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I clicked the "free up space" button in Google Photos, and it deleted the original copies of all my photos and videos in the past 3 years. It happened on a non-rooted Galaxy Note 10 Plus (Android 12), about 120 GB worth of data, in the internal storage, /DCIM folder.

There are tons of discussions and tutorials on this topic, but they all seem outdated. Is it still possible to do data recovery in my case, being non-rooted? Is it even worthwhile to consider rooting the device (would probably wipe it in the process) then try to recover data after reset? After Google Photos deleted my original files, I shut down the devices immediately and have not turned it on ever since.

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  • combination ROM with root shell is your only change, if device isn't encrypted FBE forum.xda-developers.com/t/…
    – alecxs
    Apr 8, 2022 at 8:54
  • google photos app has trash can - have you checked? also make sure not connect to internet as google photos might sync and delete all files from google drive, too. from PC web browser check photos.google.com
    – alecxs
    Apr 8, 2022 at 9:25
  • @alecxs I ran adb shell getprop ro.crypto.type it says file. So basically, "rooting it first (and wipe it in the process)" and then run file recover tool after root, is not a worthwhile approach? And being non-root, even adb cannot scan/dump the whole file system to recover files? Apr 8, 2022 at 18:02
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    file = (FBE) file-based encryption, each file becomes unrecoverable instantly right in the moment of deleting (because each encryption key is secure deleted, too). recovery attempts only "make sense" on block = (FDE) full-disk encryption (or unencrypted devices). FDE of course only when block partition is NOT wiped during the process (unlocking bootloader + root with Magisk is no option). only combination ROM might worth a try (FDE). But afaik even flashing combination ROM requires some authorization nowadays (DID unlock token)
    – alecxs
    Apr 8, 2022 at 18:14
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    @alecxs Thanks! If I understood you correctly, file encryption is even more secure than block, because each individual file is encrypted with a different key, and deleting a file would secure wipe the key, so the actual file content is just gibberish, which means, even with root access, right after a file is deleted, no recovery is possible. Apr 8, 2022 at 18:54

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