How to Recover Deleted Photos

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Noooooo! No, no, this can't be happening. It's no use trying to convince yourself that what you did didn't happen in the real world. The situation is crystal clear. With all my heart, you've been a complete fool. Okay, let's think about it. Calm down, don't cry over spilled milk. You accidentally deleted all the photos you took with your digital camera, but it's no big deal. Yes, why do you despair? The shots you took that you mistakenly removed can all be recovered. How? Well, read this tutorial of mine on how to recover deleted photos and you will find out right away!

I beg your pardon? The thing interests you - and quite a lot, given the situation - but not being very practical in terms of computers and computer science (and it shows, I might add!) you're afraid of not being able to succeed? Come on, don't be a wimp! Apart from the fact that in order to recover your photos you'll have to use some special programs (yes, you got it right, there's no need of "witchcraft" and magic formulas!), I don't see why you're worried if I'm here with you, ready and willing to give you all the information you need. Well? Did I convince you? Yes? Very well. So, tell them not to waste any more time with chitchat and to take immediate action.

Ah, just a small clarification before going into the heart of this tutorial: miracles cannot be made, unfortunately. In other words, if a file has been deleted and the memory unit where it was stored has been rewritten several times to store new information, it will be very difficult to do anything. Anyway, as they say, it won't hurt to try. Happy reading!

PhotoRec (Windows/Mac/Linux)

The first tool I want to invite you to use to recover deleted photos from your camera is PhotoRec. It's a software for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems (but for these useful two is usable only from the command line). It's free and open source and, as the name implies, it allows you to recover pictures from any storage device connected to your computer: memory card, pendrive, hard drive, etc.. To show you how to use it, I've chosen to use the Windows version. Let's see how it works, exactly.

First, go to the PhotoRec website and click on the number under Latest stable version at the top right. On the web page that opens, click on the link for the Windows version you are using in the Stable version section and wait for the program to download.

Once the download is complete, extract the archive to any location on your computer and run the executable qphotorec_win.exe that was present inside. In the window that will appear on your desktop, click the Yes button and use the Select a media to recover from drop-down list to select the drive where the photos you accidentally deleted are located.

Now select the primary partition of your device, tick the FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS and Free entries and select the file formats to be found by the program by clicking the File Formats button. Then click the OK button to save the changes you made to the program's settings.

Finally, click the Browse button in the lower right corner to choose the folder where the recovered photos will be saved and then click Search to start the process of recovering the deleted images. Once the process is complete, the recovered images will be automatically saved to the folder you chose earlier.

RePicvid Free Photo Recovery (Windows/Mac)

Another great resource you can turn to for recovering deleted photos is RePicvid Free Photo Recovery. This is a free program for Windows and macOS operating systems that, after a simple scan, is able to "resurrect" the photos that were mistakenly removed. It also has a very pleasant user interface and its operation is highly intuitive. It is also available in a paid version with additional functions.

To use it, first go to the program's website and then click on the button corresponding to the operating system you are using to download the appropriate version. Once the download is complete, if you are using Windows, run the executable file, click Yes/Run and accept the program's terms of use by clicking on the appropriate checkbox, then click Next four times in a row, click Install and finally click Finish.

If you are using a Mac, open the downloaded .pkg file and follow the simple installation wizard that appears on the screen by clicking Continue and typing, when prompted, the password for your macOS user account.

Once the installation is complete, start the program (if it hasn't started by itself) and close the warning that appears about the possibility of upgrading to the paid version of the same, then click on Photo/Graphic, select the drive to be scanned and then click on the Scan button.

If you want to limit the scan to specific file formats only, before starting the procedure click on the Advanced Settings button at the bottom and select the ones you are interested in. Click OK to confirm your choice.

Once the analysis is complete, select the reference section from the alternate bar on the left and on the right side of the program window you will find a list of all the photos that can be recovered. Click on them to display a preview. If you want to recover all of them click on the Recover button in the lower right corner and indicate the location on your computer where you want to save them, otherwise first uncheck the ones you are not interested in.

