Kim Barloso

Instructions on how to restore data in the internal memory of your Android phone


Very often the data is deleted not from sd-card but from Android internal memory. In this situation, no Android file recovery software helps. So, users are not only deprived of valuable data, but also limited in recovery methods.

This method of data recovery from Android phone internal memory cannot be called very simple. But it works and has been successfully tested by me. The recovery method described above was suggested by Wartickler at and supplemented by a very helpful article on Habrahabr (most of the relevant information is cited there. Thanks to the author for writing it).

Contents :

  1. How hard is it to recover /files from internal memory
  2. What are the steps to recover
  3. What programs do you need to work with internal memory
  4. Installing BusyBox and root-Access
  5. Connecting the phone to the PC via ADB
  6. Creating a copy of the Android memory partition
  7. Converting file to disk
  8. Monitoring the Android memory
  9. Recovering the internal memory /files via Recuva
  10. Questions and answers

Who would benefit from the guide to recover data from the phone. File Deletion Scenarios

It turns out that it is possible to deeply scan the Android internal memory. All you need to do to recover data from your phone:

  1. find free recovery utilities
  2. read carefully the data recovery manual
  3. repeat the steps described in it on your Android.

The difficulty of recovery from the phone's internal memory

The Android internal memory is not connected as a disk as the external sd card, which you can always connect to your computer. External memory allows you to use data recovery tools that scan deleted /files and help you get them back in working order.

Ordinarily, the operating system simply removes a link pointer in the index which tells you that a file exists with that name and it is in that position on the hard drive/memory. There are effective data deletion tools, they overwrite the deleted file in several cycles, preventing recovery this way.

The catch is that data recovery software needs an actual disk to deeply scan photos deleted accidentally. Newer phone models often do not support external SD cards, which are very easy to mount as disks using a memory card reader. This slightly complicates Android recovery: the internal memory is mounted as MTP / PTP, which is not considered a mounted drive and therefore not recognized by data recovery applications. However, we can solve this problem.

Steps to recover internal memory

I have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus Toro phone. I believe the recovery method is suitable for any android phone with internal memory. We will also need Windows 7 OS or higher to:

  • Backup the phone internal memory partition to computer as a single massive RAW file,
  • Convert RAW file to virtual hard drive,
  • Mount virtual hard drive as drive in Disk Manager,
  • Scan the mounted virtual hard drive,
  • Find deleted /files, perform data recovery from android phone with Recuva

Checklist of necessary data recovery tools

  • Android phone with root access
  • Installed BusyBox (set of Linux console utilities)
  • Linux environment for Windows - Cygwin at [c\cygwin] with pv and util-linux from the repository. Need to open the Cygwin application at least once to make sure the /bin folder is created. Additionally, I made a folder in [c:\cygwin\nexus] to put the exported .raw file there,
  • Unix utility Netcat (download the ZIP file and unzip nc.exe to [c:\cygwin\bin]),
  • ADB drivers (make sure that adb.exe is in your Windows environment path),
  • USB debugging must be enabled on the device,
  • VHD tool from mighty Microsoft. Place VhdTool.exe file in [c:\cygwin\nexus],
  • Piriform Recuva or your favorite data recovery tool (Recuva finds only the most famous file types: images, videos etc. For more exotic file types on Android, use more specialized programs)

Download Recuva for Recovery

Install BusyBox on the phone and grant root access

We will need a copy of the phone internal memory partition, it is not so easy to make. A set of BusyBox unix utilities is required and root access to perform operations with these applications.

BusyBox and KingoRoot can be downloaded from our site or directly from 4pda (registration required to download /files there). Install the utilities in the following order: KingoRoot then BusyBox.

Download BusyBox

Download KingoRoot

The KingoRoot manager is installed simply: turn on the Internet on the phone, run the installer. It "root" the phone, i.e. enables full access to the Android system. Then we install BusyBox. The default installation directory is reserved.

Install KingoRoot on the phone

Restoring from Android internal memory. Connecting phone to PC in ADB mode

Pair the included phone to the PC in ADB mode. The easiest way to do so is to download adb-drivers for your phone model and install them on the PC. Preferably reboot the PC after that.

On the phone activate the debug mode (Options - Developer Options - check the box "USB Debugging"). If the debugging section is absent go to About device, press the line "build number" 7 times.

