How to recover deleted photos from SD card

Did you accidentally delete some photos that were on your digital camera's SD card? Trying to "clean up" on your smartphone's microSD card, did you accidentally delete some photos you shouldn't have? Don't despair, at least not yet!

If the memory area on which your images were stored has not yet been overwritten by other data, you have a good chance of recovering your photos. All you have to do is download one of the softwares I'm going to recommend, follow the instructions below and... cross your fingers that the photos you want are still recoverable!


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Are you wondering how much it costs to do something like this? Don't worry, you won't have to spend a single cent. Most of the solutions I'm going to suggest are totally free and very easy to use. So why are you still standing there? Find out how to recover deleted photos from SD right now and put this guide into practice, every second you waste is taking you further away from the possibility of restoring the pictures you care so much about.

PhotoRec (Windows/Mac/Linux)

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

Once the download is complete, open the zip package that contains the program, extract the contents into any folder and run the executable qphotorec_win.exe. In the window that opens, select the drive related to the SD card from the drop-down menu (the one located at the top); then click on the partition from which you want to recover the photos (e.g. 1. FAT32) and put a check mark next to the item corresponding to the file system with which the drive is formatted (e.g. FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS). Make sure that Free is selected in the bottom right corner and continue 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 check mark only on JPG, PNG and RAW but you can freely choose the file types you are interested in. To remove the checkmark from all the items selected by default in the program, click the Reset button; to save your preferences, however, click OK.

Finally, click the Browse button, choose the folder where you want to save the restored photos and click Search to start the search and recovery of all available images. The duration of the operation will vary depending on the amount of data to be processed. In case you can't 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 the command line: just run the executable photorec_win.exe, select the SD card drive, choose which partition to scan, confirm the file system used, the scan mode(Free or Whole) and indicate the folder where you want to save the recovered photos (by pressing C). On Mac, only this version can be used. To learn more about how it works, follow the directions on this web page.

Recuva (Windows)

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


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

Now, if the Recuva interface is in English, click on the "x" in the top right corner, click on the Options button and select the language option from the drop-down menu to translate it. After that, 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 the SD card (in your case images, but you can also choose videos, documents, etc.), click the Next button and check the box next to the On media card or iPod item to direct the scan to removable devices only.


Finally, check the box next to Enable deep scan, click the Start button and wait until you see the list of all files that can be recovered from the memory card.

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


Then place a check mark next to the names of the images you want to recover, click the Recover button at the bottom right and select the folder where you want to export the files.



Disk Drill (Mac)

If you use a Mac, I strongly recommend you to try Disk Drill, one of the most complete data recovery software for Mac. Actually there is also a Windows version, but since it's not a free program, I suggest you to try PhotoRec or Recuva first.

Yes, unfortunately you have read well! 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 you can recover and allows you to preview them. To download it to your computer, go to Disk Drill's website and click the Free Download button. Next, open the dmg package that contains Disk Drill, copy the program's icon to your macOS Applications folder and launch it.


In the window that opens, click on the Recover button located next to the SD card icon, select Images from the drop-down menu that appears at the top and wait patiently for the scan to complete.

Once the scan is complete, expand the Found Files folder and click theeye icon next to the name of the image you want to recover: if you can see its preview, it means that the file is still intact and can be recovered.


To recover deleted files from the SD card (using the full version of Disk Drill), you have to check the box next to their names and click on the Recover button in the upper right corner.

DiskDigger (Android)

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

After downloading it from the Google Play Store, launch it, click on the Grant button to authorize its execution with root permissions and answer No, thanks to the proposal to upgrade to the Pro version of the application, which is paid and allows you to recover other types of files in addition to photos.

Next, select the microSD from which you want to recover the photos, check the JPG option (select the PNG option only if you want to recover screenshots and photos downloaded from the Internet) and click the OK button to start scanning the card.

At the end of the process, check the thumbnails of the images you want to recover, click the Recover button in the top right corner and choose whether to export the photos to a cloud storage service (or via email) by selecting the cloud icon or to save them locally in a folder on your phone by selecting the folder icon.



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