How can I recover files lost from a memory card?
Available in a diversity of types, with a wide variety of capacities and speed ratings, memory cards are used these days as de facto storage standard in numerous devices, from digital cameras and video recorders to smartphones, tablets and MP3 players. In addition, the increasing popularity of gaming consoles, car navigation systems, drones and IoT modules is driving even more demand for this type of removable storage, which makes it possible to expand the local one as easy as inserting a card into the spare slot. As memory cards have no moving parts, they are quite immune to being damaged or scratched, thus, many people rely on them to store valuable digital photos and videos, music and movie libraries while being able to export them to the PC whenever needed. However, once in a while, it comes to that a memory card is no longer recognized by the computer or certain files on it get lost due to system crashes or user mistakes. Fortunately, if the medium itself is physically intact and all operations with it get stopped within the shortest time, you can easily find and recover the missing files.
Note: In case of physical damage, data recovery is possible only by a skilled and properly equipped service provider. Making DIY-repair attempts you are risking to destroy the storage.
Restore data from a memory card (microSD, SD, SDHC, SDXC, CF, MS, XQD, etc.) formatted in FAT (exFAT) or any other file system of Windows, macOS, Linux, Unix, BSD
Whether the files were accidentally deleted, the storage was formatted or got corrupted, the problem can be smoothly tackled with the help of data recovery software. The FAT (exFAT) file system commonly applied on memory cards owing to its cross-platform compatibility suggests sufficient chances for success, yet, to let the program work with the real file system instead of its virtual representation, the card should be taken out of the mobile device it is employed by and put into the built-in slot of a PC/laptop or a USB card reader.
Warning: Having connected your memory card to the computer, don’t try to fix it using Chkdsk or similar utilities. This may lead to serious difficulties during data recovery or even permanent data loss.
There are still several situations when it is not even worth a try to get files off your memory card:
- the data was destroyed by low-level (full) formatting – this procedure completely erases the content of a storage;
- after being affected by data loss the memory card has been actively written to;
- the files were zeroed out or overwritten by special shredding software.
In other scenarios, SysDev Laboratories recommends UFS Explorer and Recovery Explorer as efficient software solutions addressing a broad range of data loss problems, including data recovery from memory cards formatted with any file system of Windows, macOS, Linux or Unix/BSD. The applications carefully analyze the storage and enable the user to copy the recovered files without making any modifications to the data source.
In order to extract lost or deleted files from a memory card with the help of UFS Explorer Standard Recovery, take the following steps:
Download and install the software onto your computer. Ensure that the version of the program matches the operating system platform it is running.
Open the application and, if needed, change its parameters in the settings tab.
Place your memory card into the computer’s card reader or an external USB adapter. Make sure that the interface of the slot corresponds to the form factor of your memory card (SD, microSD, etc.).
Warning: If a memory card error is encountered and the OS suggests formatting this device, don’t perform the procedure until data recovery is completed.
Find this drive in the list of attached storages in the left pane and scan it for lost data with the corresponding button or the storage context menu option.
Define the preferable scan parameters. If you are sure about the file system type, deselect the rest of file systems. After that, click "Start scan" and wait for the process to finish up.
Navigate through the files and folders recovered by the software: you may sort them by name, date, type, employ quick or advanced search and preview the files in the embedded viewer to find the needed ones. Press "Define selection" and mark off the ones you want to rescue.
Choose a destination folder for the restored files. Make sure you are not going to copy the files back to the problem memory card.
Last update: June 20, 2019