Alexander: Make sure deleted photos from Android phone are really gone

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Question: I transfer photos from my Android phone (a Moto G stylus) to my computer, then delete the photos from the phone. But the photos do not get deleted from the phone. Is there a way to permanently delete the images?

TOM KROCAK, New Brighton

A: There are several possible reasons why the photos are not deleted from your phone. Here are a few:

  • A photo that comes back after being deleted can be stored on the phone’s Secure Digital (SD) memory card rather than on the phone itself. To delete a photo from the memory card, use the Phone’s Files app or download a “file manager app” from the Google Play Store. You can also remove the card from the phone, insert it into a computer card reader, and use the computer to delete the photo.
  • If a photo cannot be removed from the SD memory card, the card may be “locked” preventing all data from being deleted. To resolve this problem, remove the SD card and move the switch located on the side of the card away from “lock”.
  • If the photo still cannot be removed from the memory card, the card’s file storage system may be corrupted. To remedy this, copy all the data on the card to your computer and then reformat the memory card – a process that will erase everything stored on the card. (For reformatting instructions, see tinyurl.com/2tawy9ce). If the SD card cannot be reformatted, it is defective and should be replaced.

These steps should prevent a photo from unexpectedly returning to your phone, but they won’t guarantee that the same photo has been deleted from an online backup service. Why? Some cloud storage software allows you to delete a photo from the phone without deleting the same photo online. To get rid of a photo completely, log into your online backup service and make sure the photo has also been deleted there.

Question: How can I get rid of some fraudulent pop-up ads on my PC? They say my McAfee antivirus software subscription is about to expire and I should renew it. The ad is usually followed by other pop-ups claiming that my PC is infected.

GREG HILLSTROM, Sarasota, Florida.

A: This problem is so common that it is called the “your McAfee subscription has expired” problem. If you click “renew now” on the fake ad, you will be asked to enter personal data that can be used by scammers to steal your money or your identity. You can get rid of the problem by downloading and running the free version of Malwarebytes, a security program (see tinyurl.com/2zym6ctk).

The question in these cases is always how you acquired the adware. Your PC can get it from unscrupulous websites. Or you may have inadvertently downloaded “Potentially Unwanted Programs” (PUPS) which may display advertisements, collect information stored on your PC, or facilitate the download of malware. To avoid catching PUPS, be careful when downloading legitimate software. Choose “Custom” or “Advanced” download settings that allow you to disable any additional software “bundled” with the program of your choice. You’ll see a list of what will be downloaded, and you can usually opt out by unchecking a box next to each unwanted program.

Send your technical questions by e-mail to[email protected]or write to Tech Q&A, 650 3rd Av. S., Suite # 1300, Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and phone number.

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