New micro SD - move files wizard - all pictures/videos are gone - camera malfunction

Hi community!

I installed a new 128 GB SanDisk Ultra micro SD card. (Fairphone 3 - original ROM - default google- photo app)
Android asked me how to access the card and I chooed “expand internal storage”.
Android asked me if I would like to move files from the internal storage to the SD card and I choose “yes” ( to be honest I thought that he will ask for the content that should be moved but … nope… He immediately started to move various files and apps)
After this process I noticed that all existing pictures and videos are gone
I noticed that WhatsApp had no more access to the media-files
I noticed that the Camera can no longer takes pictures and videos…

I’ ve seen different posts here but I nearly lost 400 pictures and need some advice how I can try to recover them.(Google backup is not used)
(What’s app backup should be working but I won’t want to access the SD card as long as I don’t know what has happened)

Best regards

Welcome to our forum community (although it’s not under the happiest circumstances you are arriving here).

You might have read in other posts that most of us regulars here strongly recommend to format the SD card as portable storage, not phone storage (“expand internal storage”) – we keep reading reports like yours. But now that it’s already happened in your case, it’s a bit difficult for us to provide precise advice because, well, most of us have no own experience with how to recover files lost or hidden in that situation.

One thought nevertheless: Have you tried to establish a USB connection (“data transfer”) to your computer? You have probably checked the DCIM folder(s) where photos are usually saved to?


I checked the DCIM Folder with the integrated file explorer so far.
as soon as my ubuntu is up and running I will try the USB-cable and Cardreader workflow


I’m comfortable with photorec and other stuff on Linux but I’m not sure if these techniques really help. I’m optimistic and will give it a try and report back.


Maybe I missed that message in my previous queries. Would you mind to give me a hyperlink to the appropriate post?
I own a second FP3 and don’t want to make the same extra- steps (the second phone’s files have a backup - too bad that these issues always happen to people’s phones that are non-security-experts) :wink:

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I think the following guide explains the basic differences. To avoid confusion (different terms keep being used in various languages and also sometimes between different Android versions): “Internal storage” is now usually referred to as “phone storage”, “external storage” is now called “portable storage”.


Once formatted internally the SD card will be encrypted along with deafualt memory so you will not be able to read it outside of the phone.

I suggest you use adb and do a complete file search for *.jpg and see what you can find


yeah… just figured out that the content is encrypted.
@urs_lesse mentioned a great thread with several possible solutions - I will try how they work.
beginneng with the following workaround:

  1. eject sd card
  2. shutdown - restart without SD
  3. shutdown - insert SD and boot

***** didn’t work :frowning: *****

I have also involved Fariphone Support to get things in the right order. In the meantim I will configure my ADB access on ubuntu and mabye FP-Support is telling to give it a try.
in the meantime I will try to avoid any write-access to the system (as far this is possible…)


Good day fellow-Fairphone-users! :mobile_phone_off:

I didn’t touch the system very intense.
But I do know the following:

  • the extended internal storage is encrypted
  • photorec can not access the USB-connected Fairphone as source
  • photorec can not access the Fairphone using “USB-debugging” mode
  • I double checked the content on the phone using ubuntu, windows file-explorer and ABD-shell - still no media file listed and no way to copy hidden files from the regarding folder-structure

Maybe someone can tell me, how to mount the FP3-device in ubunto as a dirve so I can give phtorec a try?

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You can’t, this access method to an Android phone was removed from Android long ago (the internet tells me since Android 4).
For an explanation see the top answer here … filesystems - How to mount an Android smartphone as a drive in Windows? - Super User


I was afraid of this reply :joy:

another dangerous fact that makes the enduser believe that everything should work as expected, was the process of Android running a quick check of the SD-card in regards of performance and size prior the “migration” wizard pops asks the critical question

→ once the user believes, that the card sucessfully passed all checks, some users would, without any serious suspicion, use the next step to “move files”… to the “internal” storage…

pictures referenced from How to Use SD Card as Internal Storage in Android (Easy Steps, No Root) - YouTube

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UPDATE:today night I was planning to reinstall the whole mobile phone because I also tried “easy-tools” to recover files like recuva or AndroidApps (DiscDigger) that promise a restoration of internal file (all of these apps were not able to find any of the existing files.

but it can still be worse… I now also noticed that the automatic “Google Drive Backup” within WhatsApp overwrited the existing full backup - hence I’m afraid that I have also lost all pictures that has been shared and received within WhatsApp. - If this is the case and you run into the same issues:
:pray: :pray: please go sure to instantly freeze the existing google drive backup (if enabled) by disabling the WLAN and mobile-data connection!

UPDATE: fairphone support reached out again and this gave me ability to access the serviceRequest again. I was able to close my request accordingly (no support for recovery but friendly advices how to get my device up and running with the SD card (as external storage) by using the “factory-reset” feature.
in the meantime everything is working again (without pictures) and I had to recover a lot of pictures from existing WhatsApp backups (minimizing the gap of missing pictures to 4-5 month).
using the micro SD as external storage works perfectly fine (due to the fact that many of the apps support external storages - most messenger wont do ;( )
In case there is no further feedback this will be the last post in this thread.

Ah! I didn’t really notice, but for example I move any media from WhatsApp to the portable SD and delete conversations about once a week. No wonder people try to expand internal memory if they keep all their chats etc. :recycle: or :wastebasket: used chats

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Indeed! you’re right! ( in terms of unencrypted media-exports)

The fully encrypted media-files (WhatsApp, Threema, Signal) by default are only stored in the internal memory.

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Yes thanks for the ‘reminder’ I hadn’t really thought of that :blush: and I have all three and not Telegram are you ready my thoughts :slight_smile:

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now I got you

I think that problem will always be a problem for those users that try to explore a hundred doors that look the same . but that’s the kind of end-users I am struggling with … but… I’m trying to tell them who they are
(update:) by trying to get them all moving to Signal-messenger (and having them to understand all of it’s options and possibilities)

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