I can't be the only one who formatted his memory card without saving all the pictures to a computer first. If it happened to you too, then you know it's not exactly the best situation to be in. If you are lucky, there were just a couple of spoiled shots that aren't worth the effort, but what do you do when the images that you've accidentally deleted are actually important and you need to get them back? Stick with me, and I'll show you how to retrieve them.
We've already talked about tools that help you recover lost data in a previous article. However, this time I'll show you how to use a couple of the best free file recovery applications and get your pictures back from your memory cards.
The first thing you need to do as soon you realize that you accidentally deleted your images is take the card out of the camera to make sure the device won't overwrite over the deleted data. Secondly, you need to have a card reader because otherwise it's going to be pretty hard to read the data
Since this was the best ranked free tool in our top 10, I thought we should focus on Recuva. You start by going here, downloading the application and installing it on your computer. The first thing that you'll see is a wizard window that asks you to select the type of files that you want to recover. Here we only talk about images (so click on Pictures), but you can recover almost any other kind of files with this tool, really.
After selecting to search for images, navigate through the menu until the application asks you for the desired location and then select the root directory of your camera. In most cases it will be a directory called either DCIM, the name of the camera or the name of the manufacturer. If the folder itself got deleted as well, then simply select the entire drive, and you are good to go.
Once you've chosen the target, press the scan button and stand by for the results. As soon as the process is completed (it might take a while depending on the storage capacity if your card), you can browse through the list of found files and choose the ones that you want to save. The application provides you with full details about each entry, the state of the file (how likely it is that the tool will be able to recover it) and a preview to help ensure that that's the exact file you want. After you have selected all the images that you need, click on the Recover button, choose the destination folder and you're done.
In case the files you were looking for didn't show up, click on the button that says Switch to advanced mode. From there you will be able to add more file types to be included in the scan and simply repeat the process.
Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery (for Mac)
In case you are an OS X user, then Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery is one of the best tools to help you recover your lost images. Just like in the previous example, connect the memory card through the card reader, download the application, then install and launch it. Now click on Recover Photo, Audio & Video option to instruct the program to search for media files.
In the left side of the window, there is a panel that allows you to choose the drive that you want to scan. Select the memory card, and then choose between the regular scan and the advanced option. (From my point of view, the advanced scanning option is only worth it for "long shots" such as pictures that you have lost a long time ago and may have gotten overwritten.)
Just like in the previous case, Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery will return a list of results and all you have to do is select the ones that you actually wish to recover. My colleague who reviewed this application had some issues with previewing the files in the result lists, so there is a chance that you'll have a bit of trouble, but the tool worked perfectly fine for me.