From photos to SMS messages, there are hundreds of important files you can lose on your smartphone in any number of scenarios. Luckily, there is software out there that can help you at least attempt to recover lost files, and we have the best picks—regardless of if you use Android or iPhone.
While there are a few Android-only apps you can install to recover data that way, we focused on cross-platform software options so that iOS devices can reap the benefits as well. You’ll install these programs on your computer, then connect your phone to your computer via a cable and run the scan. And in order to have the best chance at success, you should stop using the device you lost files on immediately until you get access to this software. Otherwise, you risk partially or fully overwriting your files, rendering them permanently irretrievable.
Disclaimer: Use at Your Own Risk
Though you might get lucky and recover everything with one of these programs, there is never a guarantee that’ll always (or ever) be the case. The software is something you should use as a last resort after you’ve tried everything else you can think of to get your files back.
Also, while we vetted these products, we can’t vouch for any others. If you decide to use a different product, be aware that they may be spammy or malicious, or access and use your data in a way you would not authorize. This is especially likely for many free options, for what it’s worth, as paid options for this type of software are usually moreso on the up and up.
What to Look for in Data Recovery Software
The goal of these programs is to help you get back lost data, and they all work pretty much the same way. However, some offer wider compatibility and have more features than others, so it’s worth taking a moment to learn about what to expect:
- Device Compatibility: Most of these applications work on both Android and iOS, but a few only support one platform. Android devices tend to have more options available to them, as they are less locked-down than Apple devices. Likewise, most are only available for Windows, but we found two that can be installed on macOS. Be sure to verify compatibility between your devices and the program you’re interested in before purchasing it.
- File Compatibility: The best smartphone data recovery software can handle a wide variety of file types, like photos, videos, music, notes, documents, mobile bookmarks, reminders, call logs, chats, messages, and message attachments. Few programs are capable of searching for all of these, and most just focus on simpler things like media, messages, and call logs.
- Scan & Recovery Speed: These programs typically work in three parts—the initial scan, the preview, and the recovery. Unfortunately, speed is not an indicator of how effective a program will be at finding or fully recovering your lost files, so just because your program completed its scan super fast (or, alternatively, took several minutes or hours) doesn’t mean it will be successful in recouping all of your lost files. Some programs do run faster than others, however, which can only help soothe any anxieties you may have over waiting for the software to run.
- Ease of Use: Because data recovery software isn’t the type of thing you use every day, and because you’re using it while feeling stressed over losing important files, it should be easy to use. Programs with a clean intuitive interface, or with a wizard to guide you through the process, go a long way to making the recovery process less stressful. They should also make it easy to access support resources if you need.
- Technical Support Access: This type of software should definitely have plenty of options for helping you use or troubleshoot it. Ideally, it’ll have built-in help options as well as a knowledgebase and FAQs on the developer’s website and a way to contact actual customer support agents.
Real-Time Alerts: EaseUS MobiSaver
EaseUS MobiSaver has recovery software for both Android (for $39.95) and iOS (for $59.95). It can be installed on PCs running Windows XP and above. From there, just connect your phone to your computer with a cable, specify the folder on your computer you want to store the recovered files in, then preview and pick out the files you want to get back. The files will then be recovered, and the software will provide you with real-time updates as it goes. There are also free versions of the software for Android and iOS, though with limits on how much you can scan and recover, but a free option is a good place to start, as it might do exactly what you need.
For Android, the program can recover data lost via device failure, accidental deletion, rooting, SD card issues, viruses, and improper handling. It can rescue lost contacts, SMS messages, photos, videos, music, notes, documents, and voice memos. Lost contacts can be exported as SCV, HTML, and VCF formats.
The iPhone version can recover the same types of files as well as chats, call history, reminders, calendar events, and Safari bookmarks. It can recover data lost by deletion, device damage, a failed jailbreak, system crash, viruses, OS update failures, and user error. MobiSaver can recover data off your iOS device as well as from iTunes Backup and iCloud Backup. It works on iPhones as old as the iPhone 3GS, iPads as old as the original iPad with Retina display, and the iPod touch 4, 5, and 6.
