How to Recover SD Card Data

By Gwen Wark

Accidents happen, and deleting the contents of an SD memory card is a relatively simple mistake to make. However, in many cases it is not an irreversible one. Many devices do not clear the card when erasing data, so it is possible to recover lost items with care.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer

Step 1

Do not use the card for any other purpose before attempting to recover data. Further use of the card will destroy any remaining files the card contains and will render the data unrecoverable. Immediately write-protect the card according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 2

Download card recovery software. There are a multitude of utilities available for this (see Resources). Some are free; others cost money. Try a free program or see if a free trial is available. These utilities make it possible to see the files that have not yet been overwritten on your SD card.

Step 3

Insert the card into your card reader or device, and run the card recovery software. The software will scan your device for the files and alert you to any complete, recoverable files available. Recover the images according to the program instructions. Some programs charge a fee per file to be recovered.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are a multitude of free file recovery utilities available, and you may need to try more than one before you find a successful fit.If file recovery software does not work, a specialized data recovery company may still be able to retrieve your files.
  • Do not use the card for any other purpose if you have accidentally deleted files, as the device will record the new files over the old ones.