Connect the phone to the PC via usb cable. If the phone asks you to start the debug mode, accept.

Make a raw copy of the partition from the phone

The way to recover from the internal memory of the phone is based on the complaints from the people that have problems following the manual. I suggest to recover full block of memory instead of data partition. I have one called mmcblk0. Check if your drive name is different from mine. Determine which block or partition you want back. I needed to recover the partition with user data: /dev/block/mmcblk0p12.

Open the Cygwin console (assuming BusyBox is installed at [/system/bin/busybox]), although it could be [/system/xbin/busybox]. Run the following commands in the console:

adb forward tcp:5555 tcp:5555 adb shell /system/bin/busybox nc -l -p 5555 -e /system/bin/busybox dd if=/dev/block/mmcblk0p12 

Open another Cygwin terminal and type:

adb forward tcp:5555 tcp:5555 cd /nexus nc 5555 | pv -i 0.5 > mmcblk0p12.raw 

Make a mug of coffee. Copying the 32GB internal memory takes about 3 hours.

Convert the internal memory image to a readable RAW

We need to convert the raw file to a virtual partition on the hard disk. The VhdTool.exe utility simply puts a VHD subfile at the end of the raw file. Open a Windows command prompt, go to [c:\cygwin\nexus] and run the command:

VhdTool.exe /convert mmcblk0p12.raw 

Mounting a VHD image in Windows

Now we need to mount a VHD image in Windows. Go to Computer Management (Start - Computer - Management). Go to Disk Management.

Menu Action - Attach Virtual Hard Disk.

Source with [c:\cygwin\nexus\mmcblk0p12.raw]

Right-click the name on the left of the unallocated space and select Initialize disk. Select GPT.

Right click on the Unpartitioned /filespace - Create Simple Volume.

In the wizard press "Next", leave the default settings for Size, Next, choose a drive letter (K for example), Next. Make sure you have not activated the option Do not format this partition, Next, Finish.

A window will appear prompting you to format the disk. DO NOT format the drive at this point. Recovering /files after formatting is not always possible!

Right click on the RAW space and select Format... Set the file system type to FAT32. Set the allocation size to "Default". Make sure that the Quick Format option is set. You don't want to overwrite the entire new drive with zeros (0) and destroy data. A quick format means that Windows will try to destroy the index for the disk by creating a new index. Without this option, Windows will overwrite the disk with zeros (0), wiping out your data. Click OK.

A window will appear informing you that formatting this partition will erase all data on it. This would be doubly true if you do not actually check the "quick format" option. Double check that you actually checked the box and click OK.

Recover /files from Android internal memory image using Recuva

Open the Piriform Recuva application. In the recovery wizard click the 'Next' button. Select 'Other' and 'Next'. Click the 'In a specific location' button and enter: K:\ (assuming that K is the letter of the mounted drive...). Press the 'Next' button. Select the Deep Scan option. This is a magic option that finds /files that have been deleted... but are not actually deleted. Click the "Run" button to scan the disk.

The application can scan deleted /files for about an hour in Deep Scan mode. Make two more cups of coffee!

When Recuva has produced the scan results, you can select /files to recover using the checkboxes. Click on the "Recover..." button and indicate where you would like to save data from the phone.

Recover phone data via Recuva

How to use Recuva

Frequently asked questions

I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone. I accidentally erased the voice recordings on Call recorder. Is there a free file recovery program?

If you have recorded audio /files stored on an sd-card, almost any file recovery program for Android and PC will do. Among the popular ones is Tenorshare Data Recovery, from the universal ones, we advise you to download Recuva. If the /files were stored in the internal memory of the phone, things are more complicated here. Try the Android app called Undeleter Pro or follow this instruction to recover /files from the internal memory.

Do you want to download the program to your computer or to the smartphone itself? The smartphone says "there is not enough space", although the internal memory is sufficient. No memory card was inserted.

First of all, do not copy /files to where you are going to perform Android data recovery. Try Recuva or choose another photo recovery program if you fail.

The phone's internal storage was full, so I deleted the data from the cache. After that I realized that all my photos and videos were deleted! There was no backup.

If there was no space left in the internal memory the data might have been overwritten many times. Therefore chances of recovering photos are minimal. Check if the /files you are looking for are not on the memory card: maybe the Android camera recorded the /files there, for lack of available space in the internal memory.

