Memory Card mixture
Credit: John Morris,


Imagine the following: You are on vacation with your sister and her two baby daughters.  Being the stellar photographer that you are, you bring your fancy digital camera to capture all of the excitement. 400 photos and only 3 days into your trip, with your memory card already almost full, you decide to download your photos all onto your computer only to realize that you have accidentally deleted all of your photos by removing the card from your camera while it was still saving a photo.  This happened to me recently and I freaked out.  I had lost hundreds of priceless photos, never to see them again.  But this is when I learned about memory card recovery software that can rescue your deleted media files from any sort of portable memory device, from SD cards, to compact flash cards, to USB drives.

What is memory card recovery software?

There are several pieces of software out there that make it possible for you to retrieve deleted files from your memory card, including Card Recovery Pro and Card Rescue.  While both of these will work for standard photo and video formats, such as JPEG and MTS, they both include additional support for other file types, which may help in choosing one over the other (see Tech Specs below).

How does memory card recovery software work?

Any time you delete files from a memory card or format your card, these files do not actually go away.  The computer or other device simply removes all of the information from your memory card that it uses to find the files.  This data can also get mixed up if you improperly remove your card from your device, as happened to me.  This information keeps track of where the files are stored on your card and makes sure that they will not get overwritten by other files.  However if it accidentally gets removed or corrupted, then even though your computer doesn’t know how to find the files and may overwrite them with new files, the files still exist until they are actually overwritten by other files. 

This is where memory card recovery software comes in.  What memory card recovery software does is go into the card and gather all of the information stored there, even that which the computer would normally ignore, such as that which is not directly linked to.  Therefore it can find hidden files and effectively help you to recover the files that you have lost.

Does it really work?

Yes! If, however you are still unsure, you can download a trial version of one of either Card Recovery Pro or Card Rescue and run scan your card to see if the files are found before actually purchasing anything.

Specific Steps

  1. This step is of critical importance.  DO NOT continue to save new files the memory card after you have accidentally deleted your files.  If you do, while you may still be able to recover some of your files, there is a good chance that some or all of them will get overwritten by the new files and you will lose them forever.
  2. Download, and install either Card Recovery Pro (Windows) or Card Rescue (Windows, Mac) from the links below. 
  3. Hook up your memory card or USB drive to your computer and run a scan using your software of choice. 
  4. If the your files are found, register your software and recover your files!

Tech Specs

Here I have included what I believe to be the most relevant specifications (operating system and supported file types) but many additional specs are available by clicking on the links.

It is also important to note that both of these support additional file types to those mentioned so I would recommend running the trial version of either one or both even if you don’t see your desired file type specifically mentioned.


Card Recovery Pro

  • Operating system: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows 20000
  • Supported file types:
    • Pictures: PNG, TIFF, INDD, JP2, PSD, PSP, MOS, PCT
    • Video: DV, M4V, 3G2, M4B, MTS, DIVX, MKV, MOI, OGM, VOB, 3G2, ASX
    • Audio: M4P, RPS, AIFF, MIDI, M4A, AU, OGG, WMA, RM, RA
    • And more


Card Rescue

  • Operating system: Mac OS X 10.5 – 10.8, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
  • Supported file types:
    • Pictures:  JPG, PNG, CR2, MRW, SRF, BMP, NEF, ORF, DCR, PEF, TIF, X3F, RAF, CRW, RAW
    • Video:  AVI, MP4, MPG, ASF, MOV, MTS
    • Audio:  WAV
    • Other: ZIP, RAR


Thank you for bearing with me and I sincerely hope that you find this information helpful.