When cell phone disaster strikes, you have some options – PCWorld

One of the most common and saddest inquiries we get at Answer Line is how to retrieve photos and videos from a phone that’s been stolen, or that’s been dropped in water and no longer works. You may be able to save the phone or its data if you try these steps. 

In case of a dead phone, you can most likely get the data back using a recovery service—at a very steep price. DriveSavers, a longtime player in the data recovery field, charges $700 to $900 for a 128GB iPhone, depending on the amount of data involved. They’ll check whether it can be recovered for free, but birth and wedding images aside, that’s probably more than most users are willing to pay.

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In the case of theft, we’re sorry to say you’re out of luck—at least if that’s the only place your stored your files. We hope you backed them up. We’ll tell you how to make sure they’re backed up in a bit, after we cover a few tips for making the best of bad situations. 

If you drop it in water

If you drop your live cell phone in water, turn it off immediately and remove the battery as quickly as possible. If it died before you could turn it off yourself, the rest of this might not work, but you can try (and start mulling over the recovery option).

After the phone is off, dry it thoroughly. Two common methods are to use a hair dryer held at a safe distance, or submerge it in a jar of rice. Once you think it’s dry, wait another 24 hours just to make sure, then cross your fingers and turn it on. If you were able to turn it off, your chances are rather good—but no guarantees.

Change account passwords if your phone was stolen

Unfortunately, if your phone is stolen, and the thief manages to unlock it, every app that you’ve signed into will be at their beck and call. You should immediately go online and change the passwords to those accounts.

Back up automatically

All the major phone operating systems offer free protection for your files: Apple with iCloud, Microsoft with OneDrive, and Android with Google Photos. As your email, contacts and calendars are most likely already part of those data ecosystems, they’re already duplicated online and on your other devices. But for reasons of privacy, you need to explicitly enable backup of your photos and videos.

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