If you are using a Samsung mobile device and the backup was enabled, check the cloud backup /files. Also it makes sense to check the albums in Google Photos to see if the photos are there.

I would like to use your method to restore the Android internal memory but I have only 17gb on my C drive but my phone has 53gb. Is there any way to create a virtual drive folder on the D drive? Phone Xiaomi Redmi Note 4x.

Yes, of course you can save a copy of Android internal memory to drive D. The main thing is to have all the exe /files needed to work in the cygwin64 folder. In the console indicate D instead of drive C.

Readers questions

How do I know if the block recovery process is working? Everything was going fine, but after typing all commands in the terminal a couple of lines with zeros in a second window appeared, a file *.raw was created in the nexus folder with size 0b, and that was the end of it. However, after a while some time on disk E: (in my case Cygwin was installed from there) some file with a name something like vhd sized 499 MB (recovering a 12 GB block) was found, but the most interesting thing was that a virtual disk was created with a single empty recovery.txt file! What went wrong?

Answer . That's right, the vhd is mounted and after a quick format it should have no /files at all. Now you need to run Recuva and specify this drive to search for /files on it. If the snapshot of the Android internal memory has been done correctly, the /files should show up in the list of found /files during the deep scan.

If raw file is not recoverable, try another way of creating internal memory snapshot - via ftp server creation, when phone is used as usb modem. The process is described in the above mentioned article on Habrahabr (link at the top of this article).

Missing /files from flash and Android internal memory. Not cleaning the phone from debris as I'm not sure if the information in the folder is correct! Please tell me the reason and programs to recover lost /files from android internal memory! on your site the information is purely for computer!

Answer . There are no good programs to recover from the internal memory of your phone. Getting access to the system is not easy. In this article, a working way to recover the /files from the Android internal memory

The problem is the following: the tablet crashed, some photos were restored in the service center, but the hut was reflashed and the internal memory seems to be formatted. Tried to restore the prog, but the tablet connects as an mtp, not as a flash drive, and can not scan. Is it possible to recover the data from the Android internal memory by copying the memory image and its partitions? Yes, the process is described in detail above. Using ftp-server, you can make an exact image of the memory card as raw file, and then mount it on your computer, then use any program (in this case Recuva) to restore photos from the internal memory image of the phone.

The updates came on xiaomi redmi 3 special. Updated, installed - everything works. But the videos and photos saved on the internal memory of the phone are gone. Best of all, it shows total phone memory of 25 Gb, instead of 32 Gb it should be there. May be the lost /files are stored there. I searched all the folders but did not find anything. How can I restore deleted /files in the internal memory of the phone, where can I find them? The photos and videos are stored in the DCIM/Camera folder. If you have not used an external sd-card to store media, it means that your media /files were located exactly in the internal memory, and, therefore, you have to search for them there.

Maybe the folder with your photos has been overwritten while updating your mobile device. By the way, part of the phone memory is occupied by the system /files, so this is not an indication that the /files you need are kept hidden.

Try to find the /files with DiskDigger for Android, if not helpful, make an image of the internal phone memory, then scan the connected disk with Reucva on your PC.

I decided to remove the bad photo, also by accident delete some other photos I needed. The photos were on the memory of the phone itself. When connecting to the computer, the phone does not show up as a separate drive. Therefore, I understand that I can not recover the /files with a simple program, as they were on the phone itself, in its internal memory. What program can I use to recover them? For me it is better some simple option, because I am almost not familiar with it. If possible, with a description of what to do, the steps.

Answer . There is no simple method to recover internal phone memory. As a rule, Android recovery tools work only with external memory or require root to access the phone's memory, searching far away in all internal memory areas. Accordingly, the only possible way is to make an image of the phone memory, you can use any program in the next step. It is important that you have not worked with the phone until then, otherwise the /files may be overwritten.

My question is: can I recover photos from the phone memory itself, not from the memory card. I really need the photos from the Camera folder. When I try to recover deleted photos by myself with the programs that you have recommended, some unwanted Telegram photos, someone's avatars are recovered, but not photos from the camera at all. Is it possible to restore them? Indeed, even though the developers claim that their software will recover /files in all memory areas, in fact most of the data is ignored by the scanning, either because there is not enough rights, or because the software is simply unable to do so. If you are experienced enough, make a snapshot of the internal memory using our instructions. The process takes a lot of time, but there is a probability that among all the garbage you will find the exact photos you need. In addition it is absolutely free, so you can experiment at your leisure.

