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Disappearing Photographs on my Samsung Galaxy S4 Android Phone

This summer we (my Wife, daughters and I) went on a marvellous holiday for a couple of weeks which was well recorded on a variety of cameras and camcorders. However, even though I have a good Digital SLR which I took a couple of thousand pictures on, it doesn’t include GPS – and being quite large I didn’t always have it with me.

So, camera phone to the rescue! My Samsung Galaxy S4 is always with me and of course captures the GPS location on every photo. Perfect!

Except that it started to complain a little about uploading images to “The Cloud”. I tried using various free Wi-Fi hotspots, but nothing improved the situation.

Then the images started disappearing. I noticed that images I had taken that day were still viewable in the Gallery application, but the next day they had gone. Also, the thumbnails would disappear from the tile view instead being shown as grey squares with a head/torso icon. I would show you a screenshot but, although I took them (always thoughts of the next article) they disappeared just like all the photos.

I am currently using Microsoft OneDrive – and at first, I assumed that was the culprit. What else could it be? However, when I switched to Google Drive and, later Drop Box, it was just as bad. The photos still disappeared. So, I continued to take pictures while, in the odd spare moment, trying various changes and tweaks – including, as I said, different Cloud backup services.

Once we returned home, I assumed I’d have a better chance of solving the problem.

Now, in the past, I have used a marvellous application called PhotoRec (http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec) to recover lost photos from SD cards and disk drives and it usually works a treat. I gave it a try. It found nothing. The images were definitely gone.

As an aside, although PhotoRec didn’t recognise any valid images, (not the ones that were missing, anyway) when I look on any of the Cloud backup systems (and in the Photo App on the Phone) I see lots of “.jpg” files that can’t be opened as images. Clearly, the photos are being corrupted beyond recognition.

In the end I resorted to scouring the web with Google and finally came across one or two forums which hinted that the fault lay with the Micro SD card. Apparently, SanDisk Micro SD cards can often be damaged by high temperatures in the phone.

Hmmm, that was going to be an expensive fix… but I needed to know and I needed to use my phone’s camera again, so I stumped up the cash and, following the recommendations bought the Samsung Micro SD card – specifically, Samsung Grade 1 Class 10 64GB Evo Micro SDXC Memory Card with SD Adapter.

Well, once it arrived, I installed it –

  1. Went in the settings and un-mounted the card – not sure if this is necessary, but it seemed sensible…
  2. Turned the phone off
  3. Opened the phone and removed the old (SanDisk) Micro SD card.
  4. Fitted the Micro SD card into a normal size SD card holder (one came with the new Samsung Micro SD card).
  5. Inserted the card into my laptop and copied everything onto a folder onto the hard disk.
  6. Removed the card and swapped in the new Samsung Micro SD card.
  7. Inserted the new card (in its holder) into my laptop and copied the files back on to it.
  8. Then removed the Samsung Micro SD card from my laptop and its holder.
  9. Put the Samsung Micro SD card in my phone.
  10. Turned the phone on.

Sorted. I took a few photos of random stuff to check (OK so far) but waited a couple of days before I was certain.

Fixed. I am now able to take photos and videos without a problem.

Now, I’m not saying there is anything particularly problematic with SanDisk SD cards – or Samsung Galaxy S4s for that matter – and I’m not saying the Samsung Micro SD card is especially wonderful, but replacing the one with the other has definitely solved the problem.

Next, I need to try and recover what I can of the photos…

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