recover accidently deleted photos

It happens to all of us, in fact, it has just happened to me! You discover that you have accidentally deleted all the photos on your memory card before saving them to your computer. But all is not lost, provided the card is not faulty it should be easy to get most (or all) of them back.

First – do not take any more photos or add any more data to this card. Keep it separate until you can safely deal with it at home.

Software to recover files

Many cards come with free image recovery software. If yours did not, there are free and effective solutions you can download off the internet.You could spend $45 or so on recovery software, but the software I use is free. I have tried several different recovery programs and I like Recuva. It is as effective as the bought versions at recovering files and is easy to use.

The following steps outline the process of recovering photos with Recuva, but other programs will work in a very similar way.

Recovery process

Download and install Recuva (it will ask if you want to install Yahoo toolbar, you probably don’t want that!)

Insert the card with the deleted photos.

Start Recuva and select the drive letter that corresponds to your card.recuva1

Clicking on ‘Scan’ will show a list of all the files that could be recovered. You can see where they were, and how likely it is that they will be recovered properly.

Select the files you want to recover (or use the top selection box to select all the files). Click on the ‘Recover’ button to start recovering. You will be asked to use or create a folder where you would like to put the recovered files.


Once it is completed, you will see how many files were not successfully recovered. Unsuccessful files are usually because the file has been overwritten by new data. Last time I did this (this morning), I had 210 files (197 were actually photos) successfully recovered, one failed. The recovered files included photos from 2 1/2 months ago, so a small amount of sorting was needed.


Hopefully this demonstrates how easy it is to recover from disaster. Finally Being able to recover relies on you being able to stop using the card, so it is helpful to always carry a spare card in case this happens while you are out shooting.

This software works excellently for recovering deleted photos or files (including on hard disks). What you should not try is recovering from a failing disk or damaged card (unless you are willing to risk permanent loss). Damaged disks or cards can require more specialist methods to recover data, but this will come at a price.

As an exercise, why not try this method out and see what is still recoverable from the card in your camera now? Being familiar with the procedure is a useful skill to avert disaster.