How to Recover Images from a Damaged SD card

Use software to recover your images

If you have a damaged SD card, you might be wondering whether there’s any way to recover the images from it. In fact, there are several ways to do this, but not all methods are equally effective.

If you’re lucky, your photos may still be on the memory card and ready for recovery. You’ll just need to find the right tool for the job and follow some simple steps. Fortunately, there are several excellent tools out there that can help with this task, including Recuva (Windows), PhotoRec (Linux) and TestDisk (Mac).


Recuva is a freemium software that can be used to recover deleted files for Windows. The initial version was released by Piriform in 2007. Recuva premium version can be purchased at $19.95

If you delete an important file, accidentally or due to virus damage, this program can help you to retrieve that file again. You can also retrieve files from memory cards, external drives, or other storage devices like mp3 players.

This tool is best used for systems that are not encrypted, since it only scans the hard disk drive looking for files, which cannot be encrypted.

PhotoRec (Linux)

PhotoRec is great software to recover lost files from hard drives and other external drives like USB and digital cameras.

You should know Unix commands to use the software. Maybe it is one of its cons because not so many people know how to use command lines to instruct a program to perform tasks.

PhotoRec works by finding a data block and return/recover all the files in the data block. It means that it is hard for the software to recover just a single file.

TestDisk (Mac)

TestDisk is an advanced utility to recover lost or deleted files on your computer. It allows you to repair and fix disk partitions, rebuild the boot sector, restore file systems, and other tasks.

TestDisk is an indispensable disk utility, but unless you have the right kind of computer knowledge, it may not be suitable for you. TestDisk has simple and clean interface like using the Unix command line.

Its cons: there is no graphical user interface, so it is not easy for people who don’t know Unix commands. Because of that, TestDisk may be suitable for experienced users and programmers only.

The software can also be used for Windows, not just Mac.

These programs allow you to scan your damaged SD card for files that may still be recoverable. They also allow you to copy files from drives that no longer appear as storage devices on Windows or MacOS X by mounting them as virtual disks in their respective operating systems.

TestDisk is a simple program that allows you to find all lost partitions on hard drives, fix disk errors, PhotoRec focuses on recovering deleted pictures and videos.

Things to remember:

If you have a damaged SD card, or you’ve lost data from it, don’t try to write new data on it. Doing so will make your problem worse. Instead, use your computer to remove all data from the card and then reinsert it into your device.

The first thing you should do is remove the card from your camera and insert it into a card reader on your computer. Once the card is recognized by Windows, open up My Computer and look for an icon for the SD card. Right-click on it and choose Properties from the drop-down menu.

In the Properties window, click on the Tools tab and then click “Restore Disk Space” at the bottom of the window. Your computer will attempt to repair any damaged files and then display a list of files in its drive that were recovered. If there are any photos that you want to save, go ahead and copy them over to another location like an external hard drive or cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

When your computer won’t recognize your SD card, it’s easy to assume that the card itself is broken. But if you’ve lost images on an SD card, it may be a simple matter of reformatting and reinstalling the SD card reader software on your computer.