Small changes in the way you use your smartphone can go a long way. Without realizing it, you may be slowing down your iPhone or damaging your phone’s battery.

INSIDER’s beauty writer Brianna Arps learned this the hard way.

Arps, who spends much of her time taking pictures of products or snapping the perfect selfie, lost about 33,000 photos in February, after charging her iPhone 6 incorrectly.

“I’m notorious for not charging my phone and using it until the battery’s very, very low,” Arps told INSIDER.

The night of February 18 was no different: Getting ready to go out, Arps was “blasting music” on her phone and taking selfies while her phone was at 3% battery. When her phone eventually died, she plugged it into a wall charger. When it turned back on at 5%, she unplugged it again and went back to taking selfies.

“That happened about five times. Like off and on, off and on, off and on,” Arps explained.

The sixth time, however, Arps’ phone did not turn on when she plugged it into a charger. Eventually, after 25 minutes and a hard reset, her screen lit up. But this time, Arps saw the iPhone Recovery Mode screen, prompting her to connect her phone to iTunes.

After following the steps of setting up her phone, Arps immediately went to her Photo Album. However, while she saw the selfies she had just taken, she couldn’t find any of the other 33,000 pictures she had saved — pictures from her college graduation, senior year, and more.

“I freaked out,” Arps said. She soon realized her entire phone had been wiped; she lost everything from data stored on apps to contact information to “precious memories from videos.” All she had left were a few Notes and the selfies she took before her phone died.

So what happened? It’s hard to say exactly.

It’s likely that Arps’ phone went into Recovery Mode because it either overheated or detected data corruption, an Apple specialist explained to me.

He recommended avoiding using your phone to download apps or take photos during its last few minutes of battery life. These actions write and execute code to the iPhone, and although rare, an unexpected shutdown during this process might send the phone into Recovery Mode.

In general, you shouldn’t wait until your phone dies to charge it.

While it may seem like a harmless habit, it can actually shorten the lifespan of your smartphone’s battery. To preserve your battery’s health, charge your phone whenever you can, ideally in short spurts when it has lost 10% of its battery.

You should also avoid charging your phone to 100% and leaving it plugged in when fully charged. At 100%, your phone requires “trickle charges” to keep it that way. And according to battery company Cadex, this puts your phone’s battery in an extended period of stress, wearing down its chemistry over time. Removing your phone after its fully charged is like “relaxing the muscles after strenuous exercise” — both your muscles and your phone’s battery need time to recover.