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How to Recover Photos from SD Card without Formatting?

Position: How Tos - Data Recovery - How to Recover Photos from SD Card without Formatting?

Summary
This article talks about how to recover photos and videos from SD card without formatting and provides solutions to fix corrupted and damaged SD cards. One of the worst things can happen to your SD card is that it gets corrupted or damaged, for you are going to risk losing all files, such as photos, videos, music, etc. Fortunately, you can avoid the panic by following guides in this page: recover lost photos and other files from SD card easily and get corrupted device repaired without formatting.
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Scenarios that need to recover photos and videos from SD card

"I'm trying to recover photos (JPEG files) and videos (MOV files) from an SD card. I just returned home from a trip. It was a borrowed SD that I have since had to return, so I needed to move all files from the SD to my laptop. However, the SD card somehow couldn't be opened and asked me to format it. It seemed that I had no choice but to format it, and I clicked the format button. I got another error message saying the SD card is 'Write-protected', even though there is not a write-protection switch. How can I recover photos and videos from SD card without formatting? And How can I get it repaired?"

"The 64GB SD card asks me to format when I try to open it on my PC, and the exact message is 'The disk is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?' The SD card was used on camera to take photos for a birthday part. I've already tried putting the SD card on another digital camera of same model and brand, but it did not accept it either. I also used a different card reader to connect a different computer and got same result. It is likely the SD card is corrupted for no reason. Do you know any similar situation? Please help me!"

Here are two examples of SD card photo loss issues and there are many other users asking on tech forums and communities on how to recover photos, videos, music and other data from an SD card without formatting it. If this is your situation, you have to be able to recover lost SD card data as well as get it repaired without data loss. Before discussing further details of solutions, let's have a quick look at what makes you need to format the SD card issue.

  • The SD card is taken out of digital camera or other devices without turning off the devices, or you switch off the device during processing files on the SD card. Then you will stand a chance to get a corrupted SD card.
  • You remove the SD card from computer before system finishes reading or writing it, for example, you don't click the "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media" option. Similarly, a sudden shutdown of computer while using the SD card may also leads to the corruption.
  • The battery of the device that uses the SD card died while writing files, for example, your camera or smartphone's battery runs out when you are taking photos or videos.
  • An SD card may become unformatted due to bad sectors, virus attack, physical damage, poor quality, and so on.

After identifying what's going wrong, you will be able to avoid such issues the next time around. In most situations, the unformatted SD card is logically damaged due to file system corruption. Although formatting can help you get rid of the problem, it wipes all content off the SD card and increases the difficulty of SD card photo recovery. So how can you get back photos from SD card without formatting?


How to recover photos from corrupted SD card without formatting?

How to recover photos from a corrupted SD card without formatting? When your SD card becomes not formatted, photos and other files are still on it. An effective recovery program can help you retrieve photos from SD card with FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, EXT4, EXT3 and EXT2 file system, and the recovery process does not need to format it in advance. DiskGenius is an excellent option, for it is designed with an efficient file searching engine to restore files from corrupted, inaccessible, unformatted or formatted storage media. With this tool, you can restore photos and other files from various memory cards such as SD card, microSD card, SDHC card, CF card, SDHX card, miniSD card, XD card, etc. Plus, this software supports to retrieve all types of image formats, including JPEG, TIF, PNG, DNG, HEIF, RAW, ARW, CR2, NEF, ORF, REF, X3F, etc. Apart from recovering photos, DiskGenius also supports to recover music, videos, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, Text, archives, etc.

Tip: Before purchasing the software, you can first download the trial version and scan your SD card to check if this software is able to find out what you want. If you are not satisfied with the scanning result, then you do not need to buy the full version. In that case, it is recommended to contact DiskGenius support team who will help you analyze if the recovery result can be improved. So, free download DiskGenius Free edition and start recovering photos without hesitation.

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Step 1   Connect the corrupted SD card to computer and launch DiskGenius. Then right-click on the card and choose Recover Lost Files.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 2   You can see recovery options on the pop-up windows. Choose Complete Recovery and Search For Known File Types, and click Start button to scan the SD card.

