Many Android users may have noticed a mysterious folder called LOST.DIR on your SD card. On opening, the directory seems to contain nothing but weird numbers files that do not even open.

Some go on to delete the folder, believing it to be a virus, but that’s not true. LOST.DIR is a system-created directory for storing files that couldn’t be saved properly and can be used to recover them. How? Let’s find out.

What Is the LOST.DIR Folder on an SD Card?

The thing about SD cards is that they are not permanent components of your phone. They can be taken out whenever you like, and the smartphone’s operating system has to find a way to deal with it. That is where the LOST.DIR comes in.

Any time the SD card is abruptly pulled out, or the phone shuts down improperly, some files are unable to be saved. The next time the Android system boots up, it tries to recover these files. They are then stored in a dedicated folder named LOST.DIR, allowing the user to restore them.

However, restoring them is easier said than done. There is no direct method to get those files back, or a handy button to tap to convert them instantly. In this article we will go over the other methods of restoring these files.

Reasons why you can Lose LOST.DIR Folder in Android

  • Deletion: Most people don’t know what the LOST.DIR folder is for. You may either think that it is a virus, or some useless folder taking up space. Either way, it is common for people to deliberately delete the directory in order to clean up their SD cards.
  • 💽 Formatting: Often, you may format an SD card, accidentally deleting the LOST.DIR folder. While people do copy over their important files before formatting, few ever remember to check this directory too.
  • 💾 Corruption: Constantly pulling out the SD card without properly ejecting it can cause data corruption and other issues. It is possible for the LOST.DIR folder to get corrupted, making all the files contained in it inaccessible.

How to Recover LOST.DIR files on an Android SD card

To recover files from the LOST.DIR folder of your SD card, your first need to connect it with a computer. Many PCs and laptops come with built-in card readers these days, and you can just slot the card into them to access the data. Otherwise, you must get an external card reader.

Recover LOST.DIR files on SD Card with Data Recovery Software

The best way to recover deleted files from any kind of storage media is to use a dedicated data recovery tool. Scanning your SD card with a data recovery application reveals all the lost or deleted data, and allows you to recover it.

For this guide, we will demonstrate the process using Disk Drill. You can use any other data recovery app as well. Disk Drill is just the easiest to use tool that works across platforms, allowing you to recover data on both Windows and Mac operating systems with its free version.

  1. Begin with downloading Disk Drill and installing it on your computer.
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  2. If you haven’t yet, connect your SD card to the computer. You can use a built-in card reader or an external USB card reader to do the same. Once that is done, open Disk Drill to view all the drives of your PC. Select the one representing your SD card (recognizable by its size) and hit Search for lost data.Disk Drill Main Screen
  3. The software will scan the entire SD card, not just the LOST.DIR folder to find files that were deleted recently. The graphical breakdown will inform you of the progress, though you can select Review found items to view the files themselves.Disk Drill Scanning
  4. All files are organized by their folders, along with their file types. You can browse through the list or search for specific file names from the search bar on the top.Disk Drill Review Found Items
  5. Found images can be previewed before recovering them. Simply hover your mouse over image files and select the eye icon to view a preview of that picture.Disk Drill Preview Hover
  6. After you have decided which files to keep, select them all and use the Recover button. Now choose a destination folder to store the recovered files. Try not to use the SD card itself, as that may overwrite some of the files yet to be restored.Disk Drill Recovery Destination

Recover files using LOST.DIR (Adding Filename Extension)

This is more of a hit-and-miss method. The idea behind it is simple; each file in the LOST.DIR is actually a temporary backup of data that failed to save properly. It is possible that some of them can be opened correctly, provided you use the right type of application.

To this end, you must go into the directory and rename each file to various file extensions (.jpg, .txt, etc.) Sometimes, this might make the file readable, allowing you to open and view its contents and copy it to a secure location. Usually, such files are pictures, so changing them to .jpg does the trick.

Of course, this method is only suitable if the number of files in the LOST.DIR is low, as manually renaming each and every file can take time.

  1. First, locate the File Manager app on your Android phone.1 File Manager
  2. Opening this app shows you the contents of your phone’s storage, both internal and external. You can toggle between them a drop-down menu on the left. Switch to the SD card and scroll down to find the LOST.DIR folder.SD Card
  3. This directory will contain a bunch of files named with serial numbers and without a file extension. They cannot be opened by any app directly, so we need to rename them.
  4. Select one of these files and tap the Rename option.lost dir recovery
  5. You don’t need to change the name; just append a .jpg at the end. While you can try this with other extensions too, image files tend to give a higher success rate.lost.dir recovery
  6. You will be warned that changing the file extension can make the file unreadable, which isn’t a concern for these files. Select OK to proceed.how to recover lost.dir files
  7. If the operation was successful, the file will now show up as a viewable image, which can you can open with your regular photos app.Image

Just repeat the process for all the files in the LOST. DIR folder to convert them into viewable images. If your directory has dozens of such files, you might be better off trying a data recovery tool. Renaming the file extensions is only viable when there are only a handful of files, as with the example above.

How to Prevent LOST.DIR From Getting Deleted in Android Phone

As they say, prevention is better than cure. Rather than waiting for your LOST.DIR folder to get deleted and then try to recover it, you should take steps to prevent that from happening in the first place.

  • ⏏️ Eject Your SD Card Properly: The biggest reason for losing the LOST.DIR on your SD card (and the reason why the directory is created in the first place) is due to improper ejection of the storage medium. Make sure to properly unmount the SD card every time you remove it from your phone.
  • 🔄 Backup Your Important Files: Important data like your photos and critical documents should be backed up to the cloud when possible. SD cards are notoriously fickle and well known for getting corrupted due to a variety of reasons.
  • 💾 Save Frequently: An advice usually given to PC users, its utility doesn’t go away on mobile. LOST.DIR files are created when an application fails to create a save and shuts down abruptly. Saving often can help safeguard the information from being lost.

Conclusion

The LOST.DIR directory is neither a virus nor a junk folder that needs to be deleted. It is actually a location for files that couldn’t be saved properly, allowing you to recover them again.

If the LOST.DIR directory hasn’t been deleted and you can still see the files, you might be able to get them working by changing their file extensions. Simply rename each and every file and save them with a .jpg at the end. This will make them openable if they are image files.

Otherwise, your best recourse is to try a data recovery tool. Something like Disk Drill can scan through the whole SD card and locate all accidentally deleted pictures and files. You can then easily save them to a new location.

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Levin Roy

A frontend developer turned writer, Levin brings his in-depth knowledge to bear in breaking down complex technical topics into a layman's perspective. A believer in emergent technologies, Levin writes about Machine Learni...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.