How to Recover Lost Photos from Your Memory Card

by Peter K Burian

jun photorescue
© Peter K Burian
All Rights Reserved

Q: One of my SDHC memory cards has gotten corrupted and I cannot get any of the JPEG and RAW photos off it now. After some research, I found some companies that can recover data from a memory card (or a computer hard drive) but they charge hundreds of dollars to try to do so. Is there a more affordable alternative? -Terry M.

Answer from Peter Burian: There are several software programs you can buy for under $50 (and some that are free such as Zero Assumption Recovery), Terry. I have had favourable experiences with PhotoRescue from DataRescue ($29 US for the Windows or Mac version). There are other alternatives such as, - Card Recovery Software? and CardRecovery 6.10 but I have no experience with them and cannot vouch for them.

PHOTO CAPTION: The PhotoRescue software (for Windows or Mac) is simple to use, and the company offers plenty of advice in a short manual that you can access on their Web site. I have had excellent results with this software after inadvertently deleting images but you may find other -- perhaps even less expensive -- alternatives to be just as successful.

For the most part, however, such software is intended for recovering images that were lost due to inadvertent deletion or formatting of a memory card. We all have this problem on occasion, and PhotoRescue has always managed to recover my JPEG and RAW photos in such circumstances. Of course, if your memory card is corrupted to the point that your computer will not recognize it, no inexpensive software will provide a solution.

Other types of card corruption are less serious. If your computer recognizes the card when you insert it into a card reader or attach the camera with a USB cable, the recovery programs may be able to provide a solution. In that case, you might want to try the free trial of PhotoRescue or another program, if you prefer. (DataRescue recommends using a memory card reader with USB or Firewire connectivity to a computer.)

If PhotoRescue is able to find your images, you will need to pay the $29 US for a license in order to actually access them. This seems like a fair offer in my estimation since you pay only after the product has proven that it can solve the problem.

Learn more about photography...

Peter K. Burian teaches three interactive courses at BetterPhoto's online photography school:
-Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography
-Boot Camp for New Digital SLR Owners
-Mastering the Canon EOS Digital Rebels

In addition, Peter's photography appears in two books by Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography and The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light.

About Author Peter K Burian

Author: Peter K Burian

To learn more about photography, explore the photography classes offered here at BetterPhoto.