Can You View Old Snaps on Snapchat? How to Access Lost Snapchat Media
Snapchat’s entire business model is based on the idea that you can send photos to friends that will disappear within seconds. Unless said friend takes it upon themselves to screenshot the snap and save the screenshot image, that snap is lost to the ether, gone forever, kaput. The principle is meant to inspire whimsy, silliness, and a certain recklessness on the part of Snapchat’s users. It’s also the only thing that makes Snapchat different than, say, taking a photo and texting it to your friends. So it’s no wonder that Snapchat has had zero comments about recent claims that their snaps are not as fleeting as advertised.
How Does Snapchat Delete Snaps?
First of all, to understand how these snaps can be recovered, you first need to know what’s actually happening when Snapchat has them “deleted.” Each snap is given a file extension called .NOMEDIA, which prevents the snap from being saved to the user’s phone. However, it doesn’t account for a little thing called metadata.
Metadata is basically data about data. In other words, if the actual image is the data, the metadata includes information about that image, like when it was sent, who it was sent to, and the file name. By accessing this metadata, you may be able to recreate the images that were supposed to be gone forever.
Enter Decipher Forensics
Decipher Forensics, a research center based out of Utah, conducted a study using AccessData software to try and see if they could recover snaps. Spoiler alert: they could. The software allowed them to access metadata about the snaps. They then changed the file names accessed this way by removing the .NOMEDIA extension. In doing so, they were able to access the original image.
“That file extension can be removed as easily as renaming the file in Windows,” says researcher Richard Hickman. However, knowing how to find the metadata can be a little tricky.
Recovering Snapchats and Snapchat Data from iPhone
Currently, there is a number of software, both free (such as UltData,) and paid, that allow you to recover recently deleted data from your iPhone. The steps to recovering the data, and by extension, your lost Snapchat media, are as follows:
Connect your iPhone to the app being used to recover the data. This can be done physically by connecting your iPhone to your laptop or desktop computer via its USB cord. It can also be accomplished by accessing your iCloud backup on the data recovery software (CAUTION: Avoid phishing scams by ensuring you are using a legitimate data recovery software.)
After your device is connected to the software, you can recover your lost media. If the data is shown, but no images or videos are visible, it is likely that the media is still saved the .NOMEDIA file type. To fix this, simply rename the file and change the file type, as mentioned previously.
Recovering Snapchats and Snapchat Data from Android
Accessing deleted Snapchats on an Android device is a little bit different than on iPhone; Android users do have a slight advantage in accessing the data that remains after a Snapchat is sent and deleted. It is as simple as navigating to your phone’s cache folder and finding the Snapchat-specific folder within.
You can do this by running a number of apps (such as Dumpster, which is a free data recovery app on the Google Play Store) on your Android device. Dumpster is very user-friendly; after installing, simply refresh and allow it to scan your phone to recover lost or “deleted” data. You may have to export the data and change the file type from .NOMEDIA into a readable file.