How to Recover Deleted Photos

Noooooo! No, no, this can't be true. There's no point in trying to convince yourself that what you've done hasn't happened in the real world. The situation is very clear. With all my heart, you've been a real fool. Okay, let's think. Be calm and brave, don't cry over spilt milk. You accidentally deleted all the pictures you took with your digital camera. Why are you desperate? The shots you took by mistake can all be recovered. In what way? Well, read this tutorial of mine dedicated to how to recover deleted photos and you'll find out right away!

I beg your pardon? It interests you - and also a lot, given the situation - but not being very practical in terms of computers and computer science (and you see, I might add!), are you afraid of not being able to succeed? Come on, don't be a wimp! Apart from the fact that to retrieve your photos you'll just have to use some special programs (yes, you got it right, there's no need for "macumbe" and magic formulas!) but then I don't see what you're worried about 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. Then tell them not to waste any more time talking and to take immediate action.

Ah, just a small clarification before getting to the heart of this tutorial: miracles cannot be done, unfortunately. In other words, if a file has been deleted and the memory unit on which it was stored has been rewritten several times to store new information, it will be very difficult to do anything about it. Anyway, as they say, trying doesn't hurt. 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 is a software for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems (but for these two useful ones it can only be used from command line). It's free and it's open source in nature and, as the name suggests, it allows you to recover images from any storage device connected to your computer: memory card, pendrive, hard drive, etc. To illustrate how to use it, I chose to use the Windows version. So let's see how it works, exactly.

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

When the download is complete, extract the archive obtained from any location on your computer and launch the qphotorec_win.exe executable that was inside it. In the window that you will later see appear on your desktop, click the Yes button and use the Select a media from which to perform the recovery operation to select the drive on which the photos you deleted by mistake are located.

Now, select the primary partition of the device, check the FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS and Free items and select the file formats to find cn the program by clicking the File Formats button. Then click on the OK button to save the changes made to the program settings.

Finally, click on Browse button at the bottom right to choose the folder where you want to save the recovered photos and then click on Search to start the deleted image recovery process. After the process is completed, the images that you have been able to recover will be saved automatically in the folder you have previously chosen.

RePicvid Free Photo Recovery (Windows/Mac)

Another great resource you can use to recover deleted photos is RePicvid Free Photo Recovery. It is a free program for Windows and MacOS operating systems that after a simple scan is able to "resume" the shots that were removed incorrectly. It also has a very pleasant user interface and its operation is highly intuitive. If necessary, it is also available as a paid variant with additional functions.

To use it, first connect to the program's website and then click the button corresponding to the operating system you are using to download the appropriate version. When the download is complete, if you are using Windows, start the executable file you just obtained, click Yes/Run and accept the terms of use of the program by spitting out the appropriate entry, then click Next four times in a row, click Install and to finish click Finish.

If you're using a Mac, open the downloaded .pkg file and follow the simple setup wizard that comes to you on screen by always clicking Continue and typing in your macOS user account password when prompted.

When the installation is complete, start the program (if it has not started by itself) and close the warning that you see the possibility to switch to the paid version of the same, then click on Photo/Graphic, select the unit to be analyzed and then click on the Scan button.

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

When the analysis is complete, select the reference potion from the left alter bar and in the right part of the program window you will find listed all the photos found that can be recovered. By pressing on it you can also view a preview. If you want to recover all of them click on the Recover button at the bottom right and indicate the location on your computer where you want to save them, otherwise first uncheck the ones that do not interest you.

DMDE (Windows/Linux)

DMDE is another resource belonging to the category that I strongly suggest you use to try to recover deleted photos from your camera (but not only). It's for Windows (the version I'll focus on 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 work on multiple file types) and does not require installation. It is also able to act on any type of drive, be it an external disk or a specially formatted disk. Perhaps it's a little less practical to use than the resources already seen but it has great potential and it's worth a try.

To use it, connect to the program's website and click on the Download DMDE for Windows button at the top. When the software download is complete, open the ZIP file and extract the content in any location and then open the executable inside it.

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

Now, select the unit you want to search on and click on the OK button, then click on the Full scan button at the bottom and then click on Scan. Once the scanning process is finished, select the reference 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 them by checking the box, click on the Tools item at the top left of the program window, choose Return... and press OK. The recovered files will be saved in what was their original potion.

If you can't find the files you are interested in, help yourself by clicking on the Tools menu, choosing Search in Found (by name) and setting specific search filters according to your needs.

Recuva (Windows)

Recuva is another valuable software for general data recovery (and thus also photo recovery) that can be used 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 them on your computer, connect to its website and click first on the Download Free Version button, then on the Free Download button, on and finally click on the Download latest version button on the new page that opened.

Then open the obtained executable file, select the language from the drop-down menu at the top right of the window that appears on the screen and click on the Install button then press Run Recuva to start the software.

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

Once the scan is complete, locate the items to recover, select them and click on Recover to export them to a folder of your choice. Please note that items marked with a red circle are those that are virtually impossible to recover because they are badly damaged.

Note: If Recuva can't find your photos, try scanning them again by restarting the program and checking next to Enable Deep Scan before clicking on Start so that you can perform an even more accurate analysis of the reference drive.

App to recover deleted photos

The photos you deleted by mistake were not taken with the 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 inform you that you can also recover deleted photos on your mobile devices by using some apps. Below are some of the best in the category.

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

  • DiskDigger photo recovery - App that allows you to recover photos that have been deleted on Android by performing a thorough scan of the internal and external memory. Files can be saved locally, in the cloud or shared via FTP. Free of charge.
  • Undeleter Recover Files & Data - Another photo recovery app (and more) that can scan deleted items using the cache. Requires root permissions otherwise it won't work. Downloads for free.
  • Restore Image (Super Easy) - Simple but effective application to recover deleted images on your device on the fly. It analyzes its memory and allows you to recover photos in a couple of taps. In short, the name is a promise. Free of charge.
  • Deleted Photo Recovery - Allows you to recover deleted photos from phone memory or external memory and restore them in the gallery. It scans all the archives and lists the found files in a simple way. Free of charge.

For further learning and to find out which resources can be somehow useful on other mobile device platforms, you can read my article dedicated to the median topic which I've talked to you about it in detail.

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