CAN I RECOVER PHOTOS FROM A DAMAGED MEMORY CARD?

Mario’s Note:  Following a popular complaint from many readers, today by Iaio’s hand we will discover tricks to recover photos from a damaged memory card.

One of the main components that usually goes unnoticed in the eyes of many photographers today is the camera’s memory card . It could be said that this, next to the sensor, replaces what was once the function of the film. Both opened the doors to the era of digital photography.

The memory cards, beyond having no mobile components, are not free from failures, problems and accidental erasures, which can lead to nervous breakdown. This is why I have prepared this simple guide so you can recover your photographs, or at least, for you to try. For trying not to remain

HOW DO FLASH MEMORIES WORK?

It is not the time or place to delve into how the technical operation of memory cards is , since the process is difficult to explain and understand and also does not come much to the case, but here I leave a small approximation so that You can get an idea (if you mess with the technical explanations and you are not very interested, you can skip this part):

Basically, these memories work in a similar way to the RAM of the devices and computers we use on a daily basis, with the difference that flash memories, within which are SD, work by storing information in a non-volatile way , that is to say, that it is not erased when the power is cut off, the camera is turned off or when they are removed from any device, as is the case with RAM. As I said before, these memories do not have moving parts such as computer hard drives, the information is stored in small chips that guarantee a lot more speed, greater durability and a very small size.

This is why these types of memories have become the best option for our cameras to store photographs.

A Memory Card inside

WHY CAN INFORMATION BE LOST?

Just as photographers who use roll or film cameras suffer when one of them is veiled, those who use digital cameras do so when memories are damaged. But not only the damage to the file system is responsible for so much panic, but also accidents when removing photographs, bring more fire to this fire.

The main causes of having to recover the data are:

  • Photos accidentally deleted from memory.
  • Accidental formatting.
  • Card errors that do not allow access or viewing of files.
  • Virus infection
  • An energy failure
  • Turn off the camera while it works with the files.
  • Remove the memory with the camera on.
  • Store them in conditions contrary to the manufacturer’s recommendations: humidity, heat, etc.
Memory Card Error

WHAT TO DO TO RECOVER YOUR ACCIDENTALLY LOST PHOTOGRAPHS?

The first thing to do is not panic, take a deep breath and carefully read the following recommendations I have for you:

Stop using memory:

If you have accidentally deleted photographs or if your camera or computer tells you that the memory is not formatted or that they do not have any files inside, it is important that you do not get carried away by despair and do not try any crazy procedure that can damage files that, Incredible as it may seem, they are still inside.

When a memory card becomes damaged or files are accidentally deleted from it, the data will remain stored there, at least until you overwrite it. If, they are still there, the files remain stored in the storage sectors of your memory card and as long as you do not “step on them” with new files (new photos), it is very likely that you can still recover them, even if you have already formatted it.

Connect the card to the computer:

In order to work more comfortably and safely, I recommend that you use a memory card reader to connect it to the computer. The passage through it is forced in this instance since there is no way to perform this procedure directly from the camera.

If you do not have a memory card reader yet, I recommend that you get one as it is an accessory, from my point of view, essential. With it you avoid constantly using the camera as a means of connection with the computer, which could cause:

  • Damage due to excessive use of the camera’s USB connection card.
  • The need to have drivers for the different operating systems where you can connect it.

Recover your files:

In order to access the files stored deep in your memory, it is necessary that you use a program developed specifically for this task. With just a search on the Internet, you will find many free options and others not so much to recover your photographs. Here are some programs that I have used and with which I have obtained very good results:

  1. Recuva: an easy, simple and fast option when recovering all types of deleted files from both computers and flash drives. Using a wizard will guide you through the different recovery options it offers and the types of files you are looking for. A very good option is that it allows you to preview the photographs before recovering them and with just a couple of clicks you will have recovered them.
  2. Czar: it is a small but powerful program that performs a much deeper analysis than the Recuva. Being more powerful is also slower, an analysis of a small card can take a few hours. It is extremely useful if the card is so damaged that neither Windows recognizes it. The free version of this software will only allow you to recover photographic files.
  3. Card Recovery:  of all the image recovery programs that I know this is the one that takes the longest time, and when I talk about a lot, I say a lot of time, but it is really effective, and like the Czar also allows you to recover files on memory cards Not recognized by the computer. Just be calm that as you find files you list them on the screen so at any time of the analysis you can stop it and recover the files listed until then. The free version has a limit of possible full scans.
  4. File Scavenger: this powerful application has saved me countless times so despite being paid, if you are willing to pay, I assure you that you will make every euro invested.
  5. Recover my photos: recovering photos is very simple thanks to this program, which like the File Scavenger, despite being paid, is an excellent option to consider for those willing to spend a few euros on it. It has a version for technicians and specialists although its cost is really high.
Recover

FINALLY, SOME TIPS TO MINIMIZE RISKS

Buy  Quality: to the extent that your budget allows, buy quality memory cards. They are divided into classes, and these classify the memories with respect to the writing speed with which they work, so class 2 memories are much slower, and therefore less reliable, than class 10.

Be patient: when you finish taking your photographs, do not hurry to remove the card from the camera to download them to the computer. It may be that, although the flashing light does not tell us, information that we will truncate in the rush is still processed. Be equally careful about suddenly turning off the camera after using it to avoid the same problem.

Memory cards

Make periodic backups: one of the most important ways to mitigate the risks regarding the loss of photographs resulting from failures or errors is to make frequent backups of them.

Do not trust yourself: before the first error message of the camera regarding flash memory failures, stop using that memory. It may have been just something momentary that is solved by turning the camera off and on, but it is a very important indication that something is failing. He who warns not betray.

Do not throw away the cases: that little plastic box in which the memories usually come is not only a piece of packaging that the manufacturer included to make the product more beautiful, but they are designed to protect the memories from possible shocks, the moisture and all the physical damage that your memory may suffer.

Divide and succeed: it is a good strategy to reduce risk and prevent significant loss of information, use several memory cards of smaller capacity instead of a large one. If one of them fails, you will still have a large part of your work safe in the others.

Perform maintenance: as you use your memory, connect it from device to device, fill it and download it, the file system becomes “dirty”. A good way to clean it is by formatting it from time to time. I do not recommend that you do it constantly, but yes, if you have been using this card on more than one computer at the same time.

General condition: you can also pay attention to the wear suffered by its connectors and the plastic cover that protects them, since if they are very worn it is more likely that you may have some inconvenience in the short term.

Be careful: despite being resistant devices, you should not trust and not take care of them as you really deserve the place where your photographs will be stored, at least until you download them to the computer. Keep them away from moisture, heat and shock as any of them in excess can cause damage that you can not repair with any software.

Damaged memory card

It is not always possible to recover information from a memory when the damage it suffered is not at the level of its data structure, but is physical. But if you are very careful with it, the card will accompany you throughout many photographs.


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