At Flashback Data, we get many calls about recovering lost data from mobile devices (phones and tablets). Phones and tablets are two of the most commonly used devices in the world today, and carry an unthinkable amount of our data – from photos and videos, to our private messages and search history. Understandably, these clients are often the most devastated clients when they call us with a significant data loss. Smartphone and tablet memory works very differently than other devices, so it surprises many people to hear that common, everyday practices are what led to their data loss.
We put together this article to detail the do’s and don’ts of mobile device data – some of these may surprise you, but we suspect there are a couple you’ve known all along (and it’s time to get with the program). Follow these tips in order to prevent a catastrophic data loss that could leave your heart or your business sidelined in a major way.
Mobile Device Do’s
1. Sign up with a cloud backup service
This is the most important recommendation on our list. Sign up with a cloud backup service that automatically updates its backup and automatically charges your operating expenses. This ensures that no matter what’s going on with your device, a very recent digital copy of your data is safe and ready to re-download. If you’re an Apple device user, you can easily use their iCloud service. For Android users, a Google backup service would be an easy fit.
We often hear that people are nervous and suspicious of cloud services, usually citing that they don’t want Google or Apple reviewing their private data, or hackers getting into their data and using it. There is a misconception around all of this that we’d like to dissolve. If you’re reading this article, it is extremely unlikely that you are a target for a data breach.
Simply put – we are not that important. Hackers and allegedly malicious employees of cloud services do not waste time on targets without a certainty of the data they’re profiting from. Think of it this way – would a robber risk breaking into a house if there’s no way to know anything of value is inside? Most all of us fall into this category when it comes to our backed up data.
Once you’ve signed up with a cloud service that meets your needs, check it monthly to make sure your bill is paid and your data is being upload properly. That way, if you’ve gotten disconnected from the service, you’ve only lost a few weeks of data at most. If you have any monthly checklists – like going through your bills, conducting expense reports, etc. – checking your backups is a great candidate to add to your monthly responsibilities.
2. Back up before any system updates
One of our most frequent data recovery questions surrounds iPhones and boot loops – a failure called Error 14. This can happen when your iPhone downloads its own system updates, but your phone is overfull with too much data. It crashes your phone, causing it to power up and down in a loop. This is an unrecoverable situation, so if your data isn’t backed up, that’s it – all of your mobile device data is gone.
It’s impossible for you to know how our phone or tablet is going to respond to a system update outside of whether or not you have enough room to download it. Most of the time, everything is fine, and after a few minutes you’re back to using our phone, but plenty of people experience data loss from system updates that were fine for everyone else. Sometimes, unfinished or disastrous system updates are released, and many people lose their data as a result.
If you are someone who takes tons of photos, and regularly has a close-to-full phone, or if you don’t know much about phone technology, we highly recommend turning off your auto-update settings to prevent something like this from happening. This will make the phone or tablet notify you when an update is going to happen in the near future, so you’ll have time to double-check your back-ups and make some space on device.
3. Keep 10 GB available on your phone
For the reasons we listed above, always make sure your mobile device has some space on it. It is often running updates and downloading data in the background that you might be unaware of, all of which runs the risk of corrupting your phone if you don’t have enough free space. Your phone may advertise that it has 128 GB of space, for example, but our techs at Flashback Data would agree that you shouldn’t fill it over 115.
4. Invest in a water and shatter-proof case
Here is an uncomfortable truth: water damage and impact damage are fully avoidable. Yep, you read it here, and we stand by it. We’re not saying we have a running tally of how many times we hear “I know I should have a waterproof case, but, my kid spilled liquid on my tablet and shorted It”… but we certainly could.
Reputable water and shatter preventative cases do run a bit pricier than your typical silicone sleeve, but $50 is nothing when it comes to our minimum mobile device recovery fee ($399) or an uninsured phone replacement (up to over a grand!).
Don’t know where to start? Here are some examples of high quality brands that make fantastic, reliable phone cases.
Flashback Data is not affiliated with any of these brands – we’re merely showcasing examples of brands on the market that make the quality of cases you’re looking for. We are not responsible for any manufacturer issues or customer satisfaction on these products.
