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How to Recover Your Deleted Photos

by Heidi Leder on August 25, 2010

camera delete buttonThese days, more and more memories are being captured with the convenience of a digital camera. While this makes taking and sharing photos and video simpler, it also makes it easier to accidentally delete those captured memories. Like my friend whose daughter accidentally deleted her photos of a Jonas Brothers concert, you can imagine the heart-stopping anxiety (and pressure) of thinking you’ve lost precious shots forever. . .

So what can you do? If you’ve read the tips on Prepping Your Computer for Disposal, then you know that just like with your computer’s hard drive, when you delete a file, it doesn’t instantly disappear forever. It actually remains stored in your camera’s memory card until it’s overwritten by another piece of data – in this case another picture or video file.

Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of losing that first-day-of-school photo, or those once-in-a-lifetime vacation shots, the first thing you should do is STOP using your camera. The lost pictures are often still there, and you could risk overwriting them by taking additional photos or video.

Depending on the sophistication of your camera, it may have the ability to recover deleted photos built-in. So check your camera’s manual first. If your camera does not offer this feature, then there are software solutions available for Windows PCs and Macs.

I found one good free program, Pandora Recovery, which runs on Windows PCs and recovers deleted files. But if your files are stored on a memory card that doesn’t work (it could be corrupted), or if you have a Mac, you’ll have to try a paid program. Keep in mind that while you can try many photo recovery programs for free to see if they’re capable of recovering your lost files, most require you to pay for the product in order to actually recover your photos.

Originally published September 15, 2009. and updated October 25, 2010 with new software information


Cameras and Photography, Accessories, Computers and Software, Software & Games, Photo / Video Editing, Computer Safety & Support, Tips & How-Tos

Our Picks

Pandora Recovery softwarePandora Recovery (free, Windows) This free program should work if you’ve just deleted your photos and videos.
Download Now

Art Plus Digital Photo Recovery SoftwareArt Plus Digital Photo Recovery ($24.95, Windows) In addition to deleted photos, this program recovers photos (no videos) from corrupted or reformatted memory.
Try/Buy Now

WinRecovery CardRescueWinRecovery CardRecovery ($39.95, Windows) / CardRescue ($39.95, Mac OS X) In addition to photos, these programs recover deleted movies or movies on corrupted or reformatted memory cards. Card Recovery helped my friend recover the photos of Kevin, Nick and Joe Jonas and set everything right in the world again for her daughter.
Try/Buy Now

Discussion loading


From Becky Patzer on September 02, 2009 :: 12:17 pm

Great information



From Michel on September 22, 2009 :: 6:41 am

Good overview!

I know software from another manufacturer (Ontrack):

...which can help you recover your lost files. It can even read data from formatted SD cards or HDDs, etc., so it’s quite powerful. It’s paid, too, though.. :(

I have used it in the past. Excellent, IMHO!

Just my $0.02:)



From Jim on August 25, 2010 :: 12:10 pm

I recovered my photos with WinRecovery.  It worked great.



From Shailendra Kumar Imsec on April 22, 2020 :: 4:40 am

Useful Information, But I had used Stellar Photo Recovery software for recovering my vacation photos from camera. It works fine for me!


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