How can I recover files lost from a memory card?

data recovery from memory card with ufs explorer

Memory cards are available in a diversity of types, with a wide variety of capacities and speed ratings. They 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. The local storage of most gadgets can also be expanded 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. 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, you can easily find and recover the missing files. However, all operations with it must be stopped within the shortest time.

Note: In case of physical damage, data recovery is possible only by a skilled and properly equipped service provider. By self-made SD card recovery or 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.

Hint: To learn more about file systems and their types, please, refer to the basics of file systems.

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 memory 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 sd card 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:

  1. Download and install the software onto your computer. Ensure that the version of the program matches the operating system platform it is running.

    Hint: If you have any difficulties with the installation of the utility, please refer to the installation manual for UFS Explorer Standard Recovery.

  2. Open the application and, if needed, change its parameters in the settings tab.

  3. Place your memory card into the computer’s memory 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 sd card recovery is completed.

  4. 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.

    three ways to start memory card scanning in ufs explorer

  5. 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.

    Hint: More information about configuring the scan can be found in the instruction on scanning a drive with UFS Explorer.

    set memory card scanning parameters in ufs explorer

  6. Navigate through the files and folders recovered by the software. If the "Set up displaying of file status" tool is enabled, all files will be displayed with circular icons that correspond to their state: the green color denotes that a file is "good" and has a valid header; the red color indicates a "bad" (zeroed) file; the gray color may suggest that a file has been partially damaged, or its integrity cannot be tested owing to the format’s specifics. The restored deleted folders and files can be distinguished from the rest of the data by the red color of their names. You may also sort the elements by name, date, size, 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.

    using ufs explorer define selection tool to save several files recovered from memory card

    Hint: The information provided in Evaluation and saving the results of data recovery may facilitate your work with the obtained folders and files.

  7. Choose a destination folder for the restored files. Make sure you are not going to copy the files back to the problem memory card.

    saving group of files recovered from memory card with ufs explorer save selection tool

Hint: If you are going to save the recovered data to a network storage, please check the provided guide.

Last update: August 09, 2022

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