How to Recover Lost Files from a Memory Card

Whether you’re a novice or veteran photographer, chances are you’ve experienced a moment of dread when you thought all of your precious photos were lost forever. Maybe you damaged a SD or CF card, or accidentally formatted a card before offloading your images. As long as your memory card can still be plugged in to, and recognized by your computer, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to salvage your photos, even if you did an accidental deletion. Sometimes you can achieve this all by yourself, and recover your lost files.

There are many programs and apps that can help you recover data from a memory card, but the one I’m going to introduce you to is SanDisk RescuePRO. Created by the same folks who produce trusty SanDisk memory cards, RescuePRO has in my experienced maintained the same reliability and quality that one can expect from SanDisk products. Their recovery program is straightforward, easy to use, and does a great job at recovering lost photos. So before you make an appointment with an IT professional, give this memory card recovery method a try.

SanDisk Recovery PRO memory card recovery

About SanDisk RescuePRO

RescuePRO is a downloadable, data recovery program available for Mac or Windows. Using proprietary media recovery algorithms, RescuePro will scan your memory card and display previews of any recoverable data such as photos (JPG and most RAW formats), video, and audio. The software will work with most brands of digital cameras and memory card types including; SD, SDHC, CompactFlash, Memory Stick, CDs, and DVDs.

There are two versions of RescuePRO, regular and deluxe, with the main difference other than price being in the extra formats of photos and video/audio that deluxe promises to recover. RescuePRO has a fee of $39.99 for the regular version and $59.99 for deluxe, but they do offer a free evaluation so you can verify if the program will work with your memory card before you purchase. Payment buys you a one year subscription, which must be renewed annually to continue using the service. But on the bright side, this is a small price to pay if you stand to recover important photos or videos.

How RescuePRO Works

1. After you buy a subscription, download the RescuePRO program to your desktop computer. Insert your memory card into your computer and launch RescuePRO. The below menu will pop up on your screen, and you’ll want to select the option that’s relevant to your needs: either Recover Photos, Recover Video/Audio, or Recover All Files.

SanDisk Recovery PRO memory card recovery

2. After you select your desired outcome, the below screen will prompt you to select the memory card in question. Be sure you have your memory card connected to the computer. Select your card and hit the green Start button.

SanDisk Recovery PRO memory card recovery

3. Now it’s time to sit tight and let the program do its thing. Feel free to pull up an Internet browser or Photoshop and multitask as you wait. Data recovery from your memory card can take a bit of time depending on how many files there are to be retrieved. In this particular instance, I had 927 files to recover from my CF card and it took about 30 minutes.

SanDisk Recovery PRO memory card recovery

4. When the program is done recovering data, it unfortunately doesn’t do a great job at alerting you. There’s no fanfare, but you’ll know the recovery process is done when you see the bottom portion of the screen filled with recovered files. To verify what content the program has recovered, click on each individual file name and a preview will appear. In this particular instance, the previewed images were showing up tinted in pink, but the actual recovered images were just fine without any distortions.

SanDisk Recovery PRO memory card recovery

5. Once you verify that your files have indeed been saved, it’s time to locate them on your computer. The great part about RescuePRO’s long recovery process is that it includes saving the files on your device automatically. As a result, all you have to do to find the desktop folder full of your recovered images is click on the giant Output Folder button. The program should then pull up a desktop window like the one below, showing you a folder full of recovered data. Also, notice in the preview below that the recovered image does indeed, not carry over the extra coloring that RescuePRO’s software assigned to it in the preview.

SanDisk Recovery PRO memory card recovery

There you have it; a relatively simple, low cost way, to potentially get back precious photos that you thought were lost. Either way, do yourself a favor and remember to always format your memory card in your camera (not your computer) after every use; doing this will keep your memory card up to speed, and lessen the chance of it becoming corrupt over time.

Since this is one of many options, let me know in the comments below if you have a preferred method or program for recovering lost images.

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