How can I recover photo files from a memory card with a corrupt filesystem?

  • I know this is not specifically a photography issue but since many of us with prosumer/professional-level DLSRs use Compact Flash cards, it is bound to happen to others as well.

    I have a Sandisk 16GB Ultra card that occasionally had the camera reporting inability to access the card. I had to reinsert the card to continue using it. I was able to read the card and transfer the photo files to my computer drive. Today, the same thing happened again, just that nearing the capacity of the card, it failed one last time and the camera was subsequently unable to read it anymore. Despite reinsertion.

    My other CF cards never once exhibited this problem, so it's pretty much isolated to this card.

    The card is similarly unrecognisable on my computer CF card reader. I think the filesystem is toast, but I suspect the photo files are still intact. I would like to find ways where I can inspect the raw binary data in the card and hopefully recover the photos?

    I did see that question but I did not possess fundamental understanding about the differences between CF and SD card recording formats (not OS filesystem), and if raw card readers need to do anything special.

  • There are two utilities from CGSecurity that might help.

    • TestDisk - Allows direct access to disk data and file recovery from corrupt partition tables.
    • PhotoRec - Specifically targeted at recovering photos by identifying byte patterns in images (& video) files.

    Depending on what has caused your card to fail will depend on which of these tools will work best.

    You can use TestDisk to do a raw backup of the card first to prevent further damage by using recovery tools incorrectly.

    I used PhotoRec to recover my files thanks. Great that it's free, so guess cannot complain about the lack of a GUI.

    +1 for **PhotoRec**: My card had a destroyed file system (Windows and camera didn't recognise it), but I was able to recover all photos from it by using this great software. Can't recommend it more!

    +1 for recommending free and open source software that works. I tried to find the raw backup option in TestDisk but couldn't find it. I eventually just went ahead and copied the files on the card. It managed to recover every single photo. Excellent program.

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