The option "Search For Known Types" performs a deep scanning and recovers files by file types. The reason why it should be selected here is that there is possibility that file system of the SD card might have been badly damaged, which means lost data cannot be recovered with original names.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Click Select File Types button and you can choose file types you want to recover. To recover lost photos, you can choose all options listed under Photo Files and Graphic Files.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 3   Wait for the scanning process to finish.

There are two buttons on the scanning window, and you can click either once all wanted files have been listed in scanning result.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 4   Preview files and check recovery quality.

You can preview all files found by the software to check if wanted files are corrupted. Double-click a file and you can open a preview window as below. Photos, videos, audios, documents and text files can be previewed in this way. If file content shows correctly, that means the file is not damaged.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 5   Recover photos from SD card.

In the end, you need to select photos you want to restore, right-click on selected files and choose Copy To, so that you can set a location to get them recovered.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Bonus tip: How to recover deleted photos from SD card free of charge?

Is it possible to recover deleted photos from SD card free of charge? When you delete photos from an SD card, you do not wipe them permanently. Although you free up the space, deleted photos are still recoverable before they get overwritten. Currently, there are quit a few recovery tools available for SD card photo recovery, and yet most of them are not free of charge. If you have no budget on recovery software, you can give a shot at freeware such as Eassos Recovery Free. Here is the guide on how to recover deleted photos from SD card with free recovery software.

Step 1   Free download, install and launch Eassos Recovery Free on your PC and choose Recover Deleted Files from the home interface.

Before launching the software, you need to connect the SD card to computer so as to it can be recognized by the software.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 2   Select the SD card and click Next button.

There is a list of drives here, including internal and external disks, but you can easily recognize which is the SD card. Highlight it and click Next button and let the software scan it.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 3   Preview lost photos after scanning finishes.

When scanning is done, you can view files listed under Directory and File types tabs. To open preview window as below, you just need to simply double-click a file on the right pane.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 4   Finally, select photos and other files you want to recover and click Recover button.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

How to fix corrupted and damaged SD card without formatting?

This part includes several solutions that you can use to fix a corrupted or inaccessible SD card without formatting it, and yet some will remove all files off the SD card. Thus, you should backup important files in advance and follow steps carefully.

Fix 1: Change a drive letter

If you cannot see the drive letter of the corrupted SD card in Windows File Explorer, you can try assigning one in Disk Management.

Step 1   Right-click Start menu and choose Disk Management option.

Step 2   Right-click the drive that represents your SD card and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths. Then click Change button on the pop-up window.

Step 3   Select Assign follow drive letter and choose one letter from the drop box. Then click OK button.

Fix 2: Reinstall SD card drivers

This solution works if the inaccessible SD card is caused by corrupted or outdated drivers.

Step 1   Right-click the Start button and choose Device Manager.

Step 2   In right pane of Device Manager, expand the Disk drives part and find the name of the corrupted SD card. Right-click on it and choose Uninstall.

Step 3   Remove the SD card from computer and restart computer.

Step 4   Connect the SD card to your PC again and system will automatically install the latest driver for it.

Fix 3: Run CHKDSK command

CHKDSK is one of the Windows built-in commands and it is able to check and repair errors in hard disks and removable disks.

Step 1   Type cmd in searching box and you can find Command Prompt in the searching result. Right-click on it and choose Run as administrator.

Step 2   In Command Prompt, type chkdsk G: /f and press Enter key. Replace G with the drive letter of your SD card.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 3   Check if your SD card can be accessed as before after the process completes.

Fix 4: Check and repair bad sectors

DiskGenius Free edition provides the function of checking and repairing bad sectors, and you can follow these steps to check if your SD card has bad sectors.

Step 1   Launch DiskGenius Free edition, select the SD card you want to repair and choose Disk > Verify Or Repair Bad Sectors.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Step 2   Click Stat Verify button, and DiskGenius starts to scan the SD card and check if there are bad sectors.

How to Recover Photos from SD Card Without Formatting

Conclusion

So much about how to recover photos from SD card without formatting. After reading this article, you are aware of that recovering photos from SD card without formatting is often possible, and corrupted SD card can also be repaired by proper methods. Even so, it is still recommended you should attach importance to data backup. If you have any doubts or suggestions, feel free to let us know please.


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DiskGenius - A free program to repair corrupted SD card, backup files, manage partitions, fix disk errors, etc.

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