How to Recover Deleted Phone Numbers
You accidentally deleted a phone number from your smartphone's address book and now you're desperate because you don't know how to retrieve it? Don't panic! With a little luck, you might be able to recover the phone number you deleted using cloud services to sync your smartphone data, or alternatively, using programs that allow you to retrieve data directly from your phone's memory (or from your computer's backups, if available).
In short, don't get discouraged because the last word hasn't been said yet! Unfortunately, as in all cases where you delete data, there can be no absolute certainty of recovering it, but if you follow carefully my instructions on how to recover deleted phone numbers you should be able to get some results.
The smartphone model and the operating system you use are indifferent: the solutions I'm about to suggest are suitable for both Android and iOS terminals, i.e. iPhones and iPads: all you have to do is find the one that suits you best and put it into practice. Enjoy reading and good luck with everything! Fingers crossed for you!
Recover deleted phone numbers from cloud services
Unless you have voluntarily disabled this feature, the contacts in your smartphone's address book are automatically synced to the cloud, more precisely, to Gmail's address book if you use an Android terminal, or to iCloud's address book if you use an iPhone (actually, you can also sync Gmail's contacts to iPhone, but that doesn't change anything at the moment for the procedure you have to follow).
With your contacts stored in the cloud (i.e. on the Internet), you can use the automatic backup features available to services such as Gmail and iCloud to restore your address book to an earlier date (e.g. the day before you deleted the numbers you now want to retrieve) and get back the data you accidentally deleted. I know, that sounds like a pretty complex operation, but I can assure you that it's really a piece of cake: try it now.
If you have an Android terminal or have decided to sync your iPhone contacts with Gmail, you can restore your phonebook to a previous state by connecting to the Google Contacts service from your PC and logging in with your Google account details, which of course must be the same as the Google account configured on Android or iOS.
If you can't remember which Google account is set up on your smartphone, do this: If you are using an Android device, go to Settings > Account > Google and find out which is your Gmail account by looking at the screen that opens. If you're using an iPhone, go to Settings > Account and password > Gmail and you'll find your account in the Account field of the screen that opens.
When you are logged in to Google Contacts, click on the More option in the left sidebar, choose the Undo Changes item below and choose the date you want to return your Gmail address book to.
Then place a checkmark next to an option between 10 min ago, 1 h ago, yesterday, 1 week ago and customized (if you want to set the days, hours and minutes to which your Gmail address book should return, up to a maximum of 30 days back) and press the Confirm button to start restoring your contacts.
Now you have to wait some time and see if the numbers you deleted by mistake return to Gmail address book and then to your smartphone address book. In order for this to work, of course, you must have activated the option to sync your phonebook on your smartphone.
To make sure that the phonebook sync has been activated correctly on your smartphone, proceed as follows.
- If you use an Android terminal, open the settings menu (the gear icon), go to Account > Google and select your Gmail address. Then take a look at the contact stick and if it is deactivated, activate it.
- If you are using an iPhone, open the settings menu (the gear icon), go to Settings > Accounts and passwords > Gmail and make sure that the Contacts tab is active (if not, you activate it). Next, go to Settings > Contacts and make sure your Gmail account is set as the default account.
If you're using an iPhone (or iPad) and you've accidentally deleted a contact, you may be able to retrieve it from your iCloud address book backups. To take advantage of this resource, connect from your PC to the iCloud website and log in to your account, which of course must be the same one you associated with your iPhone or iPad.
To find out which iCloud account you have associated with your iPhone or iPad, go to the settings menu (the gear icon on the home screen) and press on your name at the top of the screen that opens. You will find the iCloud account listed under your name in the menu that appears on the screen.
Once you are logged in to the iCloud site, click on your name at the top right and select iCloud Settings from the menu that appears. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens, click the Restore Contacts item, and select one of the available backups for your iCloud address book.
Unfortunately it is not possible to set a custom date for restoring your address book as you do on Gmail, you can choose one of the dates provided by the system (i.e. the dates on which your address book backups were uploaded to iCloud). Then select the date closest to the date you deleted the contacts you want to recover by pressing the Restore button next to it, and confirm by clicking the Confirm button.
Within a few minutes, the iCloud address book should be returned to the selected date and, as a result, the iPhone (or iPad) address book should be treated in the same way.
For the procedure to be successful, the phonebook must be synchronised with iCloud on the iPhone (or iPad). To check that this feature is working properly, go to the iOS Settings menu, tap on your name at the top of the screen that opens, go to iCloud and check the status of the toggle next to the Contacts item: if it is disabled, you activate it.
When you're done, go to Settings > Contacts and make sure your iCloud account is set as the default account for syncing your contacts.
Retrieve deleted phone numbers from VCF files
After accidentally deleting some numbers from your smartphone, did you remember that you have an old VCF format backup of your phonebook on your computer? That's great. You can use it to retrieve the contacts you deleted by mistake and return them to your phone's address book.
