Digital Forensics: Recovering Deleted Text Messages and Other Hidden Truths

digital forensics examiner gets deleted text messages
Digital Forensics Examiners North Carolina

Smartphones have become indispensable devices for communication and connectivity in our time. Almost everyone you see, at any given time, has one in their hand. They’re either browsing the web, making a call, texting a contact, or taking a picture. Smart cell phones are truly a wonder… One that moves data and information continuously. Voice calling capabilities on smartphones now encompass video calling options as well as traditional audio calls. Text messaging applications on smartphones allow for sending messages without strict character limits, incorporating graphical elements like emojis, customizing the appearance through features like handwriting fonts, and in some cases providing the ability to unsend or recall previously sent messages.

Recovering Deleted Text Messages an More

Our lives are intertwined with technology, which ultimately leaves behind a trail of digital footprints, with every interaction. From text messages and emails to social media posts and browsing history, our digital activities can provide valuable insights into our actions, relationships, and even thought processes. However, the deletion of data does not necessarily mean it is gone forever. Digital forensics, although not new, is constantly changing and getting better. Digital private investigators have developed advanced techniques and tools to recover deleted data, analyze it, bring it to light crucial evidence in various contexts, including criminal investigations, corporate disputes, and personal matters. Data that was once believed to be lost forever, can often times come back to haunt criminals, make dishonest employees sweat, and threaten secret affairs.

Recovering Deleted Data – Reveal Invisible Data to Bring the Truth Forward

The process of deleting data from a device does not erase it completely; instead, it merely removes the pointers or references that the operating system uses to locate and access that data. This means that the data itself still exists on the storage medium until it is overwritten by new information. Digital forensics experts leverage this concept to recover deleted data, employing specialized software and techniques to scour the nooks and crannies of storage devices, extracting valuable information that may have been thought lost forever. Some of these storage devices or containers of data have designated areas were deleted data is stored. Of course, this will vary depending on the device and/ or the operating system.  

Text Messages and Emails – Recovering the Crucial Conversations & Communications

Text messages and emails are among the most sought-after forms of digital evidence, as they can reveal critical communication patterns, timelines, and potentially incriminating or exonerating information. Digital private investigators can recover deleted text messages and emails from various sources, including mobile devices, cloud backups, and email servers. These recovered conversations can provide valuable insights into relationships, motives, and even alibis. Geo-location data is highly sought-after, revealing where the user may have been, at the time of a crime. Texting while driving is not only frowned upon, but is illegal in many states. We have been called to the defense of some folks that have been accused of using their phones when they’ve been involved in an accident. These can prove to be particularly difficult, as smart phones are constantly “talking” with the cellular networks and even exchanging data, behind the scenes with applications on the phone.

Images and Videos – Getting Deleted Pictures and other Media

Visual evidence can be equally powerful, and digital forensics has developed techniques to recover deleted pictures and videos from various sources, including smartphones, cameras, and computer hard drives. These recovered files can shed light on events, locations, and even emotions captured in those moments. Digital Forensics experts can also analyze metadata, such as timestamps and geolocation data, to establish timelines and verify the authenticity of visual evidence.

Other Online Activities – Show the Hidden Patterns

Beyond text messages, emails, images, and videos, digital forensics can also recover other forms of communication, such as social media activity, chat logs, and even deleted internet browsing history. These recovered data points can help piece together a comprehensive picture of an individual’s digital footprint, revealing patterns, associations, and potential motives. Virtual private investigators are experts in recovering the following”

Computer and mobile device forensic analysis can extract a wide range of data, including:

– Call logs detailing incoming, outgoing, and missed calls

– Contact lists/address books 

– Message content across SMS, messaging apps, and multimedia messages

– Multimedia files like photos, videos, audio recordings, and in some cases voicemail messages

Internet history including browsing activity, search history, cookies, analytics data

– Calendar events, task lists, notes

– User-created documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other files

Passcodes, passwords, unlock patterns, account credentials

– Historical geolocation data and cell tower location information 

– WiFi network connection details

– User dictionary/learned words

– Data from installed applications

– System files, usage logs, error logs

– Potentially recoverable deleted data

Mobile devices can contain a significant amount of personal information and data related to a user’s activities and communications. When such information is relevant to a particular matter, digital forensics investigators can provide data extraction and analysis services to recover and examine this device data.

Spyware and malware detection is another aspect of digital forensics investigations. Suspicious activities like unexplained device behavior, rapid battery drain, indications of monitoring, or coded/unknown communications could potentially be signs of spyware or surveillance software installed on a computer or mobile device. Virtual private investigator firms offer spyware detection services to identify if such malicious software is present and active on a system. Common capabilities of spyware include monitoring calls, texts, locations, app usage, multimedia files, internet activities, emails, contacts/calendars and enabling remote control functionality over the compromised device.

Top Digital Forensics Tools and Software for Deleted Data Recovery

To navigate the intricate world of digital evidence, digital private investigators rely on a range of powerful tools and software. Here are a few of the industry’s leading solutions:

Forensic Toolkit (FTK)

Developed by AccessData, Forensic Toolkit (FTK) is a comprehensive digital forensics platform that offers a suite of tools for data acquisition, analysis, and reporting. It supports a wide range of file systems and can recover deleted data from various sources, including hard drives, mobile devices, and cloud storage.

EnCase Forensic

EnCase Forensic, created by OpenText, is a widely used digital forensics solution known for its robust data acquisition and analysis capabilities. It features advanced search and filtering options, allowing investigators to quickly locate and examine relevant evidence.


AXIOM, developed by Magnet Forensics, is a powerful digital forensics platform designed for both mobile and computer forensics. It offers advanced data carving techniques, allowing investigators to recover deleted data from various sources, including cloud storage and encrypted devices.

Oxygen Forensic Detective

Oxygen Forensic Detective is a specialized tool for mobile device forensics, capable of extracting and analyzing data from a wide range of smartphones and tablets. It supports over 36,000 device profiles and can recover deleted data, including messages, call logs, and location data.

These tools, along with many others, equip digital forensics experts with the necessary capabilities to uncover deleted data and unveil hidden truths, ensuring that justice prevails and accountability is upheld in the digital age.

How to Completely and Permanently Delete Text Messages and Other Data

So, if you want to completely and permanently delete your data, you will need to perform a factory reset of your device. Now you ask, how do I permanently delete ONLY specific items? Well, you would need to delete the target items, from your cell phone. Then make a complete backup of the phone. You will want to perform a factory reset, at this time. Once all of that is done, then restore the backup you made to the cell phone.

This does not cover you for any data that may be store in cloud backups. You would need to delete those backs to once and for all and forever get rid of the data you targeted for deletion. Couple of things to note, however…. IF your phone is subject to subpoena or you have been provided a notice not to alter, delete, compress, conceal, etc., and you do, you could be held in contempt or worse, charged criminally. These spoliation clauses are very commonly used in domestic divorce cases and other types of cases. And many many times we have had the opportunity to examine a spouse’s device to gather evidence of their illicit affair. It can be quite embarrassing, but if you do delete, we will either recover the evidence OR we will be able to tell if you’ve made attempts to permanently delete data. Ultimately, you will be held accountable, so chose your battles wisely.

Digital Private Investigators – Victory Investigations

If you feel that you are in need of a virtual private investigator that is skilled in recovering deleted text messages or other data, reach out to the digital forensics experts at Victory Investigations.

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