How do I recover permanently deleted voice recordings?

Permanently deleted voice recordings refer to audio files recorded on a device like a phone or voice recorder that have been erased in a way that they do not end up in the recycle bin or Recently Deleted folder. Common scenarios where voice recordings may get permanently deleted include:

– Accidental deletion by the user [1]

– A malware or virus attack corrupting device storage [1]

– Buggy apps mishandling recordings [1]

– Intentional deletion and emptying the Recently Deleted folder

The likelihood of recovering permanently deleted recordings depends on the device type, operating system, and deletion method. The sooner recovery is attempted after deletion, the better the chances. However, specialized data recovery software makes it possible to recover even weeks-old deleted recordings from devices like iPhones and Android phones.

Check Recently Deleted Folder

On many smart devices and recording apps, deleted files are temporarily stored in a “Recently Deleted” folder before being permanently removed. For iPhone voice memos, go to the Voice Memos app and tap on the “Recently Deleted” folder at the bottom to view deleted recordings [1]. Tap and hold on a recording to select it, then tap “Recover” to restore it. To recover everything, tap “Recover All.”

For Android devices, open the Voice Recorder app, go to Menu > Deleted recordings to access deleted files. Long press on a recording and select “Restore” to recover it back to the main recordings list. You typically have around 30 days to restore deleted recordings before they are permanently deleted.

Checking the Recently Deleted folder can quickly recover accidentally deleted files that are less than a month old. However, it is not a solution for long-term deleted files.

Use File Recovery Software

There are specialized file recovery apps available for phones, computers, and cloud storage that can help recover deleted voice recordings. These apps work by scanning the storage media to locate files marked for deletion that can still be restored.

Some top options include:

To use these apps, first download and install them on your device. Then run a scan on the storage location where deleted files were originally saved. After the scan completes, preview and select the audio files you wish to recover. Finally, specify a folder to save the recovered voice recordings.

Restore from Backups

One of the best ways to recover deleted voice recordings is to restore them from a backup. Both iPhone and Android devices allow you to backup your data, including recordings, to external sources like iCloud, Google Drive, or iTunes. These backups often store previous versions of files, even ones you may have deleted from the device itself.

To restore deleted recordings from an iCloud backup on an iPhone, go to Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups. Then select the backup you want to restore from and tap Restore. Your deleted recordings should reappear. You can also restore from iTunes backups made via cable connection to a computer running the iTunes app.

For Android devices, open the Google Drive app, tap Backups, and select the backup containing the deleted recordings. Tap Restore to recover the files. Some Android devices also allow local backups viewable in Settings that can be restored the same way.

The key is locating the right historical backup that contains the recordings before they were deleted. As backups tend to save multiple versions over time, you may be able to recover recordings deleted days or even weeks ago by restoring an older backup.

Recover from Cloud Storage

Many cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive keep previous versions of files and have a recycle bin that retains deleted files for a period of time. This gives you a chance to recover files you may have accidentally deleted.

To recover deleted files from cloud storage:

  • Log into your cloud storage account and check if there is a Recycle Bin or Deleted Files folder. Restoring files from here may be as simple as right-clicking and selecting “Restore”.
  • Go to the settings or preferences and look for file versioning options. Some services keep file versions going back 30 days or more, allowing you to restore a previous version.
  • Use the official mobile app for services like Google Drive and OneDrive which include recovery options not available on the web interface.
  • Check the website of your cloud provider for instructions on recovering deleted files. For example, Apple provides steps for recovering files from iCloud.

With timely action, you can often restore accidentally deleted files from cloud storage. However, most cloud services will permanently delete files after a set time, so act quickly.

Use Data Recovery Services

If you have tried all of the previous methods to recover your deleted voice recordings to no avail, using a data recovery service may be your last resort. Professional data recovery companies have specialized expertise and tools to handle difficult recovery cases where standard consumer-grade software fails.

