How to Recover photo files from SD Card MMC with PhotoRec

Among the main cause for loosing digital photographs are corrupted filesystems, and accidental SD card formatting. These photographs are still recoverable using photo recovery softwares available on the internet.

However, a quick survey on the internet reveals that most of the commercially available photo recovery software are either too expensive or is not available for Linux users.

How to Recover photo files with Photorec
Enter Photorec, a free and open source file recovery software from CGSecurity. As the name implies, photorec was originally developed to recover photo files from flash/memory card.

It has since been expanded to support more file types covering popular document files (doc,xls,mdb), archives (zip,rar,gz,bz2,tar) and multimedia files (mp3,wav,avi,mpeg).

Here’s how to recover your lost files using Photorec :

Assuming you are using Ubuntu Linux, install photorec using by running “apt-get install testdisk”.

Other operating system users might want to download photorec here – TestDisk download

Insert SD Card/MMC and execute photorec by typing “sudo photorec”.

Select SD Card device you wish to recover from Photorec startup screen.

Depending on SD Card/MMC configuration, you may be presented with the next screen. In any case, select “Whole Disk” option.

Select the types of file you wish to be recovered, in this case we will only be interested in recovering photo files.

Photorec will ask you for the location to store recovered files, it is advisable to put recovered files on separate disk (not partition) than the one being recovered.

The application will scan the entire SD Card/MMC for recoverable files and rescue it if possible. As an example, here’s the list of photographs that I recovered from a two years old faulty SD Card.

Photorec is a powerful files recovery software which is useful for rescuing lost files from corrupted filesystem/disk. It uses is not only limited to recovering photo files from SD card, but can also be extended to recover other types of files and media as well.

Photorec reads file header directly from storage device, which makes it flexible as it can recover files from any type of filesystem. Photorec is also available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and BSD operating system.

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