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How To Get Your Deleted Photos Back

by Luciana Lacerda (follow)
Blog (395)      Articles (166)     

Memory cards, USBs and external hard drives are the best hardware options for keeping our photos safe. But like any type of technology they don’t last forever, and if they stop working, files can be permanently lost.

It’s a situation that has sent many photographers into panic mode. Sometimes memory cards won’t work when you try to backup the files, or are corrupted by viruses, and USBs or hard drives can malfunction. Files can also be deleted accidentally while you’re working, or cards can be formatted before you’ve saved everything. It’s a complete nightmare, but it may be possible to recover your memories.

Where To Go

The first rule of losing files is: don’t do anything! Take your memory card, stick or hard drive and keep it safe, because there are data recovery programs and companies that may be able to retrieve them for you. These types of incidents are common and technology is on our side.

If you are confident about your computer skills you can try to do it yourself for free. Nowadays, it is possible to recover all types of files with software available on the internet. Most deleted files can be recovered unless they’ve been completely overwritten by other data. That’s why formatting is necessary to remove files from memory cards forever, but sometimes even data on a formatted card can be restored.


Broken hardware, such as a snapped USB or shattered hard drive, can be harder to fix. Data recovery companies take the hardware apart and repair it, so the data can be saved elsewhere, such as on a CD or DVD, and given back to you. Sometimes the hardware needs to be rebuilt for data to be found. It’s painstaking work, so it’s best to leave this to professionals.

Here are some options for recovering your data:

Online Software

All you need to do is download the software and follow the steps, which can differ depending on whether you use a MAC or a PC.

However, make sure when you are downloading the software that you don’t install it in the same place you lost your photos. For example, If it was on your desktop, install the software in another place.

1) Wondershare
2) ZAR
3) MiniToolPhotoRecover
4) DiskDigger
5) Data Recovery

Data Recovery Companies

1) The company Michaels offers “The Data Doctor” service, to recover all files from the most popular types of memory cards (SD, CompactFlash and Micro SD), and from some older types of cards (such as MMC or xD). If the data recovery isn’t successful, you don’t need to pay.

2) DVD Infinity offers a similar service.

3) Payam can even retrieve files from memory cards that have been bent, broken or cracked. The only drawback is that it can be time consuming and very expensive – prices can range from a hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on how bad the problem is.

How To Stop It From Happening

The best way to avoid losing images is to back them up to multiple places - for example, to a hard drive as well as cloud storage, such as iCloud or Dropbox. To have all your images saved to only one space is very risky. Once you get into the routine of backing up your files, it will be a normal part of your workflow.

The second way is to safely eject external hard drives and USBs when you’re finished using them, to make sure all files have been saved properly. It’s also worthwhile to have a security program on your computer, such as Norton Antivirus, to regularly scans for bugs that can corrupt your computer and any attached hardware.

The final thing to do is to transfer your photos from your memory cards as soon as you possibly can, and store them safely in the meantime (such as in plastic cases in your camera bag). Heat, dust and moisture can easily damage memory cards, so don’t leave them in hot cars, or sitting out on a desk. Insurance can replace camera equipment, but not your photos.

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