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05-23-2011, 01:21 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Photo Recovery

slightly off-topic -
but I thought I'd share this.

I have an old 1Gb SD card which has worked faithfully for over 4 years.
Saturday night while in use in my normal compact (Canon G10 - the OT bit) -
after taking a shot (after 20+ successful ones) the camera showed memory error, and would not continue. I tried removing and restarting the camera - but no go.

Fortunately I carried a spare SDHC card and was able to continue shooting on that.

After getting home I tried connecting the culprit SD card to my PC with SD card reader - and again no go - PC would not recognize the card.

If I clicked on the drive letter - Windows offered to format the card.

It has been years since I ever had to recover any photo files.

So I did some (minimal) research to find the latest versions of the software I had used before.

The two that came to mind were MjM Photo Recovery and Recuva by Piriform.

After reading the descriptions - both say that they were able to recover photos from FORMATTED cards - especially if only Quick format was used.

Since I had no real options - the SD card wasn't even being recognized by Windows - I used the SDFormatter v2.0 from the SD Association (the link is to the latest version 3.0) and made sure I only used Quick format.

After the quick format - the card was then recognized by Windows and I used both MjM Photo Recovery and Recuva to try to recover the photos.

The good news was that they both could recover my photofiles.

The difference was that MjM Photo Recovery was quicker
BUT Recuva had to use its deep scan - was better - as it recovered 29 files vs MjM PR 28 files.

The point was I had to deliberately format that SD card but made sure I used only Quick format - which re-writes the system files/headers for the SD card - then photo recovery programs could work on the card.

My guess was that somehow my camera/SD card combo corrupted the system headers on the SD card to show the memory error - therefore it would not be recognized by my PC. Doing a Quick format of the card re-writes the system header files to restore the SD card - but would have marked the photo files as "erased" - but they were still physically there - that's why I was able to recover them quite easily.

Recuva by Piriform seem to be the more thorough, for me, as it managed to recover 29 files vs 28 files.

Last edited by UnknownVT; 05-23-2011 at 01:30 PM.
05-24-2011, 06:35 AM   #2
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Thanks, did not know this was possible...
05-24-2011, 06:47 AM   #3
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For future readers of this thread, PhotoRec is a good (and free) tool to try too.
05-24-2011, 07:14 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by timh Quote
For future readers of this thread, PhotoRec is a good (and free) tool to try too.
Thank you for reminding me of this one.

Along with Recuva this was one of the more impressive recovery software I read about on PentaxForums.

I posted this almost a year ago in Post #7 of SD Cards/Recovery Sofwares?

Originally posted by photolady
Here's one that is recommended a lot and it's free. It's called Recuva. Here's the info about it.
Originally posted by Arjay Bee
Christopher Grenier's Photorec program has worked very well for me in the past with accidental deletions failed cards and failed memory sticks as well as a poorly formatted series of backup image file CDs CGSecurity

I don't currently have any files to recover - so obviously have not tried either of these out -
but they seem very good recommendations - especially since it is not JPGs but PEF/RAW files that need recovery.

Recuva (Wikipedia link) is by Piriform who also produce cCleaner - one of the very top Freeware that I use on a more than daily basis on my PC - so I am very interested in Recuva.

PhotoRec (Wikipedia link) may seem to have less of a pedigree - but I visited the site and I was very impressed with the Wiki- type layout and the way its documented - this speaks very well for the product.

PhotoRec seems to bundled with TestDisk - which also seems to be a very useful tool - note: according to the Softpedia review TestDisk may be hard to use - but PhotoRec is supposed to be very easy....

05-26-2011, 02:34 AM   #5

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QuoteOriginally posted by timh Quote
For future readers of this thread, PhotoRec is a good (and free) tool to try too.
I second photorec. I accidently deleted a few pics and was able to recover from SD card.
05-26-2011, 09:30 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by yusuf Quote
I second photorec. I accidently deleted a few pics and was able to recover from SD card.
This is good to hear - in my case I think almost any photo recovery software could have recovered 28 of the 29 photos.

The big trick which I was a little apprehensive to use was to actually FORMAT the SD card,
so that it could be recognized by my PC, so the photo recovery software could work on it.

For me the difference between MjM Photo Recovery and Recuva - was that Recuva recovered 29 photos vs. 28 on MjM Photo Recovery.

I like MjM Photo Recovery because it was simple to use - I had used it successfully previously, and it was quick.

BUT I think prefer Recuva because ultimately it recovered one more photo which MjM Photo Recovery didn't even find.......

