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Recover Files From An SD Card

I was asked to help recover files (photos and videos) from an SD card that was used with an older digital camera for several years. Person didn’t know what had happened and tried to do their own recovery using software found through a Google search. The software listed all the files that could be recovered but they had to purchase the software to do so. I found another software called Recuva that was free to use. There is a paid professional version that gives you additional benefits. I installed it and it was able to recover about 400 files. It was the first time I was doing recovery like this. Here are some notes I made that I want to share.

  • I bet the different software (and versions) use different algorithms so the results will vary.
  • You will have to go through the recovered files (looking at the dates also) and determine if you are satisfied with the results.
  • It is easy to recover files that are “soft deleted”. It becomes problematic when new files are stored where the old files were. Also formatting (quick and full) changes things.
  • The big time forensics, companies and professionals will have the resources (hardware and software) to go really deep into an SD card (or other storage).
  • Make an exact copy of the card (or drive) before doing work like this on it, in case things go wrong. I used this tool – http://hddguru.com/software/HDD-Raw-Copy-Tool/
  • Also going forward don’t forget to backup your important files (on CD, flash drive, external hard drive, online, etc.) at regular intervals.
  • Keep two SD cards for your photography as a backup and to share the risk.
  • I was told that Spinrite is worth a try but expensive and also software designed for hard drives works well with SD cards.
  • I found that there are local companies that specialise in doing this like revocott.com and datasafe-tt.com

Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.

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