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About two months ago (just over 60 days so they are no longer in Trash), I manually deleted thousands of photos off my Google Photos account due a problem I had with duplicate files. I had a back up of all the photos on SD cards which I needed to clear. I moved the photos to an external hard drive. Later, I discovered that Windows had somehow decided to not copy about 1600 of the files.

The only trace I have left of the missing photos are the cached images on Google Photos on a broken android phone (LG G3) which I've turned on without any access to the internet. Even if they are low quality, I am desperate to recover these photos. Does anyone know how to access the cached photos (or thumb nails) of Google Photos?

My plan, if I can access them, is to create a wifi hotspot with another android phone without access to the internet and use something like airdroid to move the images to a computer. I could also maybe put an SD card back in the phone and move the files there instead?

The phone is not rooted. I've looked around using the file manager but have not been able to locate them. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Do you still have the SD card you copied the photos to? If it is being used currently remove it from your device. Depending on how much data you've written to the SD card so far, you might be able to restore it using something like easeus.com/data-recovery/card-recovery-software/… – samdd Mar 30 '17 at 22:20
  • @SamDenty There were two SD cards, ones already full of new photos but I will try recovery on the second on the off chance that the photos I need were on the (now quite small) unused section of it. Have you tried the software you have linked to? Does it work well? – Dan Mar 31 '17 at 21:29
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    I've used Recuva in the past and was able to recover about 20/40GB on a harddrive, you may get some photos back, but because you've stated that data has been written to the card, your chances are limited. – samdd Mar 31 '17 at 21:49
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You're best option is to try recovery software such as Recuva or EaseUS Data Recovery on one on the SD cards which once contained the deleted photos. The chances of recovering your data this way are slim, as even just a few missing kilobytes can corrupt whole photos and videos.

Android stores cached images in the following locations:

/sdcard/DCIM/.thumbnails
/data/data/com.google.android.apps.photos

If you're not rooted, then refer to this guide on how to use ADB to pull the data from the Google Photos application.

If all else fails, then your last two options would be to try contacting Google Support to see if they still have the files on their servers. Hardware data recovery could restore your photos at a price.

  • Thanks, miraculously the photos were on the very small unused section of the right SD card and I got them using EaseUs (Recuva found nothing). Thanks or the other tips, if the phone wasn't broken I would investigate just to see if it would have worked but it's too frustrating to try use it when I no longer need to. Incidentally, contacting google was the first thing I did (via send feedback in google photos as I did not know how else to. They did not respond) – Dan Apr 3 '17 at 14:02
  • @Dan Glad it worked – samdd Apr 3 '17 at 14:43
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I think you can Android Data Recovery software to scan your LG phone and find the deleted photos for you. This software can scan your phone and SD card deeply to find the deleted photos for you. You can preview them and then recover them from your LG phone to computer. Try to find the best Android Data Recovery software on google and download one of them. Good Luck!

  • Thanks but unfortunately the photos were never on the phone, they were in Google Photos but uploaded from a laptop. The Photos app on the phone has many of the lost photos in at least thumbnail format which is what I'm after as it's my only shot. – Dan Mar 31 '17 at 21:31

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