The first step you need to take is to transfer the VCF file from your computer to your smartphone. My advice is to send it to yourself via email to an address that you can also access from your phone and download it via the client you usually use on your phone (e.g. Gmail or Apple Mail). Once downloaded, you can switch to importing VCF contacts on your phone: here are the procedures you have to follow on Android and iOS.
- Android - launch the Contacts application, tap the (...) button in the top right corner and select Import/Export from the menu that opens. At this point, go to Import from archive, then to the option to import a vCard file and select the VCF file you downloaded first by email. On some smartphone models, after selecting the Import/Export item, you have to indicate the source from which you want to copy the contacts, for example the SD card and then the destination (target) to which you want to import them (e.g. Phone). On other models, you have to press the ≡ button in the upper left corner, you have to go to Settings and finally you have to select the Import option and then indicate the VCF file from which you want to import the contacts.
- iOS - launch Apple's Mail application, open the email message through which you have self-sent the VCF file and press the VCF icon. The Contacts app will automatically open, allowing you to add all the names in the VCF file to your iOS address book (by pressing the Add all xxx contacts option).
If you don't understand some of the steps or you need more information on how to import VCF files on Android and iOS, see the tutorial I've dedicated to this topic.
Note: After importing contacts from VCF files into your smartphone's address book, you may end up with duplicate contacts. To solve the problem, you can use the duplicate deletion feature included in Gmail or the Cleanup Duplicate Contacts application for iPhone (but it collects some user data so it may not be ideal for privacy, you can find more details about it here).
Programs to recover deleted phone numbers
If your smartphone was not connected to cloud services and therefore you have no way to recover your address book contacts as explained above, you can try data recovery programs. These are software, compatible with both Android and iOS devices, thanks to which you can go and recover data deleted from smartphone memory (as far as possible) or data from smartphone backups made on PCs (for example, iTunes backups for iPhones).
Among the best data recovery software for smartphones is EaseUS MobiSaver, which is available in both Android and iOS versions. It is compatible with both Windows and MacOS (iOS only) and is very easy to use. There is no time limit, but its free version does not allow you to recover more than a certain number of contacts at a time: to do this and unlock other advanced features you need to buy the full version of the software at prices between 37 and 75 euros. Another important thing to underline is that the Android version of EaseUS MobiSaver, in order to work, requires that root permissions have been unlocked on your smartphone: if you don't know what I'm talking about, read my tutorial on how to root on Android.
To download EaseUS MobiSaver to your PC, connect to the program's website using one of the links I provided earlier and click on the download button on the latter. When the download is complete, open the program's installation package (emsa_free.exe) and click on Yes first and then on OK. Then put a checkmark next to I accept the agreement and complete the setup by first clicking Next four times in a row and then click on Install and Finish. If you are asked to install drivers, accept. If you are using a Mac, simply open the dmg package that contains EaseUS MobiSaver and copy the program icon to the Applications folder of macOS.
Now all you have to do is start EaseUS MobiSaver, connect your smartphone to your computer and start a scan of your device's memory by pressing the appropriate button. If you have an Android phone and it is not recognized by your PC, make sure you have activated USB debugging in the Settings menu > Developer options. If you do not see the "Developer options" menu, go to Settings > Phone info and press Buid number seven times in a row.
When the program finishes scanning your phone's memory, select Contacts from the left sidebar, put a checkmark next to the contacts you want to recover (they'll be exported in VCF format) and click the Recover button to save them. If you want, by placing the checkmark next to Show only deleted items (top left corner) you can display only deleted contacts. Once the recovery is complete, you can restore the contacts on your smartphone by following the procedure for importing the VCF files I explained before.
If you do not want to scan your smartphone memory directly but a backup saved on your PC, select the appropriate entry from the sidebar of the EaseUS MobiSaver and choose the backup from which you want to extract the contacts.
Retrieve deleted phone numbers from a SIM card
Do you suspect that the number you accidentally deleted from your smartphone might be on the SIM memory? No problem, both Android and iOS have a convenient feature that allows you to import contacts from the SIM: to use it, follow the instructions below.
- Android - launch the Contacts application, press the (...) button and select Import/Export from the menu that opens. Then go to Import from SIM and follow the on-screen instructions.
- iOS - open the settings menu, go to Contacts and press the Import SIM contacts button at the bottom of the screen that opens.
Services to find deleted phone numbers
If at this point in the tutorial you still haven't been able to retrieve the deleted phone numbers from your smartphone, I'm sorry, but you'll just have to try your luck looking for the numbers you lost online.
Among the services that allow you to find phone numbers starting from the name of the holder, I would like to point out Yellow Pages, which are also available in the form of apps for smartphones and tablets. As you can easily guess, since there is no public list of mobile phone numbers, both services focus on landline numbers, but some professionals and some business locations have also made their mobile numbers available.
Alternatively you could try the more classic Google search (person name+tel) or you could search for phone numbers on Facebook and LinkedIn social profiles. Unfortunately, there are not many solutions at your disposal, in any case I invite you to read my in-depth analysis on how to search for fixed phone numbers and how to find mobile phone numbers: they could be useful for you.