Why are my recovered images only 160x120 pixels?

  • I am trying to recover some lost images, and with all the programs I've tried, some of the photos resulted to be in a 160x120 pixel resolution. What does this mean, and is there any possibility to recover photos in original dimensions?

    Any help is appreciated.

    What tool did you use? What was the picture resolution, format and etc? Please provide all possible details for any useful answer!

    Zero Assumption Recovery, Recuva, iCare Data Recovery. the images might have been around 600x400, format is JPEG. taken with dsc-w310

    See my answer – I think you're probably out of luck. But you might try photorec, which is excellent and free, on the grounds that it can't hurt to try one more thing.

    After reading @mattdm answer, try to defragment your harddisk then rerun the recovery tool. Your images may be so large that they don't fit on the same block or even cluster, and maybe the recovery tool missed them

    Defragmenting at _this_ point is likely to scramble things up even more and make things worse — only whole, undeleted files will get defragmented, and the "lost" bits will get overwritten. If you can defragment _before_ you have data loss, that's ideal. (But if you have a time machine, might as well just make a backup instead.)

  • mattdm

    mattdm Correct answer

    9 years ago

    What you have there is the thumbnail stored inside a normal EXIF JPEG file.

    The size 160×120 is a significant clue that this is where these thumbnails come in, because although I don't think the standard mandates a particular size, 160×120 is incredibly common. (My DSLR saves thumbnails that size, and in fact "letterboxes" the 3:2 images with black bars to fit the aspect ratio.) It must have seemed like a good idea at the time the EXIF standard was written, but these tiny thumbnails are so low quality and so small that they are rarely actually used for anything — yet most JPEG files still contain them.

    Recovery software works by scanning your data disk block by disk block (or even byte by byte) regardless of any filesystem structure, looking for blocks of data which appear JPEG-like. The thumbnails are perfectly normal JPEG files themselves, so recovery software will pick them up.

    If that's all you're getting, it's likely that the filesystem you're trying to recover from is so messed up that the big files can't be reconstructed, but the tiny internal thumbnails will sometimes fit in a single disk block (or maybe two together), so they're more likely to be intact. Logically, this symptom is more common when trying to recover from a highly-fragmented drive.

    I think you are right. And as you said in another comment, if you haven't tried PhotoRec - that is the one I have had the best luck with.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM