Here’s a useful idea related to the memory card recovery tutorial we shared yesterday: if you’re ever confronted by someone who forces you to delete your photos (and our magical photographers’ rights gray card doesn’t work), go ahead and delete them! What most people don’t know is that deleted photos can easily be recovered afterward. Even photos on a memory card that’s formatted and completely wiped can usually be restored.
Last night my pastor emailed me telling me that he had accidentally deleted an entire folder of photographs off his Sony compact camera, and that Sony’s technical support informed him that it would cost $200-300 for them to recover the photos. After I got a hold of the memory card, I checked some of the recovery programs I’ve used in the past, but discovered that they now require paid licenses to actual do recovery (though analysis is free). I then stumbled across PhotoRec, a free and open source command-line application that’s bundled with TestDisk, something I’ve successfully used to regain access to inaccessible external hard drives.
In this post I’m going to show you how you can use PhotoRec to recover your photos if you’ve accidentally deleted them or formatted your memory card.
Do you know what to do if one of your prints gets damaged by water? If you living in a flood prone area (or are clumsy), it’d be good to know.
The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) has an informative technical bulletin titled “Salvaging Photographs”, that provides a rundown on the response you should take to water damage.
One of the interesting tips is to freeze your prints to prevent further damage:
Freezing to help retard further deterioration by water or mold may be necessary if the materials cannot be treated immediately. Storage at low temperatures buys time in which to safely plan and organize the many steps needed to dry the affected materials and to prepare a rehabilitation site.
Vacuum freeze-drying can help you recover the prints:
In this method, photographic materials—either wet or frozen—are placed in a vacuum chamber. As the vacuum is pulled, a low heat source is introduced and the photographs are carefully dried at temperatures below freezing.
Some additional tips from the document:
- Keep immersion time to an absolute minimum
- Treat least stable items (i.e. prints rather than negatives) first
- Keep identifying information near the prints
- Never let the prints dry in contact with any surface, since it may stick permanently
If there’s any chance you might have to deal with recovering wet prints, this PDF would be a good thing to bookmark, save, or print out.
Image credit: Flood series by cikaga jamie
A few times in the past I’ve had to recover data from memory cards. Once it was a friend who accidentally reformatted the card and deleted hundreds of photographs from a recent vacation. Another time I accidentally deleted precious images from the memory card before I had backed them up. What I’ve learned though, is that in most cases, you can easily recover the data you fear was lost, even if you do something drastic such as reformat your card.
When you “delete” a photo from your memory card, it simply goes to that section of storage and marks it as “available” to be used again. The data of the original image is still there on your memory card, though the camera will not display it as an image. Thus, the most important thing you need to remember to do if you accidentally delete data is to stop using the memory card. This is because the only way for the data to truly become unrecoverable is if you delete it, then overwrite it with new data (or even blank data). Thus, to ensure that you can recover your deleted photo, you need to be sure to stop using your card immediately to ensure that nothing is written to that storage location on the card.
To do the actual recovery, you could take the card to a photography place and have a professional recover the data for you, but I’ve always relied on free software that can do the same thing. Here are some popular and free programs to try:
Most of the good, safe, and free programs available for recovering photos are available only for Windows users. PhotoRescue is a popular program for Mac users, but costs $29.
Finally, the fact that data is so easily recoverable means that you need to be careful when selling things like computers and memory cards. Simply “deleting” data will not prevent what was on the card to fall into the wrong hands. If you’re selling a memory card that contained data you don’t want others to possibly recover, then be sure to overwrite the card completely, or look online for a program that helps you safely delete data.