory.
MobiSaver does indeed have an elegant interface, with 6 recovery modes to choose from. Besides SD Card, there’s also Photo & Video, Call Logs, WhatsApp, SMS, and Contacts. For this review, I’ve only scanned through my external memory card, which was done fairly quickly. In total, EaseUs MobiSaver supports 9 formats: JPG, GIF, TIF, BMP, PNG, MP4, MOV, AVI, and 3GP. The app displayed all the files located by size, format, and date. Images also had thumbnails, while Contacts showed phone number and name, which made the navigation easier.
Although there is a free trial, it only lets you restore 1 file at a time, which won’t work for everyone. To use it effectively, you will have to purchase a single license and use rooting. Pro version of MobiSaver costs $39.95, which is a bit pricey but offers unlimited restoration. All in all, I wasn’t that impressed by MobiSaver, and judging by the user reviews, I am not the only one.
Dr.fone is among the most popular recovery apps, with a user base in 150+ countries. The app was created by Wondershare Technology, a software company based in China. It’s marketed as a premium app, which offers a solution to numerous data loss scenarios.
Dr.fone is a paid app, so I went to test it with higher expectations than usual. Besides the photos, contacts, and messages, the app also lets you recover videos from Cache. It supports many popular formats, such as JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, MP4, 3GP, AVI, MOV, and more. Dr.fone gives you the option to retrieve data from Cache, so rooting is not necessary.
A great feature that sets them apart from the competition is the wireless transfer of files between Android and PC. Simply visit their online service, input a 6-digit key, and you are good to go. Dr.fone also offers a Recycle Bin, which works exactly like on Mac or Windows. If you use it to delete files, they can easily be restored at a later date.
There’s also a desktop version of dr.fone, which comes with bonus tools. Clone will let you transfer all contacts to another phone with just 1 click. Root straightforwardly and securely guides you through the process of obtaining root access, while Backup will make sure that all your important files are copied to PC. All of this makes Dr.fone one of the most convenient recovery apps.
But, the question remains, how effective is it? I’ve deleted a few files prior to installing it to gauge its effectiveness, and Dr.fone managed to restore around 90% of them. Although it is not perfect, in my case it performed pretty well. If you decide to purchase it, a 1-year license is available for $39.95 and includes 1 PC and up to 5 mobile devices. A lifetime license will cost you $ 49.95. However, if you wish to get a desktop version with more tools, prepare to cash out $ 139.95 annually. All in all, this is a satisfying, although quite expensive, recovery app.
Lastly, we have an app from Stellar Information Technology, a company from the Netherlands that specializes in data recovery. Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery is completely free, which made it popular among users.
When you first open it, Phoenix Data Recovery asks you to choose between recovering messages, photos, and contacts. These files can be retrieved from an SD card and internal memory. The app lets you preview all files so that you are always certain what you are recovering.
Similar to MobiSaver, you can choose to save files to memory, FTP Site, or turn on File Sharing to send them to apps like Facebook, Google Drive, and Gmail. Unlike some other entries on the list, Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery requires that your device is rooted before using it. The app is pretty good at recovery, although you can’t use it to look for lost videos. Despite these minor setbacks, Phoenix Data Recovery is among the best Android apps for recovering SD card data.
So, what is the best app to recover data from an SD card? There isn’t an easy answer to this question, as it will depend on your needs. Some free apps are pretty capable of recovering images and various documents, but it’s also true that premium ones often give better results. There are pros and cons to every app on this list, which will depend on your context.