Recently a friend of mine went to Europe and took almost a 1000 pictures that she saved on 2 SD cards.
When she arrived back in the states, one of the cards could not be read by her camera or her PC. The card was corrupted.
She asked me for help as this was a trip of a lifetime and she couldn’t bear to lose those pictures.
I had an idea of how to recover the pictures, but I first searched the internet to see what other people did in this situation.
All their solutions were more complicated than my solution, and I wasn’t sure they would work.
So I tried my solution.
Being the risk-adverse person I am, I first tried the procedure on my own camera and SD card. It worked. So here’s what I did.
To recover the pictures from the SD card:
- Inserted the card into my friend’s camera and reformatted it. A message warned me that ALL DATA WOULD BE ERASED.
- Inserted the card into my friend’s SD card slot on her computer and ran free recovery software.
- All pictures were recovered.
This works because formatting an SD card or a hard drive really doesn’t erase the files. It just erases the pointers on the drive that tell where to find the files.
For example, assume your SD card is a book. The table of contents are the pointers to the files, and the chapters are the files.
When your format a card or drive, the table of contents is erased, not the files. The formatting builds a new table of contents, but none of the previous files are listed in the table of contents; the table of contents is blank until you save new files.
By using recovery software, it looks for and recovers the files without having a table of contents.
I didn’t mention the free recovery software I used because it is rather old and I couldn’t find it on the Internet any more.
Be careful when you look for free recovery software, as trojans often masquerade as helpful utilities.
I’d recommend one of the programs reviewed by LifeHacker. If my old software would not have worked, I would have tried Recuva. However, I have not tested any of the programs at LifeHacker, so proceed at your own risk.
If you recover your files, stop back and tell me your story.