Corrupted memory card

Free • Recovering Corrupted Memory Card

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…


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33 Comments added to Free • Recovering Corrupted Memory Card

  1. ankitchaudhary2050@gmail.comA

    my memory card was broked, is ur software work on this

  2. Evan

    THANKS! <3

  3. Renerio

    this is an amazing app.. life saver! thank youuuu!!!!

  4. Angelique

    Thank you so much! It worked for me. :)

  5. sohag

    Thanks a lot buddy

  6. lauren panoy

    Here’s what the program says : “1586 files saved in testdisk-6.14-WIP/recup_dir directory.” Where can I find that folder please.

  7. keisarinvaimo

    You are the best!! It’s totally working and It was going to kill my happy mood because my photos and videos were lost from my camera memory card, which I took in the very same day (today). Thanks a lot!

  8. vaibhav

    its good

  9. Suraj Mehta

    i than u sooooooooooo much its just worked nd save my all memories thank u so much….

  10. varun

    My MicroSD Transcend 16Gb doesn’t shows up in the list, how shall I proceed?

  11. Ray

    Thank you sooooo much!! Worked perfectly

  12. joy yasmin

    your article really helped me a lot. thank you so much

  13. Prathyush

    I have the same problem mentioned above, So i used your software but my memory card only showing 1024 MB while it is 8 GB(Transcend). So what can i do to retrieve my datas. I have to change any setup from Bios. Plz tell me i have data worth of 9 months in it.


    • Editor (Author)

      As we have already said before, we can’t help you any further than this tutorial. If it doesn’t work for you, I’m afraid you might have to continue your research.

  14. Het

    woww..can’t believe… got my all lost pisc n other data… thank you sooo much yaar… ;)

  15. Abhishek

    superb!!! :) better than all the useless apps…

  16. Swift

    Help me my PSP MEM0RICARD Is not sh0wing after I formated it cos it g0t c0rupted!

  17. I tried my best by your process, but it can not backup the data from my 4GB Memory Card.
    The recovery backup data folder shows nothing. What can I do ?

    • Editor (Author)

      Hi Navin

      The help we can provide can be seen in the post above. Besides our findings and the detailed procedure here, there is no more help we can offer. If this procedure does not work for you, we have no idea what else you can do.

  18. KeenJeen

    Excellent post. Manage to restore all my photos as the file system for the SD card is completely corrupted.

    Thank you :)

  19. Mary

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart .. thank you so much it's perfect <3 !

  20. HItesh

    Hello ,
    I cant read my memory card in my computer . I have very important things in tht . PLz help me out . This software is not working

  21. prem

    i am so happy to got my lost data
    thanks so much Dear !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    you are Genius

  22. Jade

    I opened the program, but my SD card which is under the F disk doesn't show up, neither does the name of my SD card or anything that points to it. . . . HELP !

    • Editor (Author)

      My apologies but this article was submitted by one of our readers in order to help others. You will need to reed the instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. If you are not confident enough to proceed, I would suggest to get someone else to help. It is impossible for us to know what is going on in your PC.

      I understand this is not the answer you were expecting but it is the only one I can give you. I believe you need to be slightly advanced with computers to follow the article. I am a mac user myself and haven’t used this little program, hopefully someone else might be able to help you.

  23. patty

    I. trying this and it gives me a msg that I should deactivate my antivirus because it's blocking the application, should I do that? it seems kinda fishy to me. I'm having a similar issue where my memory stick is being read by my laptop however when I try to see the files I can't but if I check them from my camera the files are all there. What should I do? :(

    • Editor (Author)

      Hello Patty

      No one can tell you what you should do, you need to make this decision yourself. If this helps, I believe that your antivirus system thinks the software is not legitimate, however, many people have tried it and it works fine. Going ahead with this will be your own choice.

  24. Prabin

    it completely awesome i protected my card…thank you

  25. Sherry

    THANK YOU so much for posting this! I just had an experience with a corrupt card (it was recalled by the manufacturer for this problem) and this worked for me. I tried a different site from first and that did not work. This however did. I am soooo grateful, it recovered about 2500 lost pics and videos. i will definitely be making a contribution to their website.
    Thanks again for the posting!

  26. Nice one. Added for future reference.

    I did something similar a few years ago – told linux to erase as it offloaded, which it misinterpreted as `erase and then fail to offload then sit and gibber for a while. In my case, I found (also open-source) which rescued the JPEGs – luckily I'd been shooting both RAW+JPEG – and one of them is now a portfolio image of mine!

    Incidentally, it should be pointed out how this fits in a maximum-safety workflow:
    a) every session starts by formatting the card, in camera
    b) you offload, backup, process, backup some more
    c) all the while you're processing, the card has the raw images
    d) goto A.

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