Widest Compatibility Options: Jihosoft Android Phone Recovery
Jihosoft offers recovery software for Android ($49.95) and iOS ($59). The software works in three easy steps and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It also boasts an extremely massive range of compatible devices and can be installed on either Windows and macOS computers.
The Android version can recover deleted contacts, messages, photos, videos, audio, chats, call logs, document files. It can search for and recover data caused by rooting errors, viruses, factory resets, crashes, ROM flashes, accidental deletion, and broken screens. It’s compatible with over 6,000 Android phones and tablets, with direct support for every Android device running at least Android 2.3.
For the iPhone, the same types of files can be recovered, along with Safari data, reminders, notes, and calendar events caused by accidental deletion, broken or damaged device, failed OS update, or on a stolen or lost device. It can recover files directly on your device, along with those in your iCloud or iTunes Backup. Jihosoft supports literally any iOS device running at least iOS 5, including old iPads and iPods (like the touch, Nano, Shuffle, Mini, and Classic).
Stores a Copy on Your Computer: MyJad Android Data Recovery
MyJad Android Data Recovery ($49.95) is only available for Android, unfortunately. However, it does work with a decent variety of phones running Android, including those by Samsung, Motorola, LG, and HTC. It can recover files like your call history, contacts, SMS messages, videos, photos, and audio files, and even lets you preview files before recovering them.
Once you install and run MyJad and connect your phone, you’ll see two options: “Scan contacts, call history, and messages” and “Scan photos, videos, or other files.” Choose which one you want (or both, if needed), and click “Start.” The software claims the scanning is quick, taking just a few seconds, but warns that if you have a ton of saved data, it may take longer. You can make a copy of any recovered files and save them to your computer. Messages and contacts will be stored in .TXT format; photos as PNG, JPG, GIF, or BMP; and audio and videos as MP3, WMV, MP4, MOV, AVI, 3GP, 3G2, and SWF.
Free for Android (Paid for iOS): Stellar Data Recovery
Stellar offers data recovery software for Android (free) and iOS ($39.99). For Android, you can recover data items like messages, documents, chats, call history, contacts, videos, photos, and audio. It can scan and recover deleted or formatted data from internal storage on over 6,000 Android phones and tablets running at least Android 4.0. The software lets you preview files found in the scan, so you can review the details before recovering them. It even lets you view contact details, rotate images, and read chats to make sure they’re what you want to keep.
Although Stellar doesn’t state why it made its Android version free but chose to charge for its iPhone version, it is still one of the cheaper options for iPhones overall. It also seems pretty thorough in what it can do. It can recover chat messages from several of the major chat services, as well as Safari bookmarks, call history, contacts, photos, videos, and it can even perform a deep scan on the basis of a file signature. It can access iCloud Backup files and even encrypted iTunes Backup files. This version of Stellar works on iPhones all the way back to iPhone 4s, and it’s compatible with Windows and MacOS computers.
The Most Experience in Mobile Data Recovery: Wondershare Dr.Fone
Wondershare Dr.Fone has options for both Android ($39.95 per year, or $49.95 for lifetime access) and iOS ($59.95 per year, or $69.95 for lifetime access). The brand was the first to release data recovery software for iPhones and Android devices to the public over eight years ago. The three-step data recovery software can be installed on either Windows computers (running at least Windows XP) or Macs (running at least MacOS 10.8).
The Android version claims it can recover all data types, no matter how you lost it. It is compatible with over 6,000 Android devices, including those by Google, Motorola, LG, OnePlus, Huawei, Sony, Samsung, and Xiaomi, as long as they’re running Android 2.1 or higher.
The iPhone version is a little more robust, luckily. It can recover all of the same types of files as the version for Android can, regardless of how the data loss scenario. However, it can also scan for and recover files on your iTunes and iCloud accounts in addition to your device. Dr.Fone can run on iPhone 4 or newer, all types of iPads, and iPod touch 4 and 5. The iPhone version also lets you preview data and select what you want to keep before recovering it, saving you time. Lost data can be restored right back on your device.