1. I purchased a new phone (ZTE Blade X3), I wanted to re-install the memory card from the old phone but I forgot to power off the new phone before doing that. All the pictures on the internal memory of the phone are gone, but the ones on the memory card are still there. Only one question: how to restore the photos from the internal memory of the phone? Accidentally deleted the folder with the photos on the internal memory of the phone. As a result, the photos remained in the Android Gallery, but in black and gray color, with the text "file is deleted or corrupted". Is there any way I can recover the photos? First, check if the photos have been copied to the Memory Card (they may be hidden), check for errors with the chkdsk utility (Windows).

If the photos are missing, you may use the DiskDigger utility or make a snapshot of the internal phone memory and then, with PhotoRec or Recuva, restore the photos.

I tried to recover lost Gallery album, I have downloaded two android photo recovery software. Some of the photos came back, but not the most valuable ones. How to retry with minimal risk? I want to try to get back the photos not found, is it realistic in the current situation? The pictures were stored in the Android internal memory.

Answer . By repeatedly scanning the internal memory of your phone you do not run any risks. But the longer you use the phone after deleting the photos, the lower are the chances of recovering them. Any application uses internal memory for its work and may overwrite /files to the free space. In your case it is better to make a snapshot of the phone's internal memory and perform some experiments with it in read-only mode.

  1. The following problem has occurred. The pictures from the camera would be stored in the Camera folder on the SD card. When trying to move other image folders from internal memory to external memory, the Camera folder was automatically duplicated. I deleted one of the Camera folders, which caused the second folder to be deleted as well. Do you know if it is possible to restore these images? I carried out the transfer using a PC, maybe the images are still in the PC memory? The information is very important.
  2. Memory was low on the phone since all the pictures were stored in the internal memory. I found a way - I reset everything from the phone to the PC, while deleting everything from the internal memory. And when I moved the file folder to the flash drive, the photos I wanted were not there. I tried all the recovery software - nothing worked.

Answer . Check all the image storage locations - hard drive, internal memory and sd card. Most likely nothing has been saved to the hard disk, as it does not act as intermediary (i.e. no /files have been copied to it).

In future it is advisable to copy and delete /files only after you have checked them on the destination. Copying via ctrl + x is rather unsafe: There have been quite a few cases where /files have simply been lost along the way.

My son has deleted a photo from the phone (from the internal memory of the device). At the same time there is no flash card on the phone. how can i restore photos and videos? i tried some applications - some of the photos have been restored, but i noticed that they are photos that were once sent to my friends. can i restore the rest really - the ones that i took photos myself? They are very precious to me

Answer . Maybe the recovery software you are using is not scanning the parts of the memory where you deleted them. If the photos are really important, spend some time on recovering the photos from the internal memory copy. We described this method in detail above.

I moved my important photos to the folder of the running game "android/data/com.supercell.clashofclans". Then when I went to the folder on my phone the photos disappeared. Can I restore my photos in the internal memory of my SAMSUNG GALAXY J2 OC ANDROID 5.1.1 phone? Yes, if you follow all steps, as described in the instructions. The most important thing is to determine the drive where your photos were located and make a raw copy of that partition. Recuva should recover your photos from internal memory if their status is yellow or green.

I have a Samsung GT-P7510 tablet. I did everything as in your post. I have a Samsung folder. There appears a vhdtool file - 184KB and a raw file, but it is 0KB. I cannot try the second method with FTP, because I have no USB-Modem option.

Answer . We suggest to download the 64 bit version of netcat. When entering commands in the console use nc64 instead of nc.

If not helpful, here is another instruction to recover from internal memory: // #entry37973807.

“Hello. My name is Kim. I discovered that technology, when used with a purpose, can be pretty amazing. To share the wonder of tech, I’ve written for blogs like and With over three years of freelance writing experience in the technology and entertainment niche, I can write a storm about a software app, a cool browser extension, a new mobile device and other geek-centric stuf... “

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Kim Barloso