Have you accidentally deleted a phone number from your smartphone's address book and now you're desperate because you don't know how to recover it? Don't panic! With a bit of luck, you may be able to recover the phone number you deleted by using cloud services to sync your smartphone data or, alternatively, by using programs that allow you to recover data directly from your phone's memory (or from your computer's backups, if available).
So don't be discouraged because the last word hasn't been said yet! Unfortunately, as in all cases where data is deleted, there can be no absolute certainty of recovering it, but if you follow my instructions on how to recover deleted phone numbers carefully, you should 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, that is, iPhones and iPads: just 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 address book are automatically synchronized with the cloud, more precisely with the Gmail address book if you use an Android terminal or with the iCloud address book if you use an iPhone (actually, you can also synchronize Gmail contacts with the iPhone, but this does not change anything for the moment for the procedure you will have to follow).
With your contacts stored in the cloud (i.e. on the Internet), you can use the automatic backup features of services like Gmail and iCloud to restore your address book to an earlier date (for example, the day before you deleted the numbers you now want to recover) and retrieve the data you accidentally deleted. I know, it 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 address book 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 those of the Google account set up on Android or iOS.
If you can't remember which Google account is set up on your smartphone, do the following: if you are using an Android device, go to Settings > Accounts > Google and find out which is your Gmail account by looking at the screen that opens. If you are using an iPhone, go to Settings > Account & Password > Gmail and find your account in the Account field of the screen that opens.
Once you have accessed Google Contacts, click on the More option in the left sidebar, choose the Undo Changes option below and choose the date you want to return the Gmail address book.
Then check next to an option between 10 minutes ago, 1 h ago, Yesterday, 1 week ago and Custom (if you want to set the days, hours and minutes to which the Gmail address book should return, up to a maximum of 30 days ago) and click the Confirm button to start restoring your contacts.
Now you have to wait a bit and see if the numbers you deleted by mistake come back to the Gmail address book and then to the one on your smartphone. For this to work, of course, you must have enabled the address book sync option on your smartphone.
To make sure that your phonebook synchronization has been activated correctly on your smartphone, please proceed as follows.
- If you are using 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 disabled, enable it.
- If you're using an iPhone, open the Settings menu (the gear icon), go to Settings > Accounts & Passwords > Gmail and make sure the contact stick is active (otherwise turn it on). Then 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 recover it from your address book backups in iCloud. To take advantage of this resource, connect from your PC to the iCloud website and sign 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 click on your name at the top of the screen that opens. You will find the iCloud account 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 to the bottom of the page that opens, click on the item Restore contacts and select one of the available backups for your iCloud address book.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to set a custom date to restore the phonebook as it happens in Gmail, you can choose one of the dates provided by the system (ie the dates on which the phonebook 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 pressing the Confirm button.
Within a few minutes, your iCloud address book should be restored to the selected date, and your iPhone (or iPad) address book should be treated the same way.
For the procedure to be successful, the phonebook must be synchronized with iCloud on the iPhone (or iPad). To verify that this feature is working properly, go to the iOS Settings menu, tap your name at the top of the screen that opens, go to iCloud and check the status of the switch next to Contacts: if it is disabled, activate it.
When you're done, also go to Settings > Contacts and make sure your iCloud account is set as the default account to sync your contacts.
Recover deleted phone numbers from VCF files.
After accidentally deleting some numbers from your smartphone, do you remember that you have an old backup of your phonebook in VCF format on your computer? That's great. You can use it to recover the contacts you deleted by mistake and get them back 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 email it to an address that you can also access from your phone and download it through 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 app, tap the button (...) in the upper right corner and select Import/Export from the menu that opens. Now, go to Import from file, then to the option to import a vCard file and select the VCF file you first downloaded 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 (for example the 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 the Apple Mail application, open the email message through which you have auto-sent the VCF file and click on the icon of the latter. The Contacts app will open automatically, allowing you to add all the names from the VCF file to your iOS address book (by tapping the Add all contacts xxx option).
If you don't understand some of the steps or need more information on how to import VCF files on Android and iOS, check out the tutorial I dedicated to the topic.
Note: After importing contacts from VCF files to your smartphone address book, you may end up with duplicate contacts. To solve this problem, you can use the duplicate removal feature included in Gmail or the duplicate contacts cleanup app for iPhone (which collects some user data, so it may not be ideal for privacy, see more details here).
Programs to recover deleted phone numbers
If your smartphone was not connected to cloud services and you have no way to recover contacts from your address book as explained above, you can try data recovery programs. This is software, compatible with both Android and iOS devices, thanks to which you can go and recover deleted data from the smartphone memory (as far as possible) or data from smartphone backups made on PCs (for example, iTunes backups for iPhones).
Among the best smartphone data recovery software 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: for this and to 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, to work, requires root permissions to be unlocked on your smartphone: if you do not know what I'm talking about, read my tutorial on how to root on Android.
To download EaseUS MobiSaver on your PC, connect to the program's Internet site via one of the links I provided above and click the download button on the latter. When the download is complete, open the program's installation package (emsa_free.exe) and click Yes and then OK. Next, place a check mark next to I accept the agreement and complete the setup by clicking Next four times in a row and then click Install and Finish. If you are prompted to install the drivers, accept. If you are using a Mac, simply open the dmg package containing EaseUS MobiSaver and copy the program icon to the macOS Applications folder.
Now just launch EaseUS MobiSaver, connect your smartphone to the computer and start a memory scan of the device by pressing the button. If you have an Android phone and it is not recognized by your PC, make sure you have enabled USB debugging in the Settings > Developer Options menu. If you don't see the "Developer Options" menu, go to Settings > Phone Info and press Built-in number seven times in a row.
When the program finishes scanning the phone memory, select the Contacts item from the left sidebar, place a checkmark next to the contacts you want to recover (they will be exported in VCF format) and click the Recover button to save them. If desired, by placing the check mark next to Show deleted items only (top left corner) you can display only the deleted contacts. Once the recovery is complete, you can restore the contacts from your smartphone by following the procedure for importing VCF files that I explained above.
If you do not want to directly scan your smartphone memory but a backup saved on your PC, select the appropriate item from the EaseUS MobiSaver sidebar and choose the backup from which you want to extract contacts.
Recover deleted phone numbers from SIM card
Do you suspect that the number you accidentally deleted from your smartphone may be in 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: start the Contacts app, press the button (...) and select the Import/Export item 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 contacts from SIM button at the bottom of the screen that opens.
Services to find deleted phone numbers
If at this point of the tutorial you still have not been able to recover deleted phone numbers from your smartphone, sorry, but you'll have to try your luck by searching for the numbers you lost on the Internet.
Among the services that allow you to find phone numbers from the owner's name, I would like to point out Yellow Pages, which is also available in the form of apps for smartphones and tablets. As you can easily guess, since there is no public list of cell phone numbers, both services focus on landline numbers, but some professionals and some business places have also made their cell phone numbers available.
Alternatively you can try the more classic Google search (person name+tel) or you can 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 landline phone numbers and how to find cell phone numbers: they might be useful for you.