How to Recover Lost Photos from an SD Card

SD cards are commonly used to store photos, videos and other digital media. Losing your precious photos from an SD card can be frustrating, but depending on the cause of the data loss, it may be possible to recover them.

A common problem SD cards have is non-recognition by the device it’s plugged in to. Your first line of enquiry – as obvious as this might sound – should be to confirm that it’s your SD card which is at fault, and not your card reader. Many modern laptops have built-in SD card readers, so if yours does, try buying an external SD card reader to see if your SD card is recognised by your machine; if you are already using an external SD card reader, buy another one and test that.

If your SD card is empty and your photos have been deleted, you may be able to recover them using data recovery software. When photos are deleted from an SD card, they don’t disappear immediately. Rather, they will continue to exist over time so long as no further read/write actions are performed. So, if you find the photos in your SD card have vanished, stop using it. There are lots of great free data recovery programs out there, and most of them will be able to recover deleted photos from an SD card.

Disk Drill is a great data recovery program and makes SD card recovery easy. Designed with casual users in mind, Disk Drill doesn’t require any prior data recovery knowledge. The free version of Disk Drill allows you to recover 1GB worth of data. After selecting your SD card in Disk Drill, click “Recover”, and you’ll be presented with a list of files. If you have more than one file type on your SD card, and you want to recover a specific form of media (like photos), you can filter the results. PhotoRec is another great data recovery program, and is available for Mac as well as Windows.

SD cards are fragile and often made with cheap components, so our data recovery team see a lot of them on a weekly basis. While recovering deleted photos from an SD card using data recovery software might be relatively straightforward, if your SD card has suffered physical damage like a controller failure, you’ll need to consult a professional data recovery specialist. Our SD card data recovery team have specialist tools that are able to interrogate the memory chips directly, like our PC-3000 Flash Spider Board.

Data Recovery