How to recover deleted/lost photos from SD card? (Overall in 2019)

Recently lost photos from SD cards? Here is an overall tutorial to recover accidentally deleted/lost photos from SD card with the best free photo recovery software - iBoysoft Data Recoveryfor Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP.

By Vivian | Posted to Data Recovery Tips, updated on June 18th, 2019 |

Most digital cameras and mobile phones come with an SD memory card to save photos, free up the internal storage and back up important data. However, what if the stored photos get deleted or lost all of a sudden? Perhaps you accidentally formatted your memory card with important images in it. Or maybe your SD card corrupted and you cannot access all files on it. Such kind of photo loss occurs all over the shop. An users on Quora expressed his dismay by saying these:

I'm a photographer and I took some photos of my customer's wedding ceremony. In this morning, I wanted to transfer them from my digital camera to my Windows 10 PC for editing. When I was plugged the SD card into my computer, I found some duplicates of my pictures on the SD card. Therefore, I highlighted the duplicate set and hit Delete, thinking this operation would only delete the duplicate pictures and they will go to the Recycle Bin. However, the most horrible thing happened, and I realized that all my pictures were gone from the SD card. I have to send the edited pictures to my customer but now I can't find any of them. I am in a full panic mode, so can anyone please tell me how can I recover the deleted (may be lost) pictures on my SD card?

how to recover deleted and lost photos from SD card

When you lose photos of wedding ceremonies, birthday parties or vacations, you will lose not only the precious memories embedded into them but also all of the emotions associated with those moments in time. It is a nightmare especially when you got no copy of data backup. What's worse is that you can't create them as the moment will never happen again.

Are you stuck with a similar situation? Wonder how to recover your deleted or lost photos from the SD card? Now, do your own deleted photo recovery to get back your lost photos from the SD card quickly and easily.

Table of contents
1. Possible reasons for photo loss on SD card
2. Can I recover deleted/lost data from SD card?
3. Do's and don'ts for deleted/lost photo recovery
4. How to recover deleted/lost photos from SD card?
5. Tricks to prevent losing files on SD card

Possible reasons for photo loss on SD card

There are many types of SD cards available in the market, such as SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, etc. But no matter which brand you choose, since data integrity is always the first concern for users, people still could lose photos or other files on SD cards for several reasons. And the following are just some common ones.

1. Mistaken deletion of images

accidentally deleted photos

Everyone makes mistakes. You might be familiar with this scene. You want to delete some useless photos. Right-click one and select "Delete". "Delete, delete. Oh! Nononono...Not this one! Oh god...I'm such an idiot." In short, you regard the valuable photos as the useless ones and delete all of them, while later you realize that you made such a mistake.

2. Unintentional formatting of memory SD card

You intend to format one of the partitions on the internal hard disk, just double click on the "My Computer" icon on your desktop. Then select a drive from a list of all drive connected to computer. But you realize that you select the inserted SD card and format it wrongly. It happens so suddenly that you have no time to back up. As a result, you lose all files stored on the SD card. What a horrible moment!

3. Unexpected interruption of photo transfer

transfer interruption makes photo loss

The capacity of an SD card is so limited that it is easy to get full, therefore, people need to transfer loads of photos to other devices like computers, hard drives or USB flash drives. When you connect your SD card to your computer in order to transfer some photos taken on the summer vacation, but during the process, the computer is out of power and shut down unexpectedly. Then you plug in the charger, wait for a second and restart the computer. When you open the SD card and try to continue the transferring process, but you cannot find your those photos, neither on the SD card nor on the computer. Besides that, any accidental events, such as power outage, loose port, etc. would easily interrupt this process and make your picture lost from the SD card.

4. Disk errors in your SD card

It is possible that you plug your SD card in the computer but receive error messages like: "the disk in drive is not formatted" in Windows XP, "You need to format the disk in drive before you can use" in Windows 10/7/8, "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable", etc. This indicates your SD card is corrupted due to virus attacks, sudden power failure, unsafe ejection, and more. In this case, you are not able to access the entire SD card.

5. Hardware damages

Physical damage is a common killer for external storage devices especially for SD cards, in that SD card is fragile and easy-to-broken. If the SD card is not detected/recognized by your computer, phone or digital camera, it may be physically damaged. Have you dropped, folded or done any other physical damages to your SD card? If you said "Yes", unfortunately, it's hard to say if you can recover your lost photos on this SD card or not, even you send it to a local data repair service.

Can I recover deleted/lost data from SD card?

Once you find that your images are deleted or lost on your SD card, you probably can get them back because deletion or formatting will not make your photos go away immediately. Why would these disappeared pictures still in there? What happens to delete files from your camera or computer? What happens when you format a memory card?

First of all, you should know how your computer or mobile device stores data. When you store a file, the operating system will keep a record of where the file's data begins and ends on the logical sector, but it will save the actual file on the physical sector. When you want to find the file, the operating system will find its record information and then locate the actual file.

When you delete a photo, the operating system only removes its record instead of the actual file. Just like clear out the catalog but leaving behind the books in their shelves. Therefore, the system has no idea where it refers to and no longer presents the file on your computer or mobile device. But the file is still existing physically on the same place until the space it used is taken by other files.

Similarly, formatting a memory card will only get rid of any existing folder structure that was set up from previous use, and refreshes it with a new one. It can be considered similar to destroying the bookshelf and catalog. But if you choose the quick format option, the books will be torn to pieces but it still can be recovered with professional file recovery software. On the other hand, a full format will remove the books completely. If you choose the option, unfortunately, you can only let those deleted/lost photos go.

