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I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone and use the native, built-in email app for two corporate/ActiveSync accounts. Recently something went wrong with the settings of one of the accounts, which caused my contacts to disappear. Removing the account and adding it back fixed that issue. Since the account syncs to the server (Outlook 365), I didn't think there would be any loss taking this approach. I was wrong. Evidently draft emails are not synced, and I lost several very important ones. I am desperately trying to find a way to recover the contents of these draft emails that disappeared.

On the recommendation of a friend, I tried using a full-text search program (Astrogrep) to search the phone while connected to my computer, but the program wouldn't allow me to search the phone folders. I also tried using the Wondershare Dr. Fone DataRecovery program to recover messages, but this just keeps getting stuck at 99% during the scanning process (stayed there at least 30 minutes before I backed out) and doesn't bring any results.

I've read in a few places that these emails might be stored in an SQLite database, but I'm not sure how to browse, search, or access this.

I'm grasping at straws at this point, hoping there is some way to find the old draft emails in a file or database of the phone. I'm probably "moderate" when it comes to being tech savvy...so by now I'm looking for some good advice and step-by-step instructions from anyone who might know 1) if these drafts could still be in the phone and 2) how I can locate them to access the content.

Thanks to anyone who can help!

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The default Samsung mail app is com.samsung.android.email.provider.

Unfortunately backup is disabled for this app (the app's AndroidManifest.xml contains the entry android:allowBackup="false"). Because of this you can't access the app's private data directory /data/data/com.samsung.android.email.provider on a non-rooted device.

As the mail storage database is placed inside this app-private data directory you can't extract the files for manually searching the data base e.g. using a hex editor or a different data recovery software.

As your device is pretty old (it is from 2014 and should be running Android 6?) any thus have not received Android security updates for years there may be the possibility to temporary root the device using an exploit. Unfortunately I don't know a reliable and trustworthy rooting app that would work on your device. Note that using such rooting apps may be dangerous as you never know what the app is actually doing in background.

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  • So, if I am able to root the device, then what? Does that suddenly give me access to the protected directories and database files...and how would I then go about accessing them? It looks like the Dr. Fone program can root this phone, among other possible options. Thanks!
    – Luminocity
    May 10 at 4:00
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    @Luminocity Then you would be able to access the SQLite database files on RAW level. Often databases still contain deleted content (which is only marked deleted). Using a hex editor you may be able to recover some draft message texts.
    – Robert
    May 10 at 6:56
  • Once the phone is rooted, would I be able to use Windows Explorer to find the database files, or would some other program be needed? (I'm not sure what you mean be RAW level.) If you can recommend a hex editor that would be much appreciated. Finally, do you know where I should be able to find the database file with deleted content -- in this com.samsung.android.email.provider location...? Thanks!
    – Luminocity
    May 10 at 7:05
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    @Luminocity No Windows Explorer uses MTP which will never make use of root permissions. Use adb from Android SDK and then execute the exploit to get root for a temporary root. Otherwise simply execute su. The database location path is already contained in my answer.
    – Robert
    May 10 at 7:07
  • I have no experience with rooting and I'm not a developer...so any layman's step-by-step instructions and commands for getting to these sqlite files would be immensely helpful. I really want to make sure I can do this without screwing something up or spinning my wheels. For instance, can you suggest the ADB commands to use and/or how to "execute su" for locating and copying the database files? Can this be used to actually search the sqlite files for the deleted draft emails?
    – Luminocity
    May 11 at 4:35

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