Aargh! I've lost my digital photos!

April 11, 2011 Off By Chris Hinton

I had an awesome weekend – Saturday was spent at a friend’s wedding which, because of unseasonably warm weather, ended up being held outdoors in beautiful surroundings. Then Sunday afternoon involved a trip to Knockhill Racing Circuit to watch a few hours of live motorsport.
There was only one downside… halfway through my time at Knockhill I realised loads of photos were missing from my camera’s memory card… all the photos from the previous day, and many of the photos from the racing. Aargh! Now, I know I should have downloaded the wedding photos straight away, but I would be willing to bet there’s more than just me who sometimes forgets to do so for a few days. There were some cracking pictures of my children on there; my boy wearing a little kilt and my daughter wearing a beautiful dress. I was very, very unhappy.
If this happens to you, the first thing I would advise is don’t panic! Don’t get twitchy and format your card to see if it’ll sort it. Instead, take the card out out of your camera and switch to another. So, I guess the second thing I would say to you is carry a spare memory card. When you get home, you can work on recovering the lost files, which you can’t do if you formatted the card and overwrote them with new images.
OK, so I got home at the end of the day and put my memory card into my computer. Sure enough, it had become corrupted and, instead of seeing a list of image files, I saw a list of files with nonsensical names. They weren’t recognised as images at all. However, I downloaded a piece of software called CardRecovery, which scans through storage devices and detects lost image files. The download is free, so you can see whether it will work on your memory card, but to actually save the images requires an upgrade to the full version, costing £32.

Isn’t that a bit steep?

Perhaps, but I gladly paid it to recover the photos of the wedding. Photos are precious, a concept that has perhaps been cheapened a little by digital photography, but when you realise you have lost some of those precious images it’s worth a bit of expense to get them back.
So the upshot of this story is that I managed to get back all those lost images. I think the problem was caused by switching the camera off immediately after deleting a photo… effectively cutting the power during a write operation. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry, but I have to say I’m well impressed with CardRecovery as a solution.
Have you lost photos due to a corrupt memory card, or perhaps by accidentally deleting them? Did you manage to get them back again? If so, how did you do it? Share your thoughts in the comments.