Android (Note 8) phone search is suggesting deleted, unavailable files. Can't stop. Won't stop.

Discussion in 'Smart Phones and Devices' started by DoubleTap, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    Tried clearing all google search history, clearing all the app caches, turning off search suggestions in chrome - nothing works.

    When I use the search function and type in a few letters, it suggests tons of music and media files that have long since been deleted.

    Oh yeah, I also factory reset the phone and formatted the SD card.

    Nothing works.

    This is driving me crazy - does anyone have any idea?
     
  2. Supersnake

    Supersnake Gawd

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    Found something on Tom's Guide entitled How To Reset Android without losing Data where he wrote "Some Samsung phones and tablets allow you to reset Android settings without losing data while many other devices will not". He then instructs how to do this by Navigating to Settings, Backup and reset and then choosing Reset settings.

    That's all well and good. But look at this sentence that he wrote preceding that information and note the word I underscored. I wonder why he wrote, "A full factory reset on most devices means wiping it clean of any data".
     
  3. T4rd

    T4rd [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Yeah, not sure about that one, but thanks for getting this song stuck in my head. :p

     
  4. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I reset the Note 8 and formatted the SD card - I'm still getting ghost search results and I'm pretty sure they're tied into my Google account (which I also wiped the whole search history on).

    I seriously cannot figure out where this stuff is coming from.
     
  5. mda

    mda [H]ard|Gawd

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    How about using a different google account and linking the phone there after a factory reset to see if this behavior continues to happen?
     
  6. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I could, but

    1. I'm not sure what the unintended consequences would be of linking my phone number to another google account

    2. I'm about 99% sure it's tied to my google account as it's the only thing that is persistent
     
  7. Supersnake

    Supersnake Gawd

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    The Tom's Guide article is informing their readers that pressing Reset Settings will retain the data which you don't want to have happen.

    DoubleTap, post a screenshot of what you are pressing to reset the phone AND clear the data.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  8. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    So if you "slide down" and get the search bar, almost anything you type starts pattern matching previous files. In this example, I type "disc" and tons of music comes up (screen 1) when I click a song, it can't find it (screen 2) because none of these are on my phone. Screen 3 shows the search history - easily removed. The app seems to be called "Finder"? I thought that was an Apple thing.

    upload_2018-7-24_13-43-11.png

    I did a factory data reset almost 2 weeks ago:

    upload_2018-7-24_13-44-9.png
     
  9. Supersnake

    Supersnake Gawd

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    Your screenshots were helpful, thanks. Factory Data Reset was used and the "Finder" couldn't launch any of those media files it listed because they are no longer on your phone. Okay, now that we know that Finder is the culprit and not Google Search or Chrome, the task remains to clear the Finder 's cache/data base. If you can do so your problem should be resolved.

    It appears to me that the data base is stored on an online remote server maintained by Samsung, not Google. When you tap Online Results, does it gives you an option to delete what it brings up?

    If you are unable to access and modify that data base you may have to seek Samsung's help to resolve the problem.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  10. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    That is super helpful and I didn't consider that it could be Samsung. The weird thing is that it doesn't pick up any current files. Something triggered a snapshot or backup at some point.
     
  11. Supersnake

    Supersnake Gawd

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    DoubleTap,

    I spoke to Samsung to find out how to clear your Finder data base and was told the following.

    1. Log onto and access your Samsung account using any device. (PC, laptop, or phone)
    2. Delete all devices that are listed.
    3. Delete all data in the account.

    It sounds possible to me that the media file listings, that your Finder is continuing to retrieve, may have been associated to another device that was registered to your Samsung account. Regardless, the above instructions should resolve your problem.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  12. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I've tried a few things and this doesn't seem to be possible.

    1. I don't normally stay logged into my samsung account
    2. The online / cloud backup (15GB) is full, but I can't figure out how to use it.
    3. The weird shadow files in finder were happening on my freshly wiped phone immediately - before I even thought about loggint into samsung (strongly implying they would not have come from samsung unless samsung is identifying my through my gmail account - which is not the account I signed up with for samsung (hope that makes sense)
    4. I have no other samsung devices and the shadow files are mine
    5. There is precious little you can do with your samsung account on a PC other than add 2FA, change your personal info and delete your account (getting close to this as I don't really use it)

    I did manage to delete my 15GB of cloud data of which I could not see individual files and it has not immediately removed the ghost files. These were synced on accident around April and could be what was causing the problem - it might take a while for the cache to stop showing it - not sure yet.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
  13. Supersnake

    Supersnake Gawd

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    There is precious little you can do with your samsung account on a PC other than add 2FA, change your personal info and delete your account (getting close to this as I don't really use it).

    I would call Samsung and tell them what you were advised to do can't be done, and request that your problem be escalated to Tier 2 Technical Support. They will have more knowledge to address your problem.
     
  14. Gookitron

    Gookitron Limp Gawd

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    Do you have an SD card installed? Perhaps there's some shadow copy of some sorts still on that card? Like temp files or cache files.
     
  15. Supersnake

    Supersnake Gawd

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    OP wrote that he formatted his SD card.
     
  16. Gookitron

    Gookitron Limp Gawd

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    Ah I missed that.... twice.... doh!

    So I picked up my Wife's S8 to replicate the problem.
    I tried searching "disc" and did not get any hits. I searched "img" which gave me hits on some pictures. If I revoke permissions to access storage (in Manage Apps), then Finder cannot present to me those picture files. It will send me to search online. With File permissions, those pictures are actually part of WhatsApp files that got downloaded to local storage... Finder cannot see into WhatsApp itself (not part of the sanctioned apps list -- "Manage App").

    I read the chain multiple times this time: it is not clear if you factory reset, then signed back in to your google account, then performed Finder search. Or you did a factory reset, then with no accounts signed in, did a Finder Search.

    If the former, then my guess: Those files are being pulled by Google Play Music, at least the songs list. Reason being, is that you are referring to music files that do not exist on your phone. But Google Play is part of the sanctioned Apps which Finder can look inside. So Google Play has your playlist, and Finder is seeing that. But no actual files on the phone, so no results. My theory blows up in my face if you didn't keep/play those songs in Google Play though......

    I tried the Cloud storage theory with document files (.doc, .xlsx), but Finder does not pick up on those extensions (even when I downloaded the file to phone storage). OneDrive and Google Drive is not on the sanctioned list, so Finder does not see anything on those cloud storage in general (I moved a picture, uniquely named, and tried searching for it via Finder - nothing). I didn't try too much, Wife wants her phone back.

    I cannot reformat the wife's phone to test more.. But I hope this gives some clues.

    Edit: I acknowledge OP deleting cache and search history in google, but that is not the same as deleting his music library from Google Play Music. We don't use Google Play Music to host files, so I don't know if my theory holds.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
  17. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    1. I did do a factory reset (a few weeks ago) on my phone (including an SD format), I logged back into my gmail account (which I only use because you need one for an Android) and that was enough that the shadow files were still showing up in finder searches.

    2. I don't use google play for music. Some of the files it find are not music, but video files which are also long deleted.

    3. I've cleared every clearable thing on Google.

    4. I looked at revoking the storage permission in Finder and it says "If you deny this permission, basic features of your device may no longer function as intended". I didn't revoke it - need to know more about that.

    To me, it seems like there is an index somewhere - an index of once known files that is not getting updated/cleared - since the index can survive a phone wipe, it must be cloud based and since the index was showing up after only my gmail account was logged in, it must be attached to that - wild card is that it looks like Samsung might be able to use your gmail account to identify you or log you in in some cases, but I'm not sure.