How to Recover Photos & Videos from Digital Camera or Camcorder

This post was last updated on July 24, 2016.

Photo and video loss happen here and there, if you are a photographer who holds your own digital camera (Canon, Nikon, Samsung, Olympus, Fuji, etc.) or camcorder (Sony handycam, JVC Everio) to capture beautiful moments of daily life.

But sometimes previous memories can be lost due to either human errors (accidentally deletion, formatting the device memory) or technical errors (unable to access the storage media for photos and videos) thus put you in panic. Here are two specific examples:

The First Type – Delete Photos or Videos Unintentionally
  • "I carelessly pressed delete ALL button on my Canon EOS digital camera and never intended to erase those most important photos, is there any way to recover digital files?"
  • "I formatted the SD memory card insides my JVC camcorder, forgot to back up a few video chips that needed to be shared on YouTube with friends. Is it possible to restore the videos back to life again?"
The Second Type – Digital Media Storage Device Error
  • "The memory card on my camera became corrupted and each time I wanted to access, it asked me if I want to format it and more oddly it wouldn't let me format. How could I retrieve the files (photos, videos and audio pieces)?"


Yes, it's definitely possible to recover the lost photos or video files from your digital camera or camcorder. But note that I said possible (meaning not 100% guaranteed). I'll explain why later. Here's how to recover the files in four steps:
Step 1: Stop using the camera or camcorder immediately. If your digital device is equipped with memory card (stick) or external hard drive, best to take the chip out and put it in secure place and don't let it have any chance to be damaged such as fall onto the ground, etc. Because all your deleted photos or videos are still stored on the device.
Step 2: Download and get a data recovery software to help. Recuva is the best one I recommend as it is 100% free and the program is with easy to use interface (see below). You may learn from my previous post tutorial to recover deleted files with Recuva if you don’t know how to operate. Note: Recuva works on Windows, for those who use a Mac, see this post for free Mac file recovery apps. If none of them helps, this anysoftwaretools article also lists several great options.

Step 3: Connect the storage media to your computer. You have two ways to connect. The first one is to directly connect the camera or camcorder (with memory card or hard drive insde) via a USB cable. The other is to take the storage device out and load it into a card reader or so and plug to your computer. You may also have other ways to connect, all in all is to make sure the storage media in your camera or camcorder is showed as "removable drive" on your PC or Mac. 
Step 4: Start the recovery process. After the device is detected, open the recovery software and start the scan automatically. Depending on the volume of your camera, it may take you a few minutes to hours to recover those photos or video files. Additional tutorial can been found in this camera undelete guide. Good luck.


The success rate of any data recovery relies on whether the data is overwritten or storage media damaged or not. Digital camera or camcorder recovery is no exception (that's why I said it is just possible to recover preciously). So you'd better follow the tips if you want to maximize chances of recovery.
  • First of all – Do not save more files to the storage of your camera or camcorder. Better take the storage device out as each read or write operation may put your deleted files at risk.  
  • Secondly – After the photos or videos are found by the program, better save the recovered files to a different disk in case the previous data got partially or fully overwritten, once overwritten, it is almost impossible to recover unless a data recovery service is performed. 
  • Lastly - Feel free to check out the slrlounge article for 10 good habits to avoid camera memroy card problems. It's quite useful.

Still have any problems recovering files from your camera or camcorder? Share them in the comments. I'll try to help.

6 Tested Free Data Shredders to Erase Files & Folders Permanently

Are you still wondering if there are some quick ways to delete your private photos, videos and files confidential permanently from your PC or external devices (digital camera memory cards, USB flash drive, etc.) and make them unrecoverable?

Today I am going to share with you some totally free data shredders. You may already know that it is quite possible to recover files deleted (with Recuva for example) using soft-delete methods, such as emptying the bin or Shift+Del etc. As a matter of fact when you use similar methods to get rid of files, the real data are not erased permanently. That's why we say deletion is just another way to make things hidden.

