I have a Microsoft Lumia XL 950 with Windows 10 as Operating System, accidentally was restored I want to know if is posible to recover my files. I downloaded a lot of tools for recover them, but all these tools never have seen my device as drive. Can i do something or sadly not? Thanks!!


2 Answers 2


Yes you can the first to do when you delete files is to stop using the device. Now the method of recovering the data is different based on which disk the data was. If it was on an external SD card then you can download software like EaseUS and plug the SD card to your PC via an adapter or into the slot and the run the software to scan the SD card. If it was on the phone then it is a little more difficult. You might have to look around a bit to find a software on your Pc that is capable of scanning the phones internal file system in order to recover our data.

Most data recovery software list in their features about being able to recover from the external SD cards. More advanced methods for the internal memory include having developer access to the device.


As Josh correctly noted, it's possible to recover files off the SD card using conventional data recovery software, though you'll need to remove the card from the phone first and connect it directly to the computer. Bear in mind that app files stored on the SD card (anything under the hidden WPSystem directory, which is where apps get installed to and their isolated data storage directories are created, if the app is installed to the SD card instead of the internal storage) are encrypted. You won't be able to recover the contents of those files if the OS has been restored or hard-reset.

The claim that there exist tools to recover files off the internal storage is, as far as I know, currently false. They could exist, but it would be tricky.

To do it on-phone:

  • You'd need a jailbroken phone. Normal app sandboxes don't have enough privileges to perform the low-level storage access needed for file recovery. Fortunately, jailbreaking W10M is pretty easy; tools for this are available on the XDA-Developers forum (look for Interop Tools).
  • You need some recovery software that has been re-compiled for the phone. Normal Windows software won't run on the phone for many reasons, one of which is that it is compiled for the x86/x64 CPUs in desktop/laptop computers, not the ARM CPUs in phones. You'd probably need the source code to such a program, and also a working build toolchain for native "desktop" apps on the phone (you can modify the free Visual Studio Community Edition build configurations to allow this, though it takes a little effort).
  • You need a program that can be run purely from the command line, or else somebody to re-write the UI of the program to run in a Windows Store-type app. The phone does not have the normal Windows GUI toolkits; you simply cannot compile a "normal" graphical Windows app for the phone. If your program runs from the command line, though, you can use a remote shell (telnet, ssh, etc.) to launch and control the program from a command-line interface on your computer (or possibly in a phone app, if you're really masochistic).

To do it from a PC:

  • You'd need to boot the phone in USB Mass Storage mode. The usual USB mode the phone uses, MTP, does NOT allow any kind of direct access to the storage devices; the file system it shows is entirely an artifact of the MTP service and may not even reflect the real file system accurately.
  • Doing this is possible for some early WP8.x phones (some of which later received upgrades to W10M), but not including the Lumis 950 XL (or any other phone that came with W10M).
  • To do this, unlock the bootloader using the WPInternals tool, obtaining an "engineering" bootloader, and flash it. The tool gives instructions for its use, if you have a supported device. Note that the flashing process may end up overwriting some of the data you want to recover.

One last thing to note: Windows phones support BitLocker drive encryption. If this was enabled prior to your phone getting reset - and you wouldn't necessarily know, as it's enabled automatically in some scenarios such as adding a company email account - then the data from before the reset is definitely gone for good.

  • cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk worked for me directly! TestDisk is free & open source.
    – mtness
    Mar 15, 2019 at 15:18
  • Cool, @mtness! Would you mind sharing how you got it access to your phone's storage? Did you compile it to run on the phone, or put the phone in USB Mass Storage mode, or pull the microSD card and do the recovery there (which isn't technically "on the phone" at all)? This is an old answer and I think it's now possible to put Lumia 950 [XL] devices into UMS mode.
    – CBHacking
    Mar 15, 2019 at 21:39
  • Yeah, I just removed the sd card and let TestDisk run directly on my laptop... but I guess it would still work if the phone is connected directly.
    – mtness
    Mar 18, 2019 at 8:54
  • @mtness Only if you could boot the phone into USB Mass Storage mode, which is required to let the software access the low-level block storage device. Retail handsets cannot be booted into UMS mode by default, it takes a special bootloader. Media Transfer Protocol, the default way that the phone connects to a computer, doesn't even expose the real file system, much less the block storage device.
    – CBHacking
    Mar 19, 2019 at 0:33

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