How to Recover Deleted Photos from SD Card

Did you delete some important photos you took with your digital camera? I understand your concern, but instead of despairing, roll up your sleeves and try to remedy the situation - maybe all is not lost! If the photos were saved on the SD card inserted in the camera and if the portion of memory on which the images were stored has not yet been overwritten, i.e. has not yet been occupied by other data, you may be able to recover your precious shots.

Come on, take the memory card out of your digital camera, insert it into your computer and try to follow my tips on how to recover photos from SD. If good luck is on your side, you'll easily complete the mission! I'll tell you right now that to do the task in question you just need to take advantage of a few simple programs specially designed for the purpose, available for both Windows and MacOS, and, in most cases, totally free of charge.

I beg your pardon? The photos you are interested in recovering were indeed saved on an SD card but the SD card was inserted inside your smartphone and were therefore taken with the camera of your mobile phone? It makes no difference! Even in this case, in fact, you can try to recover them using the resources in question, as well as tools specifically designed for the mobile side and usable directly from there. To find out more, go ahead and read on, you'll find everything explained in detail below.

Programs to recover photos from SD

First of all, let's try to figure out how to recover photos from SD using some ad hoc programs running on both Windows and MacOS. You will find them listed and explained right below. Don't worry, they are not difficult to use, not even for those who, a bit like you, don't really consider themselves a great expert in computer science and new technologies, you have my word.

EaseUS Data Recovery (Windows/macOS)

The first among the useful software for recovering deleted photos from SD cards that I invite you to consider is EaseUS Data Recovery. It is a free tool that can be used on both Windows and MacOS that allows you to not only recover deleted images but also videos, documents and various other file types. It is able to act on memory cards but also on hard drives, pendrives and various other media. Note that it allows you to recover maximum 2GB of data, for larger amounts you need to buy the paid version of the software (costs 103.64 Euros).

To download the program on Windows, connect to its official website and click on the Download Free button. When the download is complete, open the drw_setup.exe file and press the Yes and OK buttons. In the window that now appears on your desktop, click on the Next, Accept, Confirm and Install buttons and complete the setup by pressing the Complete button.

If you are using macOS, connect to this other section of the program's website and press the Free trial button. When the download is complete, open the obtained .dmg package, drag the software icon into the Applications folder of macOS, right click on it and select the Open twice in a row item, to start EaseUS Data Recovery bypassing the limitations that Apple imposes on non-certified developers (which should only be done the first time you start it).

Now that, regardless of the operating system, you see the main window of the program on screen, select the drive related to the memory card that you find in the External Devices section and start the analysis by clicking on the Scan button located at the bottom right.

Once the analysis procedure is complete, you will be able to see the complete list of all the files that EaseUS Data Recovery has been able to detect. To view only the images, click on the Filter item at the top and select Graphs from the menu that opens. Then select the reference format from the menu on the left and tick the items you want to recover in the right part of the software window. If you want to preview them first, double-click on them.

Finally, press on the Recover button located at the bottom right, indicate the location on your computer where you want to save the photos and press the Well button. Once the recovery process is completed, it will automatically open the File Explorer window of your chosen location to save the recovered photos from SD card.

PhotoRec (Windows/macOS)

Another tool I want to suggest you to try PhotoRec. It is a free and open source data recovery application. To be precise, it is used to restore photos, videos and other types of files from various types of media. It works on Windows and MacOS (as well as Linux) but the variant for Microsoft operating systems is the only one with a graphical interface, which is why I chose to tell you only about the latter in this step. Note that the program is provided in conjunction with TestDisk, a software that mainly serves to restore lost partitions and make damaged disks bootable again.

To download it to your computer, connect to the official website of the program and click on Windows 64-bit (if you are using 64-bit Windows) or Windows (if you are using 32-bit Windows). When the download is complete, open the ZIP archive containing the two programs, extract the contents into any folder, start the qphotorec_win.exe executable and click the Yes button.

