Skip to main content

How to Recover Deleted Photos from SD Card

Submitted on 12/13/2018

One of the frequent problems among Android and iOS users is losing photos from SD Card. There exist reliable ways restore deleted photos from memory card for such cases. Unlike internal storage, SD Card can be connected to the computer, which makes things easier as you can use recovery soft without limitations.

We are going to explore Recuva, a tool that we’ve mentioned a lot, and give you a step by step tutorial on using its features in photo recovery. By the way, this guide is applicable to other types of files.

When are photos lost from SD Card?

In most cases it’s caused by:

  • Accidental deletion of photos
  • Transferring files from memory card to internal memory and the other way round
  • Errors after incorrect unmount
  • Corrupted files on SD Card
  • Memory card format error

What do I need to restore files?

Basically, you don’t need anything extraordinary to restore files on your own at home:

  • computer/laptop to install software on
  • card reader to connect memory card
  • memory card from which files were deleted
  • patience and accuracy for faultless result

1. Take out SD Card from your phone

Take out SD Card from your device (smartphone, tablet, digital camera or other device where it was used). It has to be done to avoid accidental overwriting of the data on it.

2. Install recovery software

Free card recovery software software isn’t less effective than many paid analogues (which you can test any time). Besides, why not start with a free solution which may turn to be pretty helpful.

We are going to use Recuva tool. It restores images and in fact should support any photo format be it jpg, png, raw, gif or others. There is a version for Windows but none for Android yet unfortunately.

Download Recuva Software

Install Recuva on any partition of your computer– data was deleted from SD Card.

3. Select media formats

  1. At the start you’ll be greeted by Welcome to Recuva Wizard. This step by step recovery guide is meant to assist newbies: simply answer a few basic questions to get the result.
  2. Press Next, you’ll be offered to select among file types. Check the box next to the image file formats. You can just skip filtering formats, it doesn’t even affect scan speed. Yet, you will have to filter restored files by hand, and it’s not that much fun to sort hundreds of photos.
  3. Choose Pictures and tap Next.

4. Connect SD Card to the computer

  1. Connect card reader (with SD Card in it) to your computer or laptop. The instruction on it is given [here].
  2. In File location specify the location files were deleted from.

Tip. Not to waste time on scanning other directories you can create a separate folder. If you are not certain whether you want to enhance chances for sd card data recovery, choose root directory.

Where are files stored on my device?

As a rule, photos are stored in DCIM folder. This is common storage on devices with memory card support. This folder also has photos from Camera, downloaded images, video, etc. For more detail see here.

5. Enable Deep Scan feature

Deep Scan feature is a thing thanks to which Recuva is able to find files which basic scan doesn’t see. Even though this method proves effective every other time, still you’ll notice the difference.

Enable Deep Scan in Recuva main menu: Options – Actions – Deep Scan.

How to enable 'Deep scan' option in Recuva app

6. Launch SD Card scan

  1. To begin press on Start.
  2. Wait for the scanner to finish checking selected folder on the memory card; it can take from several minutes to an hour.

Recuva - sd card scanning process

7. Sort photos, keep the ones you need

  1. Deleted photos found by Recuva are displayed as thumbnails. It’s really handy since you get the results straight away and know which ones you are going to save.
  2. If necessary, you can switch to Advanced mode and see more detail about selected files you’d like to get back.
  3. Recovery chances vary from case to case. Recuva uses colors to mark it:
    • red for minimal likelihood,
    • yellow for average,
    • green for maximum.
  4. In the Info all the information about a file can be checked: Filename, Path, Last modification time and more (also duplicated in columns); sometimes they come in handy. Preview shows the result as is: pictures damaged or not.

Recuva photo preview

Tip. If Recuva hadn’t managed to locate any files, add more formats in the settings of Recuva Wizard or via Advanced mode in the search bar. Try adding RAW, .CR2, .NEF or .ARW when scanning to retrieve photos.

8. Save selected photos to the disk

Select photos and press on Recover.

Saving photo from sd card to HDD

Ideally, restored data should not be saved to the disk it was deleted from (especially it’s true for files deleted from an HDD). In our case it doesn’t matter too much, just don’t save photos back to your SD card unless you want to significantly lessen chances for recovery.

P.s. What if Recuva fails to help to get deleted photos from memory card

Let’s suppose you followed the tutorial and set it up in Recuva Wizard correctly but you are not happy with the results. Then:

  1. Peep at this page on recovery: here we’ve collected materials concerning data recovery on mobile devices and personal computers.
  2. Try some other recovery soft, for example free options like PhotoRec and DiskDigger.
  3. Have a look at the answers from other users and our answers (see below).

FAQ

My phone Huawei y5 went glitchy, turned off itself, and nearly all my Camera photos disappeared. Scanning SD Card shows that there’s more free storage on it, which means that photos are lost. I wonder if they were removed permanently. It’s a pity, this memory card I’ve been using in my previous phone as well and never had any problems with it, and this thing happened on my new phone. Would be great if you could help me to recover deleted photos from sd card for free.

