This is your best hope for recovering photos from a lost or stolen phone

Greta Flederbach lost her Samsung Galaxy 5. She asked if there’s any way she can recover the photos on it. My answer isn’t exclusive to that phone.

Assuming you have a smartphone, there’s a very good chance that your photos are in the cloud somewhere. But with an old-fashioned cell phone, the chances are pretty much nil.

I assume you’ve already tried the obvious—using another phone to call yours, and listen for the ring. But that won’t help if the phone is really lost, so let’s concentrate on where, aside from your phone, those photos may be.

If you’re trying to retrieve photos from a phone still in your possession, you may want to read my February article on that subject.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to [email protected].]

Today’s smartphones can upload your photos automatically to the cloud. Whether your phone actually did that depends on two things:

  1. If that was the phone’s default setting.
  2. If you changed that setting.

On an Android phone, the uploaded photos probably uploaded to Google Drive. (I say probably because phone manufacturers like to change Android’s default settings.) To see if you’re in luck, open your browser of choice to Google Drive. Click the big blue Go to Google Drive button in the center. If you’re not logged onto your Google account (which could be your Youtube or Gmail account), you’ll have to log in with your password. Once there, click Google Photos in the left pane. If your photos are there, you’re in luck.

iOS behaves in a similar way. Your photos have likely been uploaded to iCloud.

2 Comments
  1. Reply Rebecca K. 06.09.2016 at 20:03

    Google photos is a good option but not the best. When my tab crashed and i thought i lost tons of pix i found em all stored on my g-account. But when i downloaded em onto my pc i realised they all were of a bad quality, the resolution wasn`t the same, alas…

  2. Reply Cain 06.09.2016 at 20:33

    I had to get rid of the google photos app as it is too annoying when every single pic you take goes to internet. I don`t wanna everyone to see my stuff and im just not bothered to do something about settings.

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