Perhaps shockingly, the data on an SD card (or hard drive, or flash drive) is not immediately destroyed when you delete a file; rather, the computer just designates that space as open for re-writing. Invisible files remain until they are overwritten by new data on your camera or computer. This indicates that you may be able to recover your lost images if you haven’t been taking too many new ones recently.
If you’ve lost data from an SD card or deleted something by accident, the first step is to stop using the card. Don’t use it anymore; take it out of your camera and put it away. Continuing to take pictures could result in overwriting the missing ones, making it impossible to retrieve them.
If times go tight, you’ll need to be prepared to pay a little money. We’ll go over two free recovery apps here, but if those don’t work, it may be worth shelling out some cash to try anything else; sometimes one programme will uncover files that another missed. You aren’t starting from scratch, though; most premium recovery software offers free drive scanning before requiring payment. Spending a few dollars on priceless family photos is usually not a big deal.
All right, let’s get this party started.
- Recuva is a file recovery programme for Windows.
- Your files may still be there if they haven’t been overwritten. For Whitson Gordon
Though it can be picky at times, the free utility Recuva is a decent starting point. Getting Recuva up and running is as simple as installing any other Windows app. It’s possible that a driver or antivirus programme on your PC is preventing it from starting up; this is a fairly regular problem, and I was able to fix it by switching to Safe Mode. When restarting, press Shift and navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings to enter Safe Mode with Networking. It’s possible that you can use the SD card slot on your laptop, however I had to use a USB card reader.
The Wizard in Recuva will ask you questions to help speed up the scan. To save time on the first pass, select Pictures on My Media Card or iPod. If you really want to make sure you get everything, though, go ahead and select All Files from All Drives.
After Recuva finishes scanning, it will provide a list of recovered data. For me, it was able to retrieve 12 of the 13 images I had erased that I had taken for work a few years prior (which had probably been partially overwritten with new data at some point). I would propose choosing the first shot, holding Shift, and then selecting the last photo to highlight them all if the software discovered a large number of files. Then, choose all the images you want to get by right-clicking a photo and clicking Check Highlighted. To locate a storage area on your computer’s hard disc, select the Recover option. It is not a good idea to try and recover them to the SD card, since doing so could cause you to overwrite the files before they can be retrieved.
If you don’t have any luck the first time around, you can try running Recuva again using the Deep Scan option. I ran a thorough scan using Recuva, and it unearthed roughly 35 old images that it had missed before.
- Mac users: Recoup lost data using LazeSoft Mac Data Recovery
- Capture from Lazersoft
Make yourself a cup of coffee and start a deep scan if you want to explore every corner of your SD card. For Whitson Gordon
To get started, I suggest downloading the free LazeSoft Mac Data Recovery application if you use a Mac. It’s not aesthetically pleasing, but it’s free as the wind and it performed admirably in my tests. The software is installed like any other, and after it has started up, the user can choose between a Quick Scan and a Comprehensive Scan. (A comprehensive search will provide more results, but it will take more time.)
When prompted, choose your SD card to begin processing.
When LazeSoft has finished scanning, a list of found folders will appear in the left sidebar. Because thumbnails aren’t displayed, it can be time-consuming to locate specific images. Once you’ve done that, you can select the files you need and save them to your computer by selecting them in the list and then clicking the Save Files button along the top. Avoid recovering them to the SD card at all costs, since doing so could result in the files being overwritten beyond recovery. In order to retrieve every possible image, you should search through every folder in the sidebar.
- A Plan B in Case You Can’t Find What You’re Trying to Locate
- Photograph taken from DiskDrill
Using a free file recovery application will only go you so far. You’ll need to shell out some cash if you want to comb through your SD card thoroughly. For Whitson Gordon
The aforementioned tools are excellent examples of their kind, but there is a reason they are provided at no cost. Disk Drill (for Windows and Mac, $89), EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (monthly fees of $70 or annual fees of $100 for Windows), and Ontrack EasyRecovery (for Windows and Mac, annual fees of $79) are some of the more robust options if you aren’t finding everything you need to recover. In my testing of these applications, I uncovered two hundred photographs—a far cry from the fifty-one discovered by Recuva’s deep scan—and two films, both of which were from a time period so distant that I could hardly recall them. There is a free scanning phase for all three solutions, but after that you’ll need to pay if you want to recover more than 500MB to 1GB of data. To be perfectly honest, that’s a very sweet offer. If you want to get the most photos back without spending too much money, try one of these methods first.
If that doesn’t work, you might as well give up hope. Data recovery services like DriveSavers and LC Technology can recover files that consumer-level tools can’t, but they might cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you need those photographs badly. You’ll have to weigh the cost of restoring the photographs against their importance.
Whether or not you are successful in retrieving your images, you should keep in mind that this is not the end of the tale and that you should do everything in your ability to avoid this happening again in the future. Have a robust backup plan in place to ensure that your images are never lost, and make frequent copies of them to your computer.