When you delete a file from an Android phone, it doesn’t completely disappear right away. It stays in your phone’s storage until new stuff takes its place. This can be a problem because someone could use special software to get back the files you thought you deleted. That’s not good for your privacy.
But don’t worry! If you have an Android 6 or newer phone (like Marshmallow), your phone is automatically protected. Nobody can get those deleted files back because they’re all scrambled up. But if you’re still concerned about personal files getting into the wrong hands, we can show you how to make sure your deleted stuff is gone forever.
1. Delete Items Using File Manager
The worst way to delete a personal or private file on your Android phone comes from the app concerned. This risks being permanently deleted or moved to the Trash or Bin without syncing to the cloud.
For example, the Google Photos app stores deleted photos and videos for 60 days unless you dump your trash. After that, things will remain in your Google Account even if you leave it by selecting Remove from the device.
The best way to get rid of sensitive stuff for good is to delete it from File Explorer or a file manager app. And there are many free apps for checking and deleting files on Android, including Google’s file system.
Select an item in your File Explorer. Then, click the Trash button or tap the three-dot menu and select Delete. Ensure that you cannot undo a deletion, and then click Delete again. That is how you should delete files on Android.
2. Delete Data with File Shredder
If your phone’s security doesn’t make sure deleted files can’t come back, or if you’re using an older Android version. Think about getting a special tool called a “file cleaner.” This tool will make sure the space where your deleted stuff was stored is completely cleaned up and can’t be used again.
File shredders such as Shredder, Shreddit, and Data Eraser provide alternative split algorithms. It allows you to set how the data is written with random letters. Each override is called a “pass” or “cycle.”
You need to grant these apps access to your files, but it’s not recommended to share your contacts with them. The apps will remain inactive until you give permission.
3. Clear Space Using a Data Eraser
Here’s how to make deleted data irreversible using Shredder File Data Eraser. Unfortunately, naming it as Android Eraser in the app itself is confusing.
On the Home screen, tap FreeSpace (be careful not to turn it off completely!) and select Internal Storage. The app calculates how much free space to free up.
Press Continue and select the cutting algorithm. The NATO standard and the BSU TL-0342, which make seven and eight passes, respectively, are discreet. However, they also take time.
Make sure you want to continue, and deleting the data will erase all the free space on your phone, so you will no longer have the files you deleted.
Your phone will slow down while the erasing process continues. However, you can leave it at any time by opening the notification at the top of your screen and pressing Cancel.
Although Data Eraser doesn’t charge a fee to clear free space on your phone, you can split up to 100MB of separate files per day for free. Upgrading to the paid version for $4.99 eliminates this limitation.
Credits are a unique free method, but they may block ads and not work on Android 11.
4. Delete Android Files from Your PC
If you don’t want to put a new app on your phone to delete files forever, you can plug your Android phone into your computer and use Windows to erase the data. This way, you can easily find and get rid of stuff you don’t want using File Explorer.
Connect your Android phone to your computer with a USB cable. To view files, select “Open device to view files” in the Autoplay option or open File Explorer, select “This PC,” and double-click your phone’s Drive icon.
If you plug in the drive and it seems like there’s nothing on it, you can do this:
- Open the notification tray by swiping down from the top of your mobile screen and selecting “USB transfer” or “File transfer” for your device.
Browse through your phone’s folder to find the File you want to delete. For example, if it’s a photo or video, it’s in the DCIM > Camera folder.
To delete an item, simply right-click on it, select the Delete option, and confirm your decision. Please note that once you delete a file, it will not be sent to the Windows Recycle Bin and will be permanently lost. If you are looking for a secure way to wipe all the data from your phone, this is a reliable option.
5. Delete Sensitive Files on the SD Card
If the secret File you want to delete found in the SD card memory instead of your phone’s internal storage, there are several ways to delete it.
First, go to Settings -> Storage -> SD Card.
Locate the File and delete it there. But, this does not make it irreversible, so you may want to format the memory card. That will completely erase your content, so make sure you have saved any files on your phone first.
Tap on the three dots in the top right corner and choose Storage Settings. Select Format, and then press Clear and format or Format SD card to erase and format the card.
Alternatively, you can connect your Android cellphone to a PC or insert the SD card into your computer card reader as described above. However, before removing it from your device, you must first “download” it by choosing to shrink or eject the card.
Browse SD card contents in File Explorer, locate the File, right-click on it, and choose Delete.
Some Android shredder apps can shred, transform, and delete data stored on the SD card (see Tip 2 above).
6. Restore Your Phone to Factory Settings
The most challenging way to permanently delete private files is to reset a factory. It is best to delete all the data on your phone.
Ensuring the permanent deletion of sensitive data from your Android phone is crucial for safeguarding your privacy. While newer Android versions offer some protection by scrambling deleted files, additional steps can be taken for added security. Using File Explorer or a file manager app to delete files is a recommended practice. For older Android versions or extra assurance, consider using file shredder apps that overwrite deleted data.
Data eraser apps can also be valuable tools to make deleted data irreversible. These apps offer various algorithms for secure deletion, ensuring that no traces of deleted data remain on your device.
If you prefer not to install additional apps, you can connect your Android phone to your PC and delete files using File Explorer. Remember that files deleted in this manner are permanently lost and not sent to the Windows Recycle Bin.