sad-2One day you will need this information…

Yikes! You got those once in a lifetime pictures of you and your honey having the dream vacation around the world…
or your kid scoring the winning goal at the state championships…
or your daughter getting married…

And you can’t get the pictures off of the camera card!

Yeah, it happens. Digital media, whether compact flash, SD cards, thumb drives and even hard dries FAIL.

At the worse possible time.


Here’s some good news though. Depending on what happened and what you do as soon as you realize you have a problem, you have a fair to great chance to get some or all of the pictures back!

Here are some recommendations – I have heard good reviews of these two but have not used them:

artplus logoDigital Photo Recovery 3 – (free, Windows) – a good little program the focuses on recovering files from all types of camera cards

photorescue logoPhotoRescue – ($29, free trial, Windows and Mac) – a more full featured recovery program for all type of digital camera media

I personally use these two:

easeus logoEaseus Data Recovery – ($89.95, Windows) – a powerful software that not only recovers camera cards but also hard drives and other media like flash drives. I especially like it because it keeps the original file names and structure (as far as it is able to). I use this one first – it is an easy interface, does a good to great job of recovering and is fast. It’s worth the $89.95.

PC Inspector boxPC Inspector – – (Free, Windows) – a really powerful software that is free. I use their File Recovery as I find it works better than the Smart Recovery software. The user interface is kind of strange and hard to figure out, it’s slower than other programs, and it renames the files. To it’s advantage it’s, well, FREE, and digs really deep onto disks – recovering files the others miss. I use it if the Easeus Data Recovery can’t find what I’m looking for.

Keeps these points in mind:

  • All media fails – make sure you have good backups -especially of hard drives.
  • If you think a drive is acting funny – STOP and immediately copy those valuable files somewhere else.
  • If a card fails – do not continue to shoot- put it away and don’t use it until you can try and recover it. If you use it, it might overwrite the very files you are trying to recover.
  • Take a deep breath. Relax. Call a friend. And then recover.

Have you ever had to recover files? What did you use? Leave us a comment with your story!


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About the author

Stan brings to the site a long career in the photo industry from working as a professional photographer to 13 years with Kodak to his present position asDirector or Marketing with Advanced Photographic Solutions color lab.Having spent all his adult life in the photo industry, Stan discovered the wild world of digiscrap through wife Jenn (better known as ScrapKitty Design). Even 12 years of teaching Photoshop and digital imaging to photographers didn't prepare him for the wild and wooly world of digi-crops, so he sticks to teaching classes and writing about photography and PS/PSE on their blog Stan and Jenn are transplanted Yankees in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and would not live in lake effect snow again if you paid them.


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  3. Caroline B. says:

    OMG, unfortunately, YES ! I loose the 6 firts months of my unique daughter !
    Cruel Life !
    It was 5 years ago, some may not exist anymore, don’t need them other time (Fingers crossed)
    I try a lot of programs (may be some were not at the top with the tryout release ??) :

    – OnTrack Easy Recovery
    – Davory Data Recovery
    – Magic Data recovery
    – File Scavenger (this works very weel for me)
    – Recover It All !
    – Active Uneraser
    – VirtualLAb Data Recovery
    – Acronis Recovery Expert

    I think it was all… the better for me was File Scavenger, but I loose files definitivelly !

    Caroline B.’s last blog post..Awards

  4. I’ll keep these in mind for the camera card scenario – one of my huge fears when going on vacation.

    As for hard drive – I use carbonite to back up all my files. My hard drive had a catastrophic failure last November and I cried buckets. Thank God I had it all backed up with carbonite – it took three weeks to download all my files back onto my newly repaired hard drive but it was totally worth it. I had 95 GB worth of data that was at risk of being totally lost.

    Creative Junkie’s last blog post..DISCLAIMER: There will be no pictures of any body parts, naked or otherwise, in this post

    • Stan says:

      One of our follow-up posts is going to be on backing up of media – particularly hard drives.

      As regards vacation pictures: I had all of our vacation pictures on two compact flash cards in my shorts pocket AND WASHED AND DRIED THEM! Luckily, they were…perfectly fine. (not recommended – though it cleaned up my pictures!)

  5. At least now if the worst happens, we will know what to do.


    JanMary, N Ireland’s last blog post..Clothes Line!

  6. Mel aka Mom_of_5 says:

    “Knock on wood” I’ve never had to recover anything yet!

    Mel aka Mom_of_5’s last blog post..The Last Day

  7. Dielle says:

    great info, thanks!

    Dielle’s last blog post..Welcome sweet one!

  8. Zanne says:

    This is oh so true. I hear too many digi scrappers that really totally on a hard drive to store their pictures, layouts & digi kits. Then they are so surprised when the drive crashes.

    Can’t say back up enough!

    Thanks for the recovery software suggestions!

  9. Bunny says:

    Jenn, thank you so much for not only visiting, but taking the time to leave a comment! I wish you so much luck in your weight loss! I am here if you ever want to chat, believe me when I say I truly appreciate your time!

    Thank you!!!
    ~Bunny Cates

    Bunny’s last blog post..A weighty update…

  10. Thanks for sharing such a valuable information.

  11. […] check.  Triple check if you are really neurotic.  (A side note – see our post about  recovering digital camera cards, including ones you accidentally format. You might need it if you don’t pay attention to this […]

  12. This article is really great. thanks for such a good post.
    .-= photo recovery´s last blog ..Photo Recovery| Photo Recovery Software – Recover deleted or lost photo from memory cards =-.

  13. […] know Jenn and I have written on the importance of digital scrapbookers backing up your important files. Now one of the best on-line backup services Mozy is offering a huge discount […]

  14. […] squeeze toy from Western Digital reminds me to back up! in a cute way. We’ve talked about the importance of digital scrapbookers backing up before, but it’s always good to stress the point […]

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