Probably one of the most valuable things you can have on your Android device is your list of contacts. Everything from work, friends, family, etc. It’s terrible if all of them go missing at the same time.
It doesn’t matter if you have accidentally deleted your contacts, or if they were lost while you were rooting your Android device or doing any other kind of tweaking and tinkering.

In most cases, however, your Android contacts only seem to be deleted or lost when you can’t find them. In this post, I will walk you through the steps how you can recover seemingly lost contacts and how to recover deleted ones.

Maybe your contacts aren’t even gone

Sometimes the settings on your Android device can go completely nuts, up until the point where you can’t even find your contacts and think you have lost them all. Before you start freaking out, there is a chance that all your contacts are still on your device, just hidden very carefully. To check if that’s the case, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the “Contacts” app
  2. Press on the menu in the top-right corner (three vertical dots)
  3. “Contacts to display”
  4. Select “All contacts” if it isn’t already

seemingly lost contacts restored

If “All contacts” hasn’t been selected, then this was probably the solution to your problem. However, if all contacts were already displayed, let’s try something else…

Restoring Android contacts with Gmail

If your Android device is synced with your Google account, the odds of recovering missing contacts are definitively in your favor. Gmail has a nifty feature, that allows you to restore a backup of all your contacts, which can date up to 30 days back. Once you have done this, you can re-sync your device with your Google account and get all your contacts back.

Sidenote: if your contacts are appearing in Gmail but not on your phone, see the steps above and/or try re-syncing your Google accounts completely.

To restore a backup of your Gmail contacts, go to your inbox and select “Contacts” from the dropdown menu on your left hand side.

getting to the contacts list in gmail to recover lost ones

Once you see the list of your contacts (or not), click on “More” to get to the dropdown menu, where you need to select the option “Restore contacts…”.

gmail contacts allows recovering backups up to 30 days back

Now you should see this pop-up window, where you can select a backup, which can date back as far as 30 days. If this method worked for you, go ahead and re-sync your Google account on your Android device and you should be good to go. If it didn’t work, let’s explore some other options…

Restore a Nandroid backup (root required)

If your Android device is rooted and you have previously made a so-called Nandroid backup, check out our post on how to restore it to get your contacts back. Now that we have expired all the “standard” options, let’s look at the last possible option.

Check your Android device’s contacts database file (root required)

If, you haven’t wiped your device completely, there is still a chance of recovering your lost or deleted contacts by checking if the old contacts database file is stored somewhere deep in your storage.

Depending on your manufacturer and Android version, you will find your database in different locations in your storage. For stock Android devices like the Nexus 5, the database file should be located here:

/data/data/android.providers.contacts/databases

The key that your are looking for is providers.contacts/databases. To get to this folder straight from your device, install aSQLiteManager, which is able to get into your Android device’s database storage and open .db files.

If you can find this folder on your device and it’s empty, it means that your contacts are gone for good.

Well… Now it’s time to blast out a message to all your friends on Facebook, Twitter followers, business contacts and your family, asking them to send you their contact details.

If you know of any other way that might help fellow Android users to get their lost contacts back, please share it in the comments and help future readers!

Daniel Bulygin

Daniel’s passion is optimizing stuff, making it work better and faster. He likes tech, entrepreneurship and the outdoors.

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