In the window that opens on your desktop, expand the drop down menu located at the top to select the drive related to your computer's SD card reader. Then choose the primary partition of your SD card, place a check mark next to FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS and press the Navigate button to select the folder where you want to export the recovered photos from PhotoRec.

Then click the File Formats button, press the Restore button and select the file types to recover. In this case, since we are dealing with photos, I recommend you to select JPG, PNG and RAW, but of course you can choose all the file types you prefer.

To finish, click on the OK and Search buttons and wait for the program to recover all the images still available on the SD card. Easier than that?

Recover (Windows)

Recuva is an excellent free (but not open source) program for recovering deleted files under Windows environment. You can use it to recover photos from SD but also to restore business documents, music tracks, videos and many other types of files from hard drives, USB flash drives and external drives. It was developed by the same software house as CCleaner (I told you about it in depth in my tutorial on how to download and use CCleaner).

To download it to your PC, connect to its official website and first click on the Download Free Version button, then the Free Download button and then the link.

When the download is complete, start the installation package called rcsetupxx.exe, click on the Yes button, select Italian from the language selection menu located in the top right of the window that opens, remove the checkmark for the installation of any extra accessory programs (eg Google Chrome) and press the Install button in the middle. Then press the Run Recover button.

Now that you see the Recover window on your desktop, click the Next button. Place a check mark next to the Pictures item, press the Next button again and select the On multimedia card or iPod option.

To finish, click the Next button, place a checkmark next to the Enable Thorough Scan item and click the Start button to start searching for all recoverable photos on the SD card.

Within a few seconds a window will open with the list of all the images found by the program that can be recovered. Then select the files you want to restore (the intact items are those whose thumbnails you can see, the others are unfortunately unreadable), press on the Recover button and choose the folder where to save the files.

Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery (macOS)

Are you using macOS and SD photo recovery programs that are also available on Apple-branded computers that I told you about didn't satisfy you? Then try Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery. It is free, easy to use and allows you to recover almost any kind of deleted files from hard drives, memory cards and USB flash drives.

To use it, connect to the program's website and click the Free Download Now button to download the application to your Mac.

When the download is complete, open the obtained .dmg package and drag the application icon into the Applications folder of macOS. Then right-click on it and select Open twice in a row, so that Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery starts, but bypasses Apple's limitations on non-certified developers (this is done only the first time you start it). Next, type in your user account password on macOS and click the OK button.

In the window that pops up on your desktop at this point, select the Undelete option, click on the memory card entry that contained the photos that have been deleted and that you want to recover and click the Start Search button. Then wait for the memory card analysis process to start and complete.

You will then be able to find the deleted items found by expanding the Lost File Results folder in the left sidebar, while the full list of reference files will be shown on the right. If the photos to be recovered are not located in the folder in question, try to search for them in the folder named Lost or in its source folder by selecting the respective paths from the sidebar.

To conclude, place a checkmark next to the names of the photos to restore (the preview is shown below), click on the Save Files button and indicate the folder where you want to save the selected items.

If it helps you, I'll tell you that by going to the File type tab (on the left side of the program window) you can see the files that Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery has recovered according to their extension, while using the search bar at the top you can search for the images that interest you by name.

App to recover photos from SD

Do you have an Android smartphone or tablet with microSD support? Then know that you can recover deleted photos from your card without having to use your computer, using some specially designed applications. You're asking me which ones? Well, the ones I have indicated below are, in my humble opinion, the best in their category. Try them now and you won't regret it.

  • DiskDigger - this is one of the most effective apps in the genre. It's free, in the basic version that only allows the recovery of images, otherwise you have to buy the paid version at a cost of 3.37 euros. In addition, it has a nice user interface and does a great job.
  • Undeleter - another useful app to recover photos from SD. Compared to DiskDrigger it's a bit slower in finding files but it's still able to perform the task at hand. You can download and use it for free just to recover images, while for other types of files you need to make in-app purchases starting from 4.38 euros.

Note: both of these apps need root permissions to work. If you need to learn more about this, I recommend reading my guide on how to root on Android.

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