Recover Picture Files On Your Digital Camera Card

When I draft an article here at What’s On My PC, I try to reflect on personal “real life” computer experiences to demonstrate what can happen and what you can do to make things right. In many instances, do not give up until you have explored the options. To give an example, I recently experienced an issue with file corruption that gave me that sick in the gut feeling where I started crying out for help!


I currently serve as the Multimedia Director at my Church, which entails graphic editing skills; operating the computer, projection system and sound system (which I am learning); and taking digital photographs of events (which my wife assists). Recently we were tasked with taking photos of a very important 30 year celebration event.

All went well until I transferred the (couple hundred) photos from the camera to the computer. When I transferred the photos, I totally removed them (using the Windows cut/copy operation) from the camera’s media card. Every picture file I removed and transferred appeared corrupted in my graphic viewer. I could pull the picture files up using my graphic viewer; however, the pictures were really messed up and scrambled; and totally unusable. That is when the “sick in the gut” feeling hit.

RecuvaAfter a few minutes of thinking I decided to try something by using the FREE file recovery program called Recuva. My only concern at this point was that file recovery software is touted for recovering files that have been “deleted” from a media source; not “cut” from a media source (as in my case).

The first step I performed was to remove the media card from the camera and placed it in my media card reader. I then started Recuva and used the built in wizard that walked me, step-by-step, through the recovery process.


During the process I opted to perform a “deep scan” of the media card (which was 1GB in size). Keep in mind, the deep scan option, is a much longer scanning process; especially if you are dealing with a very large drive (like the hard drive in your PC). Also, I should probably mention that you should always limit read/write activity to the media that you are working with to ensure better results.


I continued to follow the Recuva wizard… Recuva went to work in scanning the media card in an attempt to recover or detect any files. Now, keep in mind, I never “deleted” the pictures files from the media card; I “cut” them from the card and pasted into a folder on my PC.  Therefore, I was unsure if this would work or not.


Fingers Crossed!  Using the “deep scan” option in Recuva, I was able to recover several hundred picture files; including, what appeared to be the pictures that were taken at the Church event. The deep scan option is an option that is more time consuming; however, in my case I was desperate.


Let the party begin! I moved the recovered files to my PC and found that every single picture that we had taken was now intact with no signs of corruption. The only thing I could figure is that the file corruption I initially experienced, when I “cut” the pictures from the media card and “pasted” them into a folder, the corruption occurred as a result of the transfer process to the PC.

I have tested and tried numerous file recovery products and most are very good; however, the first option that came to mind, in my moment of desperation, was Recuva. I attribute that to the fact that Piriform, the makers of Recuva, CCleaner, Speccy and Defraggler, are commonly known for their great FREE products.


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7 thoughts on “Recover Picture Files On Your Digital Camera Card

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  1. “Sick in the gut feeling..”
    Been there. Done that. Have the t-shirt.. (a wedding, in my case.)

    What a well-written piece! (You can’t see me, Rick, but I’m giving you a standing “O”.) I will be referring my readers to this one, fersher!


  2. TechPaul,

    Talk about “sick in the gut feeling”… While writing this piece, experienced a brownout and my PC rebooted. Fortunately, I had saved it numerous times and did not lose too much…



  3. Rick,
    One of my earliest articles advised the investment in a “UPS” battery backup unit (That was a lesson I learned the hard way!) as mine was a power “spike” that caused hardware failure/machine rebuild. Those “low power” brownouts can be a real bear, especially if they don’t drop low enough, quickly enough, to trigger a timely UPS kick in

    Amazing how having a good backup (or two) handy gives one confidence! Top Tech Tip – backup, backup, backup! As you say, they help make thing “right again”.

    Again, this was – IMHO – a terrific article. I hope it gets lots of reads, and readers refer their friends and family.


  4. You are not alone Rick. I made my sojourn to Recuva about a year ago after accidentally deleting some key files. Excellent program and does the trick. Very easy program to use as well. So easy a caveman can do it!


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