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Help Android: All Photos and Camera Album Disappear! Help, Please!



Hi everyone please help me out if you can, it would be much appreciated!

As by the title I'm sure a lot of us are facing this more common than you think issue, and sorry that this comes across as a bit of a rant. It's just there seems to be no explanation as to why this happens in which your phone shouldn't just one day decide to remove an entire year or two of important events documented. I know I should have backed it up. But my phone doesn't get recognised by the kies software and my Drop Box has been full for a while and I haven't encountered this issue since changing over phone to my current S4.

The story goes that I have had two Samsung phones in the last three years. When I swapped over from a S3 to a S4 I ended up with two camera folders. Photos from my old phone and another folder for the new photos. Now at some point last year I went to check my gallery to show a photo to someone when I noticed the whole camera folder disappeared, I was able to find they were all in my DCIM folder in 'My Files' and for some reason the camera must changed the storage from internal to the SD card.

Now fast track to today.... I went to show someone a picture from my phone from a couple weeks back and went to the Camera folder with all my new photos (it has 200 photos - not a lot but still important) and all the photos inside were black with the broken image thumbnail for everything!

I went to the DCIM folder and nothing was there except for all the really old photos from my old phone. I restarted my phone, went back to the Gallery app and this entire Camera folder was gone! Like it never existed and only the old Camera folder was there except these new photos I had taken from the last 3 days or so were in this folder which they should've been in the other 'new photos' camera folder.

I got the ES File Explorer app and clicked the 'show hidden files' and the only trace I could find of these missing photos were in a hidden '.thumbnails' folder inside the DCIM folder - which all my photos and missing photos are here except they are all just thumbnails and blurry.

If someone could please provide a way to locate the actual files (and not the thumbnails) and let me know on a way to copy/export them from my phone so I can back them up on an external hard drive and learn my lesson to back up always. You'd would be an absolute life saver!!!! I'm not extremely tech savvy but if someone has a solution I will be prepared to try it or get my more savvier friends to have a go.
Were the pictures on the internal storage or removable card? It's not clear since you talk about "the camera" changing the location (in quotes because while it may not be clear how/why this changed, it wasn't a whim on the part of the app).

If they were on the removable card it's easy: pull it out, stick it in a card reader and run some file recovery software on a computer. Don't use the card in the meanwhile as you may overwrite data. The main worry would be that the card might fail totally before you can do this (since the disappearance of the folder could be a sign of impending card failure), so if this works back them up immediately.

If internal it's much less likely you can recover them. Occasionally people talk of doing it, but verified accounts with descriptions of what they used are hard to find.
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Hi Hadron,

Thanks for the reply! From what it looks like the images I found on that thumbnails folder that I thought were the missing images are actually photos from a third party app called 'Silent Camera Soft' which all the photos are still there in their own album in the Gallery - but are not the same missing 200 photos from the entire Camera album in the gallery.

By camera folder I meant that when you go into the gallery app there are two albums called Camera- one from my old phone (S3) and another from my current phone.

I'm not sure what it was set to before (and sure I have never touched the settings) but right now the Camera storage is set to internal storage so maybe my S3 Camera album might of overwritten the S4 (current phone) Camera album I was using for the past year and is why all my photos from the last week were ending up in my S3's Camera album instead of the one it normally goes to - but that's just my theory.

So it probably looks like these photos are completely lost. I also already used the memory card last night to copy some of the remaining images onto, so that option sort of looks like it's out the question which was my mistake but I'll definitely try look at the SD later. But do you think if nothing is showing up on the SD card by accessing it through the ES File Explorer then the photos are probably not there at all.

I'm just still at a lost as to why it happened and how to prevent it except to just create a way to backup up all the remaining images to not run into this issue again.

Thanks again for your quick reply! I'll try it out but I'm coming to the conclusion to just let it go and that my lesson is learnt ;)
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