Data recovery services like Geek Squad can recover lost or deleted data from hard drives, USB drives, SD cards, and other storage devices. Their capabilities often go beyond what average users can achieve alone. However, even professional data recovery comes with limitations. If the deleted files were overwritten or the storage device suffered physical damage, recovery may still be impossible.

Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to over $1000 for professional data recovery services, depending on the complexity of the job. Creative Audio Works charges $75/hour with a $49.99 initial fee for recovering deleted audio files. More extensive recovery jobs generally cost more. Manage your expectations, as data recovery is not always successful even when you pay a premium.

Prevent Future Deletion

To avoid permanently losing voice recordings in the future, it’s important to implement proactive backup solutions. Here are some best practices:

Enable cloud syncing services like iCloud or Google Photos to automatically back up recordings from your phone. This provides an extra copy stored remotely in case of accidental deletion. Just make sure you have enough cloud storage space for all your recordings. See this Amazon Connect blog for more tips.

Make duplicates of important recordings and save them in separate locations like external drives or cloud storage. That way if one copy gets deleted, you have a backup. Some apps let you automatically duplicate to multiple destinations.

Frequently back up your recordings to create restore points you can revert to if needed. Don’t let months go by without archiving them somewhere safe. Consider setting calendar reminders to regularly transfer recordings off your phone.

Overall, avoiding permanent data loss requires proactive redundancy through regular automated backups and manual duplication. See resources like this CNET article for more tips on locking down your privacy.

Prioritize Recovering Recent Files

It’s important to act quickly when trying to recover recently deleted voice recordings. The longer you wait, the higher the chances that the storage space occupied by the deleted files will be overwritten with new data, making recovery impossible (1).

When a file is deleted, it isn’t immediately erased from the storage device. Instead, the operating system marks the space occupied by the deleted file as available for new data. Until new data physically overwrites the deleted file, recovery is possible (1,2). However, the available space could be rewritten at any time as you continue to use your device.

Therefore, for the best chance of recovering accidentally deleted voice recordings, take action immediately. Use file recovery software or professional data recovery services to attempt to retrieve the files before they have been overwritten. The sooner you act, the higher the likelihood of successful recovery (1,2). But once the deleted files’ disk space is reused, it becomes much more difficult if not impossible to get those recordings back.

In summary, time is of the essence when undeleting recently deleted voice recordings. Quick action gives you the best shot at recovering your lost files before they are permanently overwritten.



When All Else Fails

Unfortunately, permanent data loss is a real possibility that you may have to accept. Even professional data recovery services cannot guarantee recovering deleted files. The recordings you lost may simply be unrecoverable through any technical means.

It can be extremely difficult to cope with permanent data loss. The psychological and emotional impact should not be underestimated. Feelings of grief, anxiety, anger, and depression are common reactions. Don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling if you are struggling to process these emotions.

While the lost recordings cannot be replaced, try to focus on celebrating and appreciating what you do still remember. The most meaningful parts of those experiences live on in your memories. Reminisce with loved ones who were there and look through any photos you may still have. Though the recordings are gone, the memories they captured don’t have to be.

Moving forward, be vigilant about regularly backing up important data to prevent this type of permanent loss. But don’t dwell on what’s lost forever – the most meaningful parts still remain.


Recovering permanently deleted voice recordings can seem daunting at first, but this guide outlines several useful strategies you can try. The key is to act quickly before the files are fully overwritten. Your best chance of success is to check the Recently Deleted folder, use file recovery software, and restore from any backups you have.

The more time passes, the lower your odds of full recovery. But even partial recovery or just the metadata can provide clues. Cloud storage and professional data recovery services offer more options when all else fails. While there’s no guarantee, by methodically trying multiple approaches you can hopefully recover those lost recordings.

The next step is to safeguard your files going forward. Enable backups, avoid bulk deletions, and be careful before confirming permanent deletes. With some diligence, you can avoid this situation and ensure your important voice recordings remain accessible when needed. Don’t abandon hope, try the strategies outlined here, and you may be pleasantly surprised what can be recovered.

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