I thought I would share with you a great disk recovery application called PhotoRec (bundled with TestDisk). Here is the blurb from the website: “PhotoRec is file data recovery software designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from hard disks, CD-ROMs, and lost pictures (thus the Photo Recovery name) from digital camera memory. PhotoRec ignores the file system and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media’s file system has been severely damaged or reformatted. PhotoRec is free – this open source multi-platform application is distributed under GNU General Public License. PhotoRec is a companion program to TestDisk, an app for recovering lost partitions on a wide variety of file systems and making non-bootable disks bootable again. You can download them from here.
For more safety, PhotoRec uses read-only access to handle the drive or memory card you are about to recover lost data from.
Last weekend I carried out a portrait shoot using my 8 GB Sandisk Ultra II CF card. I’d started to notice strange things happening a couple of months beforehand. Having got home from a concert shoot and inserting the disk into my PC’s integral card reader, I was greeted with the message ‘This device is not formatted…do you want to format it now?’ Erm…NO!I re-inserted the card into my camera and could view all of the images. I tried again in the PC card reader… same problem. Tried on my backup PC and it worked fine. OK, it seems I have a faulty card reader. This happened a couple of times on other shoots, and the card always read in my backup PC. Occasionally, it worked in my main PC… until last weekend.
To make matters worse and to cause me to break out in a cold sweat, the card no longer read on the backup PC, displaying the same formatting message. To my horror, it gave me the same message when I checked the card back in the camera. It turns out I had a corrupted disk. This was probably caused by not ejecting the card correctly from the PC’s card reader. After falling into the usual trap of downloading the promising freeware/shareware applications that taunt you with how many files they can recover, but only if you pay for the full version, I stumbled across this beauty of a free, open source application. Not only did it rescue all my valuable lost images, it recovered images from the previous three shoots, even though a number of them were deleted on-camera at time of shooting and the card had been completely formatted in-camera a number of times.
As the official blurb says ‘PhotoRec ignores the file system and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media’s file system has been severely damaged or reformatted.’ My card ticked all the boxes! The whole process took less than 20 minutes on an 8 GB card and gave me back the files in their original Canon RAW .CR2 format.
I’ve since tried it on other cards and recovered full shoots from formatted cards including images I remember deleting on-camera. A sheer piece of genius if you ask me, and an absolute lifesaver. I’ve detailed the process steps below with screen grabs, using a working but formatted card, so some of the information will look a little different to a totally Fubar’ed card.
Step 1: Download the…