How to recover deleted photos from SD

Have you accidentally deleted some photos that were present on the SD card of your digital camera? Trying to do "clean up" on the microSD of your smartphone, did you accidentally delete some photos that you should not have deleted? Don't despair, not yet at least!

If the memory area where your images were stored hasn't been overwritten by other data yet, you have a good chance of recovering your photos. All you need to do is download one of the software I'm going to recommend, follow the directions below and... cross your fingers so that the photos you are interested in are still recoverable!


You wonder how much it costs to do something like that? Don't worry, you won't have to spend a penny. Most of the solutions I'm about to report to you are totally free and very easy to use. So, what are you still doing standing there? Find out right now how to recover deleted photos from SD and put this guide into practice, every second you lose will take you further and further away from the ability to restore the images you care so much about.

PhotoRec (Windows/Mac/Linux)

PhotoRec is the best software to recover deleted photos from SD for free. It is compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux and, in terms of effectiveness, it has absolutely nothing to envy to the most popular paid solutions. To download it to your PC, connect to TestDisk website (another free data and partition recovery application that comes with it) and click on the Windows entry.

When the download is complete, open the zip package containing the program, extract the contents to any folder and start the qphotorec_win.exe executable.In the window that opens, select the drive related to the SD card from the drop-down menu (the one at the top); then click on the partition from which you want to recover the photos (e.g. 1. FAT32) and put a checkmark next to the entry corresponding to the file system with which the drive is formatted (e.g. FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS). Make sure that the Free item is selected at the bottom right and go ahead with the procedure.


Now you have to click on the File formats button and select all the file types you want to recover with PhotoRec: since they are photos, I suggest you to leave the tick only on JPG, PNG and RAW but you can freely choose the file types that interest you. To remove the tick from all the items selected by default in the program, click the Reset button; to save your preferences, click OK instead.

To finish, press the Browse button, choose the folder where you want to save the restored photos and click Search to start searching and recovering all available images. The duration of the operation will vary depending on the amount of data to be processed. In case you are unable to recover the photos you are interested in, try to repeat the operation by putting a check mark next to Whole instead of Free (bottom right).

PhotoRec can also be run from command line: just start the photorec_win.exe executable, select the SD card drive, choose which partition to examine, confirm the file system used, the scanning mode (Free or Whole) and indicate the folder where to save the restored photos (pressing C). On Mac you can only use this version. To learn how it works, follow the instructions on this web page.

Recover (Windows)

If PhotoRec doesn't meet your expectations, try Recuva. This is a great data recovery software available exclusively for Windows. It is produced by the same company as CCleaner (famous system maintenance application) and can also be used in a portable version, which doesn't need tedious installation to be used.


To download the portable version of Recuva (which is the one I recommend you try), connect to the program's website and click on the Download button located under Recuva - Portable. Then open the zip archive you just downloaded (rcsetupxx.zip), extract the contents into a folder of your choice and start the recuva64.exe executable (recuva.exe if you use a 32-bit operating system).

Now, if the Recuva interface is in English, click on the "x" in the top right corner, press the Options button and select the language from the drop-down menu to choose the language to translate it. Next, restart the program and click the Next button to start the data recovery process.

In the window that opens, choose the type of files you want to recover from SD card (in your case pictures, but you can also choose videos, documents etc.), click the Next button and put a check mark next to the On media card or iPod item to direct the scan to removable devices only.


To finish, put a check mark next to Enable Deep Scan, press on Start button and wait for the list of all the files that can be recovered from memory card.

The files detected by Recuva are shown as thumbnails: those with full thumbnails can be recovered without any problems, those with the damaged thumbnail can be recovered but are probably damaged, while those with the completely white thumbnail cannot be recovered.


So place a check mark next to the names of the pictures you want to recover, press the Recover button at the bottom right corner and select the folder to export the files to.



Disk Drill (Mac)

If you are using a Mac, I highly recommend you to try Disk Drill, one of the most comprehensive data recovery software in Mac. Actually, there is also a version for Windows, but since it is not a free program, I recommend you to try PhotoRec or Recuva first.

Yes, unfortunately you read right! Disk Drill is not free, it costs 79 Euros, but it is available in a free trial version that allows you to find out which files can be recovered and allows you to preview them.To download it to your computer, connect to the Disk Drill website and click the Download Free button. Then, open the dmg package that contains Disk Drill, copy the program's icon to the MacOS Applications folder and start it.


In the window that opens, click the Retrieve button located next to the SD card icon, select the Images item from the drop-down menu that appears at the top and wait patiently until the scan is completed.

After scanning, expand the Found Files folder and click on the eye icon next to the name of the image you want to recover, if you can see its preview, it means the file is still intact and you can recover it.


To recover deleted files from SD (using the full version of Disk Drill), you need to put a check mark next to their names and you need to press the Recover button which is in the top right corner.

DiskDigger (Android)

If you have an Android smartphone or tablet that reads microSD cards, you have accidentally deleted photos from them and now you want to recover them, you can rely on DiskDigger. It's one of the best free apps to restore photos from Android devices and it's very easy to use, its only drawback - if you want to call it that - is that it can only work on terminals unlocked through root procedure.

After downloading it from Google Play Store, launch it, press the Grant button to allow it to run with root permissions and answer No, thanks to the proposal to upgrade to the Pro version of the application, which is paid for and also allows you to recover other types of files besides photos.

Next, select the microSD from which you want to recover photos, put a check mark next to JPG option (select PNG option only if you want to recover screenshots and photos downloaded from the internet) and press OK button to start scanning the card.

At the end of the process, tick next to the thumbnails of the images to be recovered, press the Recover button at the top right and choose whether to export the photos to a cloud storage service (or via email) by selecting the cloud icon or save them locally to a folder on your phone by selecting the folder icon.



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