Data loss because the application was uninstalled

Occasionally we hear about cases of data loss due to interviewers uninstalling the Interviewer App.

This happens because of the action of the interviewer, not any software malfunction.

It is not a gamble, a random occurrence, or a chance event. It is a predictable (by design of the Android OS) consequence of the following actions:

  • uninstall application;
  • clear data for application.

We’ve mention specifically that uninstalling the application will erase all unsynchronized data, e.g. here, here, and possibly elsewhere.

There is nothing that we can do internally (AFAIK) to prevent this from happening since the action is taken by the user directly in the operating system and our code is not activated at all in this process.

The user is normally presented with a dialog requiring a confirmation when the application is being uninstalled or the data cleared. Depending on the version of Android OS the exact details provided in the warning vary.

To prevent this situation you may want to restrict the account under which the interviewers are working, prohibiting certain actions (installing, uninstalling apps, changing certain settings, deactivating certain settings).

​You can find numerous third-party applications for this purpose using a search engine or discuss with other users in the forum.

These applications may not be free, but may also provide additional benefits for centralized management of the stock of tablets, coordinated updates, etc.

Before deploying such an application, one must make sure that it doesn’t conflict with the Survey Solutions Interviewer/Supervisor functionality, possibility to update, connect to WiFi, capture GPS, etc, etc. You do this by testing in a sandbox.

Some final thoughts:

  • When conducting a training of the interviewers, convey the value of the collected information to the interviewers as well as their responsibility for preservation of this treasure.

  • Synchronizing frequently also helps minimizing the data loss due to application uninstall, data clearance, or a catastrophic damage to the tablet.

  • If this has happened to your interviewer(s) and you’ve spent some time unsuccessfully trying to recover the data, there is no need to contact the developers. My colleagues and I will not be able to recover it either.