This post was originally published on January 2, 2008, but is still useful and relevant today:
We had a little get-together on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the coming of 2008. Naturally, we wanted to take some pictures, so we brought out the new Canon Powershot SD850 IS we got for Christmas and snapped a few shots on the 35MB SD card that came with it. We got some great pictures while the 35 MB lasted.
Last night I plugged the camera into the computer to marvel at our exceptional photography… and all the pictures were gone! Erased from the camera somehow!
Luckily, I am a computer nerd.
Before I start babbling about the technical details, let me first explain a few things.
Both your computer and your camera store documents and pictures the same way. Deleting a file on your computer is just like tossing it in the wastebasket. Then when you empty your computer’s Recycle Bin, that’s just like taking out the trash and setting it on the curb for the garbage truck to pick it up. Erasing the pictures from your camera is just like throwing the pictures in the trash and then immediately putting it out on the curb for pickup (because your camera doesn’t have a Recycle Bin). So, when you erase your camera accidentally, you still have a chance to recover the pictures if you act fast – before the garbage truck hauls it away. You’d have to run outside and dig through your trash. Now, on to the technical babbling.
I did a quick Google search online and found some “Shareware” SD card recovery programs available for download. I tried the first one I saw, CardRecovery. I plugged in the camera, loaded up CardRecovery… and found out that it couldn’t find the attached camera because the camera doesn’t load on the computer as a new drive letter. Hmm…
Then an idea came. What if I plugged the SD card into another device that would load as a new drive letter? I have another camera, my Canon Digital Rebel XT. Nope, that won’t work because it uses a CF card instead of an SD card. What else is there? Thank God (or whatever you might believe in) that Garmin decided to add the useless feature of viewing pictures on your GPS device. I plugged in the SD card and connected the GPS to my computer, and it loaded as a new drive letter.
Then I loaded up CardRecovery. Awesome. It dug through the trash and found the pictures. I clicked the “Recover” button… and a pop-up dialog box informed me that I need to send them some cash before they hand over the pictures. I guess “Shareware” is akin to blackmail.
I uninstalled CardRecovery.
That’s when I went to SourceForge and found a free open source SD card program. CardTest detected all the pictures and downloaded them from the card. It took about half an hour for CardTest to rescue those 12 pictures, and 3 of them were already damaged, but it’s better than losing them all outright.
Phew! The new year might turn out alright after all.
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