Do's and don'ts for deleted/lost photo recovery

Technically, the chance of successful data recovery is very high, but you can't make sure to recover all deleted/lost photos from your SD card. To increase the success rate, you need to remember the do's and don'ts below before you ring the curtain up on photo recovery.

First, don't be panic and don't let anxiety be a distraction of your photo recovery process.

Second, do your own check on connections. You can reconnect this SD card to your camera or a computer, or you can simply change another card reader and device to access your photos on this SD card.

Then, don't perform any further operation to this SD card like saving new files to this SD card until you restore the lost photos from this SD card. You won't want to run the risk of overwriting your original picture and bury them deeper.

Last but not least, do an effort to recover your lost or deleted photos from the SD card with reliable and professional SD card recovery software.

This short video shows you how to recover lost data from SD cards:

How to recover deleted/lost photos from SD card?

There is no doubt that you lost photos for different reasons, but what you are facing with commonly is how to recover deleted/lost photos from SD card. How successful you can recover the deleted photos from the SD card will depend on your situation. You will get more chance to recover them if you just accidentally deleted photos or format the SD card, but things get trickier if you've overwritten to these lost files.

Inexperience in recovering lost files from external drives? Here is the detailed tutorial for deleted/lost photo recovery that you can have a pop.

1. Prepare things that you need before recovering lost images from SD card

If your SD card was loaded in cameras previously, to perform foolproof deleted or lost photo recovery by yourself at home, you may need:

  • A functional Windows computer (be it Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP)
  • The SD card that you deleted or lost photos
  • A card reader to read your SD card on the computer
  • Patient and subtle operation instruction as below

2. Tutorial to recover lost photos from the SD card on Windows computer

Are you ready? Let's get started!

Step 1: Connect the SD card in question to your Windows computer.

Step 2: Download and install deleted/lost photo recovery software.

When it comes to photo recovery software, you will get millions of results in Google. One of the most reliable photo recovery tools is iBoysoft Data Recovery which can work with SD cards, hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives, memory sticks, etc. Besides photo recovery, this data recovery tool can also recover deleted/lost videos, emails, documents, and other files with ease. Furthermore, it is powerful inRAW partition data recovery, corrupted drive data recovery, formatted drive data recovery and more. Thus, to recover your lost photos from your SD card, just download this tool and get your images back in Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP.

Best free SD card data recovery

  • Recover deleted or lost video from SD card which used in Adroid phones, iPhones, digital cameras and other devices.
  • Recover lost video due to accidental deletion, formatted card, virus attacked and devices system crashed.
  • Supported file formats: JPG, PNG, Exif, TIFF, GIF, BMP, PPM, PGM, WebP, SVG, etc.
  • Support OS: Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003

Read-only & risk-free

Step 3: Launch iBoysoft Data Recovery on your Windows computer.

Step 4: Select the storage device that you lost photos and scan for lost photos.

This tool is praised for its intuitive interface and easy-to-use wizard. So, you will see your SD card in the drive list once this free photo recovery software is launched. What you need to do is to select this SD card and click on the Next button, so that this photo recovery tool can scan for the lost pictures on this device.

deleted photo recovery software

Tip: This software allows both Deep scan mode and Quick scan mode. If you lost pictures because you had formatted this SD card, remember to check the Deep scan option at the left bottom. (Deep scan will take more time when scanning, but it will find more lost photos on this SD card.)

Step 5: Locate the lost photos and preview the scanning result.

This software allows you to locate your files quickly in the left sidebar by dividing them into three groups - files type, created time and saving path. Once you find your deleted or lost photos, you can stop the scanning procedure. Moreover, you can double-click the files and preview them to ensure that your photos are intact.

Step 6: Pick pictures that you lost or deleted and click the Recover button to get them back

 recover deleted photos

3. Check the recovery result of your deleted and lost pictures

When you click on the Recover button to proceed deleted/lost photo recovery process, iBoysoft Data Recovery will ask you to choose a place that your photos can be saved to. In this case, a friendly reminder is that you'd better save the recovered photos to another reliable storage device and you need to check if all you lost images are recovered after the photo recovery is done.

After recovering your deleted or lost photos from the SD card, you still don't want to say farewell to this SD card that may be corrupted, you can further your read on how to fix corrupted SD cards by using Command Prompt as well as more methods.

Tricks to prevent losing files on SD card

However, when you accidentally delete or lose photos on SD card, being prepared for accidents is more feasible than anxiously searching for how to recover the deleted or lost photos and looking for the best deleted/lost photo recovery solution on Google. Thus, you need to read the following tricks on how to prevent photo loss on SD cards.

1. Always remember that fish follow the bait

You need to shell out your money to trustworthy and professional SD card manufacturers instead of some unknown but cheap ones, in that you will finally realize the bad performance of fake SD cards over time and lose important things due to its terrible quality.

2. Regularly back up your files

Even though a regular backup might be a little painstaking when you're doing it, it will save you a lot of money and time in the future once you need to recover deleted or lost files from SD cards.

3. Separate SD cards for different cameras

You would be able to have many SD cards and several cameras especially if you are a photographer, to avoid losing important pictures, you'd better label them in case of mistaken deletion.

4. Format SD card in camera rather than computers

You may need to format an SD card when you have made a copy of data backup, but such formation is better through your camera than through a computer. The reason is that formatting on a computer might cause an incompatible file system issue, while unsupported file system will make your photos lost on this SD card because the system will not be able to locate where are your photos.

5. Safely unmount and eject the SD card

When you finished editing pictures on the computer, always remember to safely remove the SD card instead of unplugging it abruptly particularly in the process of files transferring.

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