Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Recovering Deleted Photos from Memory Cards

I neglected to mention in my previous post that I had a crisis when I returned home from my trip to the Arizona Renaissance Festival and tried to use Picasa (Google’s photo management software) to upload my photos. Picasa was supposed to copy the photos from my memory card, paste them into a folder on my computer, and then delete the photos from my memory card. Instead, it copied and pasted nothing, then deleted my photos anyway! Let me tell you, when I realized my photos were gone there were a few tears and a lot of yelling (aimed at my poor husband, who had the bad luck to be calling me at the time). I’m not sure whether I should place the blame on Picasa or my memory card, which every once in a while has given me a read error (but nothing that couldn’t be solved by taking the card out and putting it back in again). Regardless of who’s to blame, I know that from now on I’m not going to let Picasa automatically delete my stuff anymore!
To attempt to fix this, I first tried to get ahold of my computer-genius brother (doesn’t everyone have one?). But due to some St. Patrick’s Day partying he was not available so I resorted to Google. It took me a while to sort through all the recovery programs out there and I found that most of them weren’t free or looked untrustworthy. Finally I ran across an article in the New York Times that recommended a free downloadable program called PC Inspector Smart Recovery. It’s just for recovery from memory cards though the company, Convar, also offers other file recovery programs. I was a little worried about some of the poor English in the instructions (the company is based in Germany) but I tried it out anyway and it was able to recover all but one of my 40 photos!
I was so pleased that I then went on to see what pictures I could recover from the memory cards belonging to my husband’s camera. We lost all our photos from our Galveston, Texas honeymoon in a laptop crash over a year ago and I was hoping that some of them might still remain on the memory cards. I got lucky and did find a couple, though they were mostly blurry fish from Moody Gardens and moon rocks from NASA - unfortunately not the ones I really wanted. But they’re better than nothing!
The one key thing to keep in mind if you accidentally delete photos from a memory card is to not save any new photos on that card until you have done your recovery. With most memory cards the data from the photos is still there after you delete them. It’s only permanently gone when new data is written over the old data. So if we had tried this recovery soon after we lost our honeymoon photos we probably would’ve found more, but instead we waited until we had taken lots of new photos which overwrote the old ones. :( Oh well, I’m working on recovering the data from the crashed laptop’s hard drive so maybe I’ll get my pictures back that way!

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