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Date: December 14th, 2010
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Free and Easy Recovery - Recover your files from your USB Drive or Camera Memory Card

The Problem

I accidentally erased the pictures on my camera's card.  How do I get those files back?

Tags: recover, files, pictures, Free, Recovery, Camera, Memory Card, USB Drive, Pen Drive, Drive, Undelete

The Fix

Summary: There is a good chance that your pictures are still there an can be recovered.  There is a free program called PhotoRec that can recover, as the name implies, photos (as well as other files).  It is not very user friendly, however this tutorial will guide you through recovering your photos using plain language.

Step 1 - Getting and Running PhotoRec

Creating a Folder

PhotoRec Folder

Download This File

PhotoRec comes packaged with a program called TestDisk.  Go to: And click on the "Windows" link (Image 1) and save the file.

Once the file is downloaded, double click on it to open it.  A window will open with a folder it in called "testdisk-6.11.3" or something similar.  Drag and drop that folder to your Desktop. Now open the folder you just put on the Destkop, then double click on the "win" folder.  Now you should see the PhotoRec_win program.  (Image 2)

Next you need to create a folder to recover the files into, right click, select "New" then click "Folder".  Now you can type in a name for your folder, I called mine "recovered."  (Image 3)  Remember the name you called your folder, you will need it in a later step.

MAKE SURE your pen drive or memory card is plugged in then double click on the PhotoRec_win program.  A DOS - like window should appear.

Step 2 - Selecting your Memory Card

(Image 2)

(Image 1)

When you start PhotoRec, it will first ask you which drive you would like to recover files from.  The list of drives will include Hard Drives, CD-Roms, External Hard Drives, Pen Drives, basically any storage device that is connected to your computer. (Image 1)

Most likely your drive will be labeled as a "Flash Drive", as was mine in the image.  If you are having trouble finding your drive, check the sizes of the drives listed and compare it to what is written on your pen drive or memory card.  For example, I know my pen drive is a 4 gigabyte drive - PhotoRec labeled it as being "3990 MiB."  4000 megabytes is a gigabyte, so I know which is my pen drive.  It will most likely be one of the smallest drives listed. PhotoRec will now ask you for information about your hard drive: "Please select the partition table type" (Image 2) Select "[Intel] Intel/PC partition" and hit enter.

Step 3 - Providing Information About your Hard Drive

Image 2

Image 1

Next it will ask which Partion you would like PhotoRec to scan. (Image 1) If you are not sure simply select "No Partition" and hit enter. By doing this PhotoRec will scan your entire memory card.

Now PhotoRec will ask you what kind of file system was on your memory card. Select "[Other]" and hit enter. (Image 2)

Step 4 - Deciding Where to Search

Image 1

PhotoRec will now ask you whether you would like to search just the free space on your hard drive or the whole hard drive. Select "[Free]". (Image 1)

Step 5 - Telling PhotoRec where to Save your Files

Image 2

Image 1

Now you need to tell PhotoRec where you would like it to save the files that you recover.  Scroll down, using the arrow keys, until you find the folder that you created in step 1.  I called my "recovered".  (Image 1)  When you find the folder you created, hit enter.

PhotoRec will then show you the contents of the folder you created (it should be empty)  (Image 2)  Now you can hit the "y" key to confirm the location for saving the recovered files.

Step 6 - Recovering your Files

Image 2

Image 1

As soon as you hit "y" PhotoRec should have started recovering your files! (Image 1) This will take a few minutes, depending on the size of your memory card.

When it is done recovering your pictures it will "Recovery Completed" in the middle of the screen and "Quit" at the bottom of the screen.  (Image 2)  At this point you can click the "X" in the top right of the window to close it.

Step 7 - Accessing your files

To find your files all you need to do is go to the "testdisk-6.11.3" folder on your Desktop, double click on the "win" folder then double click the folder you created in step 1.  Inside this folder you should see some folders called recup_dir.1, recup_dir.2, recup_dir.3 etc.

Inside these folders you should see files with names like f142864688.jpg and f151466048.jpg. Those are you recovered files. Their names are not the same and they will be spread out inside the various "recup" folders. The naming information was lost and PhotoRec was not able to recover it. This will require some sorting and renaming, but at least you have your pictures back!

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General Comments

2011-08-12 12:44:31syszone comments:
i would suggest that you add the logfile functionality in the script of ddrescue, i have been running this for days and my computer somehow rebooted by its own if you would have mentioned the log file i would not have to redo it all again... any way thank you for your instructions here...