Answer. Unless you had deleted photos yourself, there must have been an error on your SD Card – usually it’s bad sectors. Windows will suggest formatting but better refuse. Try our tutorial on fixing errors on memory card. If it doesn’t help, in Recuva specify the folder where lost files were stored and try restoring them using method described in this guide.


I wanted to transfer photos from my photo camera to the computer. A window popped offering to format memory card, and I pressed on OK by accident, so my SD Card got wiped. How to retrieve deleted photos from memory card? There were many files that were not backed up on other media.

Answer. You had to scan your memory card for errors on your PC but you formatted it instead. Recuva may help in your case but only if you had done quick format and hadn’t had it overwritten. Read our compilation of questions and answers.


Problem: Galaxy s4 refuses recognizing photos on SD Card but apps installed on it are fine…

Every file shows some free space, as if the files were there, they all are dated by 1980 and won’t open in Android Gallery. On my laptop I can’t see them either. What can you suggest?

Answer. It could be corrupt exif data or memory card reading errors. Our suggestions:

  1. Make a backup copy of files on the computer or in Google Photos.
  2. Format your memory card in Full Format mode to repair reading errors. Use SDFormatter.

On HTC phone I was transferring photos from internal storage to SD Card but for some reason they all got deleted. I restored them using some utility but they are blurred now. How can it be fixed?

Answer. You must have restored thumbnails. Try scanning the folder on SD Card one more time but in Deep Scan mode.


I used USB cable to send files to SD Card in the same phone by copy and paste. But they never showed up and files disappeared from sd card.

Answer. We’d suggest using DiskDigger utility for Android in this case and for photo recovery from memory card. If it fails to help, here is our guide on how to retrieve deleted photos from phone internal storage – a lot needs to be taken into consideration.


[How to recover photos from sd card???]

I accidentally deleted photos from my mobile phone microsd card (Redmi Note 4). All my photos are saved in Google Photos. How can i get back into my Redmi Note 4?


[Memory card not recognized by device]

My SD card was in a camera, my friend took it and put it in her mobicell now my memory card keeps saying "this device dies not support this SD card." please help I don't wanna lose my photos because when I tap on the set it up button it says I must format the memory card


[sd card photo recovery]

photos are not showing in my phone which i have downloaded from twitter. i have not deleted any photos still my gionee phone is not showing any photos niether in gallery nor in downloaded folder


[I accidentally deleted photos from the archive]

Hey, my partner and I debated and transferred the pictures to the archive, and then I deleted them. Is there a way to return them to the archive?


[sd card from Huawei toJ3 then took out]

I downloaded all my pictures to my SD card on my Huawei bought a Samsung Galaxy J-3 and transferred everything into that can I now put the SD card back in my Huawei and transfer all my pictures back to it so I can put a empty SD card in my Samsung Galaxy and delete over half of my pictures in my gallery in the Samsung because they are the same photographs My Huawei is not hooked up to phone service but it's hooked up to my Wi-Fi and I can still use it so can I use it to store all the contents from my SD card


[Photo Recovery]

I had to do a factory reset and my phone. Turns out, not all my photos were on my memory card and I lost all my pics from the last two years. Will the Root system allow me to recover photos from sd card?


[Permanent deleted photos recovery]

I permanently deleted picture from my phone and now I unable to recover the photos from sd card. I am using samsung max. And through share it I receive some pictures around 798 but by mistake I deleted that photos. before deleting I lock them into safe gallery app. And i deleted that photos.by using this app I couldn't recover those pictures. those pictures are more valuable to me. pls help


[Deleted photos]

My no crop photos suddenly deleted on my sd card and I've tried using diskdigger to get them back but it came out as a low quality. Please help me get them back I would appreciate this alot and recommend this site.


[Pics cant be viewed]

Before formatting my phone, i removed the sd card and the sim card. I guessed i didnt unmount it properly. After that, most of my pics can be viewed. It said that the image is corrupted or damaged. Even my documents cant be viewed.


So i had a sd card it worked fine, i transfered a lot important fotos on it,but after a while my phone just did not turn on anymore. I tried turning it on but no use. And now how can i get my fotos back?


[Pro version not retrieving all deleted images]

I paid for the pro version but I have both versions on my phone.. My phone is not rooted, but previously when I've used the pro version it retrieved all the deleted images from the internal memory as I don't use an SD card, however now it's not retrieving the pictures Hopefully, you can help me to recover pictures from sd card and figure out what has happened.


[Pictures and videos out of date]

I copied my pictures to my SD card now all the dates have modified. How do I get the original dates? My sd card has original and modified pictures now because I was afraid I didn't get all my pictures it was saving my videos in a separate folder. So I ended up saving them and then my pics were separate from videos .a mess I know. I just want them back in order again with pictures and videos in dates so I can use slideshow when I put them on dvd

Didn’t manage to restore files? Send us a question

Describe your issue using our feedback form. Give us details on where the files were deleted from, when and how, and we will try to give you an answer. Besides, your question will clarify and make more complete questions by other users, which is of great help for us in making our recovery guides more helpful.

Ask the question