SD Cards: Photo Recovery With Freeware

by Marshal M. Rosenthal

An SD memory card is used in digital cameras as the storage media for photos taken. A corruption in the file structure of the SD memory card will render those pictures being stored unreadable. Recover the photos by using a free photo recovery program on a PC. There are a number of these "freeware" programs available, and they all operate in a similar manner. An SD card adapter will also be needed, since most PCs do not have an SD card slot built in.

Download a freeware version of a photo recovery program to the PC's desktop--for example, the free Recuva program, the free EASEUS Deleted File Recovery program or the free MJM Free Photo Recovery program (see Resource section). Double-click the file once downloaded. Follow the menu prompts to install the program onto the PC's hard drive. Restart the PC once the installation is completed.

Right-click on the desktop. Select "New folder" from the pop-up menu. Name the folder "Recovered photos."

Insert the slotted end of the SD memory card into the slot on the SD card adapter. Insert the SD card adapter's USB plug into a USB port on the PC. Wait for the icon of the SD memory card to appear on the desktop before proceeding.

Launch the Photo Recovery program by selecting it from the "Start," "All Applications" pop-up menu.

Click once on the name of the SD memory card that appears in a column near the top of the program's window. Select the highest number possible from the "File Size" or "Maximum File Size" drop-down menu near the bottom of the window. Click the "Deep Scan" or "Full Scan" button at the bottom of the window if time is not an issue--otherwise leave it unchecked.

Click the "Search" or "Locate file(s)" button near the bottom right side of the window. Wait as the name of photos that are on the SD memory card appear in a new window; the photos may appear as a series of individual thumbnail pictures or as text names.

Click once on the name or image of a photo to recover; hold down the "Shift" key while selecting photos if more than one at a time are to be recovered. Click the "Recover" or "Restore" button at the bottom of the window.

Wait as a progress bar appears at the bottom of the window and fills in from left to right. Click the "Save To" or "Destination" button at the bottom of the window when it is no longer dimmed.

Navigate in the window that appears to the "Recovered photos" folder on the desktop. Double-click the "Recovered photos" folder. Click the "Save" button at the bottom of the window. Quit the Photo Recovery program once the window disappears.

Right-click the icon of the SD memory card that is on the desktop. Select "Eject" from the pop-up menu. Remove the SD card adapter from the USB port of the PC. Remove the SD memory card from the SD card adapter.


  • close Formatting the SD memory card in a PC will remove any corruption in the file structure, but will also delete all of the photos.

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About the Author

Marshal M. Rosenthal is a technology maven with more than 15 years of editorial experience. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography with a Bachelor of Arts in photographic arts, his editorial work has appeared both domestically as well as internationally in publications such as "Home Theater," "Electronic House," "eGear," "Computer and Video Games" and "Digitrends."

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera SD Card Toolbox image by Ron-Heidelberg from