[Tutorial] How to Recover Photo From Your Corrupted CF/SD Card

Abstract: Use The Free PhotoRec Tool To Recover Photo From Your Corrupted CF/SD Card

When you come back from a whole day’s shooting, hungry & tired, I believe the worst thing could ever happen is that your cf/sd card gets corrupted and won’t read either in camera or with card-readers. It could also be your children or your pet accidentally deleted or formatted your work. There might be pop-up saying that the card needs a reformat, or it like the pictures in your card simply got lost! When this happens don’t panic, instead, be extra careful!!! Follow my instructions below:

    1. Stop writing to it ASAP!!! That means, don’t do any more test shot, don’t format, don’t try to copy file into it, etc. If you write to the card the chance of a full recovery will be reduced greatly as you might be overwriting your previously existing precious pictures! The worst thing you can do is format and then shoot again, which could render all your old pictures partly lost.

    2. Get a card reader for your memory card, either CF or SD. Insert your card carefully into the card reader, and plug it to the USB port of your computer.

    3. Download an opensource software called PhotoRec at http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Download .
    The best thing about this tool is that it support all mainstream operating systems including Dos(What the xxxx), Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. Unzip the downloaded file and you get the executable file. We are ready to start the photo recovery!

    4. I am using windows so I will run “photorec_win.exe” from the program folder.

    5. The tool will ask you to “Select a media”, here you will select your memory card from the list. (Normally it’s quite obvious as you can see the brand name)

    6. Select partition – “Whole disk“. NOTE: When you try to recover files from a carelessly deleted/formatted card choose option “Free

    7. Select the file format you wish to recover. Normally if you are trying to recover photos from a memory card, you don’t need to touch this one! For a complete list of capable formats please review: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/File_Formats_Recovered_By_PhotoRec

    8. Select the filesystem of your memory card (EXT2/3 are for Linux OS, for memory card this is normally FAT/FAT32 so use the option “Other” )

    9. Select analyze “Whole” disk instead of only looking for files in free space

    10. Choose a destination to save the recovered files. You should create a new folder on your harddisk! Don’t put the recovered files back to the CF card as it OVERWRITES your previous contents. Select the “..” option to go to the parental folder until you select one partition of your harddisk. Press “C” when you are confirmed.

    11. Wait for the recovery to finish…Hope for the best! Normally if you card is still readable there is hope.

It was indeed scary experiences I had when I was travelling in Cambodia and I have to admit that this “PhotoRec” tool completely saved my life! And I am so lucky to have taken out the corrupted card without hesitation on realizing it’s gone wrong. I wish my tutorial can help the photographers who experience the same issue I had.

If you still have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment and I will be happy to help out.

Filled Under : Tutorials & How-To's