How to Recover Data from SD Card

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Did you accidentally delete some from an SD card? Don't worry, it's not the last word yet. If the portion of memory on which your files were stored has not been occupied by other data yet, you may be able to recover both photos and videos using suitable software.

It takes a bit of luck, that's obvious, but if you follow carefully the suggestions on how to recover data from SD I'm about to give you - and especially if you act in time - you might make the situation less disastrous than expected. I'm sorry? Don't you want to recover not only videos and photos but also other types of files? No problem, you can do that too.

The programs I am going to tell you about are able to intervene on any type of information: from Microsoft Office documents to compressed archives, not forgetting music tracks and text files. Moreover, they are suitable not only for SD cards in standard format but also for microSD cards used in smartphones and tablets. In this regard, I would like to point out that special apps are available for Android devices that allow you to do this without having to go through your computer. In short, if I were you, I wouldn't waste any more time wasting time and I'd get straight to the action. Think about it, every second wasted could mean goodbye to another important file!

Programs to recover data from SD card

Are you interested in which programs you can use to recover data from SD? Then take a look at the resources that I have provided for this purpose below. There are some for both Windows and MacOS - as well as Linux - and they are quite easy to use. Try them to believe!

PhotoRec (Windows/macOS/Linux)

The first of the resources I want to suggest you to consider is PhotoRec. It is a free and open source software designed to restore deleted files. More specifically, it deals with data recovery from SD cards, USB sticks and hard drives (both internal and external). It is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, but in the latter two cases it has no user interface, which is why I chose to offer you only the variane for Microsoft's oprative systems. Please note that the software comes with TestDisk, a program suitable for recovering damaged partitions and disks.

To download PhotoRec to your PC, connect to its official website and click the Windows 64-bit (if you are using 64-bit Windows) or Windows (if you are using 32-bit Windows) item in the middle of the page. Then open the ZIP file that contains the program, extract the contents to any folder and start PhotoRec by double-clicking the qphotorec_win.exe executable.

In the window that opens, expand the drop-down menu located at the top to select the drive where you inserted the SD card from which you want to recover data, indicate the main partition of the device (e.g. FAT32 xx/xxMiB) and put the checkmark next to the FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS and Free options.

Next, click on the File Formats button and choose which types of files to recover from the box that appears. Microsoft Office documents, photos, videos, music tracks and many other different file types are supported.

To finish, click the OK button, press the Navigate button to select the folder where you want to save the recovered data from PhotoRec and press the Search button to start the data recovery process.

DiskDrill (Windows/macOS)

Another great tool for file recovery from SD cards that you can use, both on Windows and MacOS, is DiskDrill. It also allows you to act on hard drives, SSD drives, USB sticks and various other external media. It is free, but it allows you to recover up to 500MB of data. To get around this limitation, you need to upgrade to the Pro version, which costs $89.

To download Disk Drill on Windows, visit the official website of the program and click on the Free Download button. Then open the file disk.drill-win.msi, click the Next button three times in a row and click the Yes and Close buttons.

If you are using macOS instead, connect to this other page of the software site and always click on the Free download button. Next, open the .dmg package you got, drag the software icon into the MacOS Applications folder, right-click on it and choose Open twice, so that the program will start and bypass Apple's limitations to non-certified developers (this is only to be done the first time you start it). Then click the Start button in the window that appears and type the password for your Mac user account.

Now that you see the main screen of the software regardless of the OS used, locate the drive related to the SD card from which you want to recover your files, click on the Recover button (on Windows) or Recover button (on Mac) placed in its correspondence and wait for the analysis process to start and complete.

To conclude, locate the files to recover by expanding the various folders found by the software, press on the magnifying glass icon (on Windows) or the eye icon (on Mac) placed next to their names if you want to preview them and click on Recover button (on Windows) or Recover button (on Mac) to save them on your computer.

Recover (Windows)

Recuva is one of the most reliable solutions for Windows side regarding the recovery of deleted data in general as well as of course from SD cards. It is free, rather simple and intuitive and is developed by the same software house as CCleaner, the famous PC cleaning and maintenance program (I told you about it in depth in my tutorial on how to download and use CCleaner).