DMDE (Windows/Linux)

DMDE is another resource belonging to the category that I strongly suggest you to use to try to recover deleted photos from your camera (but not only). It's for Windows (the version on which I'll focus in this paragraph) and Linux (but only from the command line), it's free (but eventually it's also available in a paid variant that allows you to act on more types of files) and requires no installation. It is also able to act on any type of drive, be it an external disk or a specially formatted disk. Maybe it is a bit less practical to use than the resources we have already seen but it has a great potential and it is worth to try it.

To use it, go to the program's website and click on the Download DMDE for Windows button at the top. Once you've downloaded the software, open the ZIP file and extract the contents to any location, then open the executable inside.

From the window that appears on the desktop, select the language and then click OK to set the language for DMDE then accept the terms of use of the software by checking the box and click the Accept button.

Now, select the drive you wish to scan and click on the OK button then click on the Full scan button at the bottom and then click on Do the scan. Once the scanning procedure is over, select the relevant volume from the left, click on the Menu button, choose Open Volume from the menu that appears and click on OK.

Then explore the various locations of the chosen drive and when you find the photos you deleted by mistake and want to recover, select them by checking the corresponding box, click on the Tools item in the upper left part of the program window, choose Recover... and click OK. The recovered files will be saved in their original location.

If you can't find the files you're looking for, click on the Tools menu, choose Search in Found (under name) and set specific search filters according to your needs.

Recuva (Windows)

Recuva is another good software for data recovery in general (and therefore also of photos) available at no cost on Windows operating systems. It is very easy to use, has a nice interface and is also very effective. So, what are you waiting for to try it?

To download it to your computer, connect to its website and click on the Download Free Version button, then on the Free Download button, on the entry, and finally click on the Download Latest Version button on the new page that opens.

Then open the executable file, select the language from the drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the window that appears on the screen and click on the Install button after which click on Run Recuva to start the software.

Now, in order to locate and subsequently recover deleted photos, click the Next button in the main program window, check the box next to Images and click Next again. Then select the device from which you want to recover the photos and click Next and then Start.

Once the scan is complete, locate the items to be recovered, select them and click Recover to export them to a folder of your choice. Please note that the items marked with a red circle are the ones that are almost impossible to recover as they are severely damaged.

Note: If Recuva can't find your photos, try rescanning them by restarting the program and ticking the Enable deep scan checkbox before clicking Launch to scan the reference drive even more thoroughly.

Apps to recover deleted photos

The photos you deleted by mistake were not taken with your digital camera but with your smartphone or tablet? No problem, I can help you with that too. If that's the case, I'm happy to report that using some special applications you can recover deleted photos on your mobile devices. Here are the ones that I think are some of the best in the category.

Oh, I almost forgot: the apps listed below are all for Android. For other operating systems there are also useful applications for the recovery of accidentally removed photos, but those that act in a similar way to the programs mentioned above are available only for the mobile platform of the "green robot".

  • DiskDigger photorecovery - App that allows you to recover photos that have been deleted on Android by performing a thorough scan of internal and external memory. Files can be saved locally, in the cloud or shared via FTP. Free.
  • Undeleter Recover Files & Data -Undeleter Recover Files & Data is another photo recovery app that scans for deleted items using the cache. Requires root permissions otherwise it doesn't work. Free download.
  • Restore Image (Super Easy) - A simple but effective app for recovering deleted images on the fly. It analyzes the memory and allows you to recover the photos in a couple of taps. In short, the name is a promise. Free.
  • DeletedPhoto Recovery - Allows you to recover deleted photos from your phone memory or external storage and restore them to the gallery. It scans all archives and easily lists the files it finds. Free.

For further learning and to find out what resources can be useful in some way on other platforms for mobile devices, you can read my article dedicated to the topic, in which I provided to tell you about it in detail.

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