Ask David: Can I Retrieve Deleted Photos From My Memory Card? :: Digital Photo Secrets

Ask David: Can I Retrieve Deleted Photos From My Memory Card?

by David Peterson 25 comments

This week’s Ask David question comes from one somewhat panicked Bekka Jacobs. After having accidentally deleted a few photos from her memory card, she wants to know if there is a way to get them back. It’s a problem that’s pretty common to all of us. No matter how hard we try to avoid deleting the good ones, we inevitably press the delete button one too many times.

Well there’s no need to worry about it. You can recover almost any photo you’ve deleted, provided you follow a few simple procedures and use the right software. Even though you can no longer access your photos from your camera, they’re still there. The delete function doesn’t get rid of them. It just allows your camera to write new pictures over them.

So if you haven’t taken any new pictures yet, you should be okay. Immediately remove the card from your camera or computer and set it aside for now. It’s time to download some recovery software.

Which recovery software works best?

It doesn’t really matter. They all do the same thing. PC users are pretty happy with ArtPlus, and Mac users have taken a liking to Stellar Phoenix. Both software packages are allow you to take a test drive before you buy them. They’ll allow you to recover files for free, but they’ll put a watermark on the images until you get the paid version. There is no free lunch here. Sorry guys.

I tried out a bunch of different photo recovery packages, and none of the supposedly “free” ones are actually free. They’re all software demos that sell the paid version. If you’re trying to recover your photos for free, don’t expect to find much. You’re bound to get stuck in a quagmire of Google searches that will leave your eyes bloodshot and your brain very tired (speaking from personal experience here). I’m not saying there isn’t some free software somewhere, but the paid software is at the top of the search results across the board.

Most of these packages are reasonably priced. At $20-$25, you aren’t chopping off an arm. And if your lost image was a keeper, it’s more than worth it. Having said that, if you could just take the same picture over again, do that instead. It’ll save you some cash.

Best of luck!

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  1. Suzi Owen says:

    Now I see this article, day late and memory card shot over. I didn't think there was a way to salvage the card! First time mistake, heartbreaking and last time to make that mistake. A lesson well learned.

  2. Michela Butler says:

    Hi, I took one photo before I realised everything else had been deleted. Will that still prevent me from being able to retrieve all of my accidentally deleted ones?

    • David Peterson says:

      No. You might lose one or two photos. However, the more photos you take, the less and less a chance you'll be able to recover anything.

      Good luck!


  3. Sonal says:

    Clicked photos using selfie stick on moto g2..But the photos clicked are not there in the memory card..can I retrieve these photos and how can I retrieve it back??

  4. cati says:

    I actually want to know the dates of the photos deleted and shot by camera can it be done?please mention

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi Cati,

      If you are able to retrieve the photos back, you'll be able to see the dates they were shot (by looking at the date on the file). However, if you can't undelete the photos, you won't be able to get the date back either.

      I hope that helps.


  5. Aeneas Williams says:

    I found one of the promising software for making photo recovery from memory card which is Remo Recover.. This software really seems to be promising..

  6. kim says:

    Dear David

    Following on from this, I deleted several photos by accident, some very special, but did not realise so carried on taking photos on the card. I have tried recovery and the files say they are unrecoverable -
    -SCF5829.jpg 5.143kb unrecoverable. This file is overwritten with DSCF6852.jpg.
    Is there anyway at all that I could get the unrecoverable jpg photo back, your expert advice would be great appreciated. Thanks

    • David Peterson says:

      Hi Kim,

      No, it's not recoverable. Your camera re-uses the space on the memory card and it has overwritten the space that was used for image 5829 with image 6852. There is no way to get it back.



  7. David Peterson says:


    Unless you have used the memory card since, it will be possible to restore most of your images.

    I recommend first trying some of the software I mention in this post.

    If that doesn't work, there are data recovery companies who can help you, but they will charge multple hundreds of dollars. Google for 'data recovery' and your city.


  8. Debbie says:

    While going to view my files of my memory card, I accidentally clicked Import files by mistake. Immediately, without thinking, I took out my memory card from my tower. I reinserted it and went to view my files and they were all gone. All but 23 from over 1000 pictures/videos. I was planning on viewing, copying to files and burning them onto a disc. Could you contact me if there is any way in retrieving all my pictures and videos? I did take the card to a well know photo shop and they couldn't do it.

  9. jackhood says:


    Accidentally deleted important photos form memory card, don't panic. I strongly recommended an advance professional or cost-effective program, you can use Kernel for Digital Media Recovery Tool. This software effectively restore all deleted photos. That tool also supports all digital devices such as Pen Drives, Flash Cards, Thumb Drives, Memory Sticks, Micro Drive, MMC Cards, XD Cards.

  10. David Peterson says:


    Yes you can. Just use the same techniques I mention in the article.


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