5. Use high quality charging and connector cables from your device manufacturer, or from a manufacturer-recommended vendor
Low quality connector cables are a huge reason that customers come to us for data recovery. Low quality cables can cause electrical shortages in your phone, rendering it unusable and potentially corrupting your data. These cheap connector cables can also corrupt your data, and they’re easy to break and tear, making a data transfer easy to interrupt (which can often lead to a phone failure). Invest in cables that are directly from your device manufacturer, or are recommended by the manufacturer.
Apple has a program in particular to certify other vendors for use on their products, called the MFI Certification. Through this process vendors can assure their consumers that their products are fully safe to use with Apple products. This sort of certification program doesn’t exist for all mobile devices, but it’s worth reading reviews to make sure your components don’t compromise your data.
Mobile Device Don’ts
1. Fill your device storage
As we mentioned above, there are tons of risks associated with filling up your phone. This doesn’t leave any room for the device to download system or application updates, take photos and videos, or run its own operating system. You may notice that your phone “stutters” – applications lock up during use or take a long time to open, apps and videos close without warning, or you find yourself having to restart your phone on a regular basis. Keeping your mobile device stuffed to its limit with data is practically begging for a memory failure.
We understand that a lot of people want all of their photos and videos in one device, ready to review and reminisce at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, this is the most common risky behavior we see when it comes to our customers with crashed phones. We highly encourage you to embrace using a cloud service or online photo album service to store all of your picture and video archives. When you want to take a walk down memory lane, they’ll be waiting for you.
2. Put your device in rice
Putting your phone in rice is a popular, but often destructive approach to trying to reverse water damage. While technically, yes, this method will dry out your phone, but it can do so in a very harmful way that make matters worse. The way rice interacts with exposure to electronics can cause more damage than you already have, leading to corruption of your data and damage to your motherboard.
If your device has been exposed to liquid and is damaged as a result, zip it up in a bag with a slightly damp sponge, and take it to a repair shop immediately. This will allow the liquid to be extracted from the device without corroding any of the components through over-drying.
3. Take your device swimming
We’ve seen the commercials. Someone is basking in the ocean with their smartphone or enjoying drinks in a pool, taking underwater photos to commemorate their summer vacations and spring breaks. These people live seemingly worry and risk-free, drinking beer and making funny faces underwater for social media photos.
Don’t be those people.
A recurring call we receive is customers who are upset because they thought their phone was water proof, so they took it in the pool or to the beach, and now it won’t turn on. Your smart phone is never going to be “water proof”. It is water resistant. It is water resistant in clear, clean water with no currents or waves.
Pools and hot tubs are full of chemicals that aren’t meant to be exposed to electronics. The ocean is full of salt and sediments, which ruin electronic components on contact.
There are certainly reputable waterproof cases that will allow you to submerge your phones and tablets in different bodies of water, but as we all know, even the best brands do not carry a 100% success rate. We recommend being safe over sorry – do not bring your devices swimming with you.
4. Use cheap or unsanctioned accessories
Using convenience store charging cables is a sure-fire ticket to losing your data. These cheaply made cables can fray easily, or may have components that aren’t well-fit to your device.
This will lead to data transfer interruptions (which can corrupt your device), electrical shorts, and other disasters that will come at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Invest in high quality accessories to ensure the safety of your data.
5. Try to guess your PIN
If you’ve forgotten your PIN or passcode, do not try to guess it over and over. Find a way to confirm what that PIN is, or get in touch with support to find out what your options are.
Entering a password or PIN repeatedly is the fastest way to lose your data forever. Too many incorrect entries will permanently “brick” your device, making it useless and rendering your data destroyed. This is often referred to as the device being in “Disabled Mode”. It is a security feature implemented in order to make the phone as secure as possible for anyone – from politician to technology executive,
By following these easy suggestions, you’ll be a world apart from most of the customers who come to us with a mobile device data crisis. In the event you do have a crisis and need your phone or tablet data recovered, give us a call at 866.786.5700.