To download it to your PC, go to its official website and click on the link under Recuva Free.

When the download is complete, launch rcsetupxx.exe and click the Yes button in the window that opens. Then select English from the language selection menu at the top right of the screen, uncheck the checkbox for the installation of any extra accessory programs (e.g. Google Chrome) and click the Install button in the middle. Then click on the Run Recuva button to complete the setup.

Now that you see the main Recuva window on your desktop, click on the Next button, put a check mark next to the All Files item (so you can recover all types of files) or next to the file type item to recover (e.g. Pictures, Music or Videos), click the Next button again, choose to start a Media Card or iPod scan and click the Next and Start buttons.

When scanning is complete, place a check mark next to the file names to recover, press the Recover button and select the folder where you want to save them. Keep in mind that only files with the green sticker next to them can be recovered 100%, while those with the orange sticker are partially damaged and those with the red sticker are unrecoverable.

Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery (macOS)

Do you use macOS and SD card data recovery solutions mentioned above did not convince you? Then use Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery! It is freeware, easy to use and allows you to "resurrect" all sorts of files not only from SD cards but also from hard drives and USB sticks.

To use it, go to the official website of the program and press the Free Download Now button to download the application to your Mac.

When the download is complete, open the resulting .dmg package and drag the application icon into your MacOS Applications folder. Next, right-click on it and select Open twice in a row to start Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery, but this will bypass Apple's restrictions on non-certified developers (this is only required the first time you start the application). Next, enter your user account password on macOS and click the OK button.

In the window that you now see on the screen, select the Undelete option, click on the memory card item that contained the deleted files that you want to restore and press the Start Search button to start the memory card analysis procedure.

Afterwards, you can view all the deleted items found by the program by expanding, from the left side bar, the Lost File Results folder, the Lost folder or the source folder. On the right side of the window, instead, there is the complete list of files.

Finally, check the box next to the names of the items to be restored (if preview is available, you can view it below), click on Save Files button and specify the location on your Mac where you want to save the recovered files.

Recover data from SD on Android

We now move on to apps for smartphones and tablets. As I told you at the beginning of this guide, there are also some useful apps to recover data from SD that can be used directly from your mobile device. But I'll tell you that they exist only for Android, for iOS there are none (due to the limitations imposed by Apple). To learn more, please continue reading.


If you use an Android smartphone or tablet with SD card support and you have unlocked your terminal using the root procedure (to learn more, read my guide on how to root on Android), you can recover deleted data from your SD card using the DiskDigger app. It is a resource capable of working on various types of files in a very simple and above all very effective way. It is available in two versions: a free version, which can recover only JPG, PNG and MP4 files, and a paid version (costs 3.37 euros), which also supports other types of images and videos, music tracks, compressed archives and many types of digital documents.

To find out how it works, download it from the relevant section of the Play Store using the links I provided earlier, start it and press the Grant button to run it with root permissions. Then press the No, thanks button to refuse the upgrade to the Pro version of the application (in case you were using the Free version) and choose the drive to search for files to recover (it should be the one selected by default).

Push the OK button and wait for the SD card scan to be completed. When it's done, place a checkmark next to the previews of the files to be recovered and press on the floppy disk icon in the top right corner to save them (by selecting Save selected files locally from the menu that appears). And voilà!


Another resource that I strongly recommend you consider is Undeleter. It is an application for recovering data deleted from Android, both from the internal memory of the device and from the memory card that may be inserted in it. Basically it's free, but it only allows you to restore images. To expand its functionality, you must unlock the Pro version through in-app purchases (paying 4.99 euros), which allows you to recover other types of files as well. It should be noted that, as in the case of DiskDrigger, to work correctly the device in use must have been unlocked via root.

To use it, download it from the relevant section of the Play Store, launch it, and tap its Next and Grant buttons on the displayed screen to allow it to run with root permissions.

Next, choose the Restore files option, select the drive for the inserted memory card of the device from which you want to recover your data and go to the Deep Scan section. Then tick next to the types of files you want to recover and press the Scan button.

When the scanning process is complete, select the files you want to restore, tap on the three dotted button at the top right and from the menu that opens, select the Save file item to complete the recovery process. That was easy, wasn't it?

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