Recover Deleted Photos


Today’s Question: In yesterday’s question you mention being able to recover data from a formatted memory card. I recently downloaded images to my laptop, formatted the card (in the camera) and experienced a crash before further backup and lost all images. How do I recovery data from a formatted card?

Tim’s Answer: It is actually very easy (with the right software) to recover photos that have been lost due to accidental deletion or formatting of a media card. As I mentioned in yesterday’s email, this recovery is possible because in most cases when you delete photos or format a card the information is not actually removed. Instead, the entry for the file (or files) is simply removed from the “table of contents” for the card, and the space is marked as free. As long as you don’t fill that space with new photos (or other data) you can recover the photos you thought were lost.

There are many software tools available for this purpose. In fact, some card manufacturers include a free recovery utility with some of their media card products. If you don’t have access to a free software tool for data recovery, I highly recommend PhotoRescue from DataRescue (

I have found PhotoRescue to consistently be able to recover lost photos, even in situations where the card had become damaged. Even better, you can download a free trial version of PhotoRescue and see a preview of the images it is able to recover, before buying the software to actually recover the images. And the software is able to recover RAW captures in addition to other image types.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that capturing new images will cause the deleted photos to be permanently over-written. So, if you have accidentally deleted images or formatted a card, set that card aside until you can use software such as PhotoRescue to recover the lost images on the card, and you’ll most likely find those photos haven’t been lost after all.