Here's the description that gave me the hint to Quick Format the SD card - source: Recuva on formatted disks

Recovery from damaged or formatted disks
The dreaded hard drive crash. The file you forgot to backup before you reformatted a drive. The camera memory card with your holiday snaps that no longer works. Recuva can handle them too.
Windows (and other operating systems) uses a hidden index on hard drives, USB drives, and memory cards. Instead of having to search through the entire drive for a file you request, all it has to do is look it up in the index -- a much faster process.
Unfortunately, if the index is damaged, Windows can no longer find your files, even if the files themselves haven't been corrupted. That's where Recuva comes in.
Unlike Windows, Recuva scans all parts of a drive, looking for the bits that make up your files. If a drive's index has been damaged, chances are other parts of the drive may have been damaged too. Recuva will show you a list of files it has found on the drive, and give you an estimate of the likelihood of success of recovering them.
Similarly, when you format a drive (especially if you use the Quick Format option), Windows erases the hidden index but does not overwrite the existing files until you start saving new data to it. Recuva can still scan the drive's contents to find your files.
This is what I believe happened to my SD card - the "hidden index" probably got corrupted - so that my camera gave memory error and could not use it - and my PC would not even recognize the SD card -
so I was "forced" to format the SD card so that my PC could "see" the card.
Obviously once I had read the above - I knew to use only the "Quick Format" -
and was successful in recovering my photos.

The fact Recuva managed 29 photos vs. MjM Photo Recovery 28 - was interesting - but not really the point - I think would have been happy to recover 28 photos instead of 29 - however in the future I would choose to use Recuva over MjM Photo Recovery.

The culprit SD has been low level formatted so I can no longer do a comparison test with PhotoRec. But having people recommend it is a good indication and as I said a year ago I was very impressed with its own Wiki and the obvious care of its self-support - all very good signs.

But I only have proof of Recuva's ability.


I had uninstalled MjM Photo Recovery - but in the course of cleaning up my PC I came across the MjM Program Files folder/directory - there was a sub-folder photos - and in there were 29 photos! -
now in my mitigation MjM's window only showed and saved only 28 photos - and it is only because I happened to find this sub-folder in Program Files that I discovered MjM Photo Recovery could in fact recover all 29 photos.

So this shows that the photos probably weren't that difficult to recover
(ie: the photos themselves probably were not corrupted).

Last edited by UnknownVT; 05-26-2011 at 10:27 AM.
06-25-2013, 05:44 AM   #7

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QuoteOriginally posted by june256 Quote
suggestions above does not work for me
What isn't working?
Did you download, install and try Recuva, or PhotoRec?
03-27-2014, 12:09 PM   #8
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Don't do any formatting or writing to a card you want to recover from until backed up with disk imaging software.

Last edited by clackers; 03-27-2014 at 01:21 PM.
03-29-2014, 03:44 PM   #9
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Damn...wish I would've known about these programs last year. I moved to St Louis from California and drove. I made a bunch of stops on the way and of course took a ton of pics. When I got to my new home, I found out some how the pics became corrupted. It was heartbreaking
04-02-2014, 02:02 PM   #10
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^ Give a shot to PhotoRec, if you still have that card somewhere. I tried it out tonight on 4G Transend and recovered bunch of pics from last summer. And that card has been formatted, well, many times!
08-09-2014, 11:57 AM   #11
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Hi All, Hope this info helps someone trying to recover lost files on an SD card.
During a shoot someone touched some buttons on my K20D,
and the shots we had taken disappeared! Camera would not display them anymore.
I figured they were still on the card since we had seen each one as we took it.
I took out the card and locked it- and used a new formatted card for the remainder of the shoot.

When I transferred the SD card to my PC-
the shots from previous shoots were STILL there,
but today's shots showed as an EMPTY folder.

I tried a bunch of recovery tools and the one that finally worked
for me was CardRecovery v6.10- I found it on an old
Tom's Hardware post which listed the top 5 FREE programs.
It is not free anymore.

After I saw the files -I had to pay $39.95 for the license and the files were recovered.
Each shot has the JPG /and the DNGs are PEFs- but seem to be fine.

Recuva did not show any missing files for me.
ZAR- files did show up in a folder for free- but are not usable/
Raw DNGs showed as TIFFs.
Photorec CGSecurity, scanned, but I could not get files to save to a folder.

CardRecoveryPro (not free) only found a few files-
and some of those JPGs were missing their RAW file.

Before you start any recovery attempts:

Lock the memory card tab.
Do not use the card to take any new shots,
or write anything to the card.
Always save recovered files to a new/separate folder-
NOT back onto the same SD card.
I read that I should put the card into a card reader to do the scans,
but in the end- connecting my camera to the PC worked for me.

Hope this helps someone- I'd like to hear what works for you.
*I read a closed post by ljlayne which had some good info.

*And- Do not let anyone touch your camera

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