Sunday, May 31, 2009

How to Recover Deleted Pictures from your Camera

Share with friends on: Facebook - Twitter

This article pertains to the PC Win/Dos environment.

A few days ago I ran across a post from a frantic friend asking if anyone knew if it were possible to recover files deleted from a camera. I responded that it certainly was possible, as long as the camera hadn't been used since the deletion was done.

When files are deleted from storage media (floppy disk, memory card, flash drive, hard drive, etc), the file is only marked for deletion by the file system. This makes it invisible to you when browsing files, and also tells the system that it is OK for this space of data to be overwritten by new data. Based on this, it seems logical that, if this space can be marked as ready for overwrite, this can also be reversed. And it can!
Although this process and the software involved have become much more sophisticated and easier to implement over the years (depending on your needs), data recovery software and the technique behind it has been around almost as long as magnetic storage media itself. I recall using it myself on my old XT, before the Windows operating system.

Circling back to my friend. She did tell me that they hadn't use the camera since the files were deleted, so I assured her that recovery likelihood was high. She seemed mildly surprised at this because her earlier conversation with The Geek Squad was much different. They told her flat-out that it was impossible to recover deleted files. Where the heck do they get these "geeks"?
THIS is how I felt about The Geek Squad's response.

I sent my friend a link to download recovery software and explained what to do. She wrote back that she was still having trouble and it occurred to me that she might not know to use a card reader instead of the camera itself. She popped the card out of the camera and into a card reader and was able to recover all of her deleted files. I suggested to her that she write a nice little letter to The Geek Squad, suggesting that their technicians might not even be knowledgeable enough to drive their own vehicles.

If you find yourself in a bind like my friend, here is what you can try. Please note, these instructions assume you have a rudimentary knowledge of your computer and the PC/Windows system. If not, you may want to ask someone to help you through.
  1. When you first discover you've deleted your files, do not use your camera until you've attempted to recover your pictures.

  2. Grab some well-rated recovery software. For this type of recovery, I recommend DiskDigger. It's perfect for small jobs like portable storage media. I do NOT recommend using it on large hard drives because of the amount of time it would take to find what you need to recover.

  3. Remove the memory card from your camera and insert it into a memory card reader on your computer. This could be on the front or side of your laptop, or an external USB card reader. Most digital cameras these days use SD cards, but there are many different types so make sure you know your card before inserting your card into the wrong slot, or spending money on a card reader.

  4. Install the DiskDigger software, point it to the drive letter of your memory card, and follow the instructions for recovery.
Many thanks to Erica for inspiring this blog entry.

1 comment:

Erica said...

Hi. I am the "friend" Tom speaks of, and it REALLY does work! I hope you are ALL as successful and as ecstatic as I was to see my pictures again!!

Post a Comment