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How to > Recover accidentaly deleted images

A mistake, I will always remember, happened to me few years ago while shooting a reportage about the Italian historical car race 1000 Miles published on “ClassicCars" magazine. After three days shooting, although backing up all the pictures, I was running out of memory  capacity; trying do to some “on fly” editing I deleted an entire 1 GB CF memory card not yet backed up.


Stop shooting on the same card! That’s the first thing to do when you accidentally delete an image file or inadvertently format a memory card full of images. Won’t happen to you? Thing again, sooner or later every photographer accidentally deletes an image they meant to keep.
But it doesn’t have to be a disaster. The good news is there are software programs that can find images, even if you “deleted” them. But you must stop shooting as soon as the accident occurs, otherwise new images will be written in the space occupied by the images you accidentally deleted, rendering them unrecoverable.
Digital images are temporarily stored on memory cards as a set of numbers. We can perform a procedure called “delete” but the images are not actually deleted per se. Instead, the physical space they occupied is marked as being available so that the system knows it can write a new set of numbers there. When a memory card is formatted, all of the space is marked as being free and available. Once this happens, the images, even though they are still there, are no longer recognized by the camera or your computer and new image files can be written in the same space they occupy before.
Some of the most qualified manufacturers or memory cards offer image recovery software.
Sundisk offers two versions of image recovery software , Rescue Pro and Rescue Pro Deluxe.
RescuePro Deluxe supports more raw formats and more  video/multimedia formats, but for most photographers , including me, Rescue Pro 3.2 is sufficient.
You have to load the affected memory card in an external card reader and fire up RescuePro.The menu-driven software is intuitive and easy to use You can choose to recover photos, videos, or other data files or select other functions. Note that this software works  with just about every brand and type of memory card, but will not recover images that images that have been deleted from you’re your from your computer’s hard drive.
RescuePro examines the data that is on the memory card and, using proprietary algorithms, looks for patterns that could be digital images, video or music files. It’s very effective and while no image recovery software comes with an ironclad guarantee, RescuePro will save your bacon more times than not.
Lexar Image Rescue 3 Software is also a powerful easy-to-use program that works with all brands of memory cards and provides three recovery modes. High Level Search is the fastest mode, but it works only if the card has not been reformatted. This method is capable of restoring any type of file, not just image file and retains original files names and extensions. This mode relies on existing files structure info, so if the card has been badly corrupted, do not use this mode.
The Low Level Search mode is slower and cannot restore the original files names, but it will work even when the card has been reformatted or the data is badly scrambled. This search is slow because it examines every bite of data in the card, looking for patterns that indicate the existence of image files.
If low level can’t find your images you still have one option left. The Extensive search mode operates in a similar way to the low level search , only more thoroughly. It recovers left over leftover image fragments as well as full images.
Most image recovery software packages also perform additional functions, including error checking card formatting and displaying the card technical information. You can also use them to permanently erase all files and data from a memory card so that it cannot be recovered by any means.
It’s important to note that’s another person may be able to restore images that you intentionally deleted. Think about that. If you loan a camera to a friend or sell your gear to strangers, be careful. They may be able to restore and download images from your reformatted memory card. You can protect yourself by scrub-deleting the data files from the card. Secure erase, a feature that’s part of  Lexar's Image Rescue software, overwrites all data and fills the memory card with meaningless numbers. That’s the only way  to permanently obliterate the image files and render them unrecoverable.
One final piece of advice. Don’t wait until the barn is blazing before you try the new fire hose. Install the image recovery software of your choice and give it a spin.
Perform a practice recovery mission using a card that’s been frequently used and reformatted and when the real accident happens you will have the procedure down pat.

Source: Shutterbug Magazine


Renato Valterza - Stock, Outdoor and Travel photography
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