I recently received a question from a reader regarding recovering photos deleted from a SD memory card. Here it is:
Question asked by Emily
"Can you help please? I recently deleted some precious photos from my digital camera with a SD memory card inside. I know there are so-called digital photo recovery programs that can retrieve them. So I downloaded and installed a utility to give a try. The result is that the program found my deleted photos I could not save them or use them for anything without buying the program. Wondering if there are some freeware which can help me bring those deleted photos back for free? Your recommendations will be highly appreciated."
Here's my answer:
You must be using the demo or trial version of a commercial data recovery software. There are tons of such programs in the market, I have tried a handful. Personally, I feel they are pretty much the same. By that, I mean how they designed the functionality of the software -- usually they offer a trial version (labeled "free download") which allows you to free scan your device i.e. camera SD card, some even allow you to "preview" thumbnails of the found images, but eventually you'll need to get a license to fully recover your photos -- meaning you have to take your credit card out of your pocket :)
Well, I'm not against such kind of commercial software, but I'm tired of seeing their false or over-exaggerated marketing messages (e.g. 100% guarantee, free SD card recovery software, the best data recovery program, etc.)
Okay, back to the topic. Any real freeware to help retrieve deleted pictures from an SD card? Fortunately, the answer is yes. But before I jump into my recommendations, make sure you have prepared the following conditions for recovery.
Things you'll need:
- Your camera SD card.
- A personal computer (PC or Mac).
- Internet connection (for downloading a data recovery utility).
- A bit nerves and time. Get a coffee :)
Recovering SD Card Photos on a PC
Step 1: remove your SD card out of your camera and connect it to your PC via a card reader (or USB cable), make sure it can be recognized by your computer.
Step 2: download and install a free Windows data recovery utility on your PC. Recuva is probably the best one out there, Pandora Recovery is also great. Open the link in a new tab, as I've shared a ttutorial on how to use the program in details.
Step 3: scan your SD card, preview, and recover. Note: all the software I recommend above is totally free.
Recovering SD Card Photos on a Mac
Step 1: likewise, connect your SD card to a Mac machine. Ensure it your card can be detected.
Step 2: download this free app called Exif Untrasher. Note: the app recovers only images in JPEG format. So, if your photos are in RAW format, move yourself to this this free Mac data recovery software list.
Step 3: let the program scan your SD card and you should have no problem recovering any images it finds.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
- There is no thing that data recovery software will guarantee 100% recovery rate. Any software providers who claim so are probably scam.
- To increase your chances of recovery, best to put aside your SD card and do not write any new data to the source card.
- Do not damage your SD card as it would make things worse, you could lose all your data if the card can not be detected by a computer. That said, if it's damaged, check out this sd card recovery guide for how to fix it.
- Always remember to make backups -- the golden rule for data security. Online backup services like Dropbox is great; Traditional external hard drives are also nice options.
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