I recently bought an Android phone on a site similar to craigslist or ebay but more locally based. After buying it, I somehow got it into my head that the phone might be stolen goods. In hindsight, the price negotiation, periferals and seller history is what got me suspicious, though I must say I'm not a 100% sure.

The seller did a factory reset, obviously, it's what you do when you give the phone to a new owner, so that's not suspicious. But I was wondering, is it possible to undo the factory reset and recover any photos or messages, even is it's just partial, maybe this could give some clues to confirm my suspicions.

So I did a google search and there are many programs that claim to do this:


They all offer a program with a very similar GUI, the basic structure of them is all the same, so right off the bat that's a bit flaky and not very reliable. But I tried one anyway (jihosoft.com see here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TdLzu_Q2C4 ), which seems to install an Android app on the phone, does some more stuff, and in the end it just says "gallery(0), videos(0), audio(0)". So the program might actually work as advertised, but the previous owner erased the phone properly and thoroughly.

So my question is; Is there any way to (partially) recover photos or messages after a factory reset? Or maybe do some digital sleuthing using the IMEI nr?

  • IMEI might help, but that you can do if you take it to the police department concerned with software crime in your country. Factory reset removes everything. There may be some things that software engineers can recover, but I can't help thee about that. You can post this on www.quora.com. Commented May 7, 2017 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Yes, you need root access for files other than pictures !

The particular method that doesn't require root access is only supported from Android 5.0.1+ ( i think )

You need to download Disk Digger ( photo recovery ) - rootless Disk Digger ( All file types, needs root ) I personally use Disk Digger Pro from Defiant Tech'

Google Store Link for Developer Defiant Technologies

Anyway i hope this helped.


• The Photo recovery doesn't need root access because it uses a new inbuilt photo recovery feature in Android 5.0.1+ devices

• The root access method will do an entire sector by sector scan on the internal storage, for the selected file types ... Several are supported.

  • Thanks for the tip, I tried DiskDigger but it only found the same set of stock photos a couple of times in different file sizes. So city scapes, colorful mosaic etc, stock background photos that comes with a default Android installation. I'm not going to root the device, with the risk of bricking it, just for the slight chance that there is anything there.
    – BdR
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 18:04

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