Let us put it simple as to the reasons why. When you delete a file with common ways (wipe the recycle bin, Shift+del etc.), the real data contained in the file is still 100% intact there stored on the sectors of your storage media (If you are running PC it’s in the hard drive, if you are using external devices like USB, memory cards… same situation), those data are just marked as “deleted” temporarily. They are really deleted under condition that new saved data occupy their space, and technically speaking they get overwritten. So it is obviously only your deleted files are overwritten, they are erased permanently. Learn more from this Howtogeek article.

Another question – when will they get covered? Well, that depends on the storage volume of your hard drive or memory card etc. Sometimes it takes years while others may take months or even days. The more free volume out there, the less likely those data get deleted permanently. As a result, there comes no surprising if you hear someone successfully recovered files deleted years ago.

Thanks to those free data shredders, we can get things done much easier. Here are the top freeware that can help erase files or folders containing quite important information you don’t want for good. I have tested them all. Note: all the software below work under Windows based PCs. If you are on an Apple Mac machine, check out the Mac shredder software instead.

Free Data Shredder 1 – Freeeraser

This is the one I like most. After you installed the program and each time you start it, there will be an icon similar to your desktop Recycle Bin. But it is different from your bin. You can drag it to anywhere on your desktop and adjust the showing size by > right click the icon > Appearance >Icon Size > (Extra large, Large, Medium, Small, Extra Small). As to how to shred your files or folders, cannot be more simple. Just drag the objects you don’t want to this second “Recycle Bin” and hit “Continue”, they will be gone  forever.

Best for: General Personal Users

Free Data Shredder 2 – Eraser

This one is most powerful and professional data eraser. You can set a task even a schedule to shred those files, folders, unused disks and items sleeping on your Recycle Bin. Take care! Besides files and folders, this utility can also wipe your disk and clean the files on your bin. Furthermore, there are thirteen file erasure methods (default method: Gutmann 35 passes) for your choices. I can’t see any reason why this one cannot be the best of best for technical users.

Best for: Companies especially involved in security field.

Free Data Shredder 3 – File Shredder V2.0

No 3 is also great. “ It is free for both personal and commercial use” declared on its official website. So any one can use it to shred any files, folders or even wipe the disk you want to donate etc for FREE. Moreover, the Settings let you to do erasure very flexiably. 5 secure shredding algorithms for users’ option and the default is “DoD 5220-22.M”.

Suitable for: any PC users

Free Data Shredder 4 – Evidence Nuker (no longer available)

This file shredder tool is a little bit different from the others. It’s more like a privacy clean utility than a shredder. You can use it to scan the evidence (document history, search history, cookies, cache, website history etc.) you left behind while net surfing. And clean them forever by choosing one of the 4 levels.

Best for: Those who surf the net in public computers or who care about their footprints.

Free Data Shredder 5 – ZillaSoft Data Shredder

ZillaSoft Data Shredder is able to shred files, folders, Recycle Bin, and erase entire drive and most specially Restore Points with built-in scheduler. Speaking from the data security angle, I don’t recommend the Restored Points shredding. But speaking from the software function part, it gives users one more choice and that’s not bad thing anyway but you'd better take care with this special function. Note: using OS X? This article explains how to erase Mac the easy way.

Best for: General Users

Free Data Shredder 6 – Data Sweeper Pro

Compared with other shredders, Data Sweeper Pro is a pure file shredder which only shreds file by file, not supporting folders or even drive and not too much GUI. It reminds me of the old program design style. As to the merit of this program – you can choose the overwrite times from the right button field. There more times you select, the less likelihood the shredded files be recovered.

Best for: users who need to shred single files.

Okay, these are the 6 data shredders I have tested one by one. Any other free file wipers or erasers out there? Let me know in the comments.

Recuva Tutorial 2016: Step by Step Guide to Recover Deleted Files for Free

Last update: August 2, 2016 -- revised outdated content about Recuva and added a few new resources.

Everything seems fine when you are working on a computer dealing with business papers or organizing precious photos like I usually do. All of a sudden, you trashed a few files by accident. Later you need those files deadly.

Thanks to Recuva – a completely freeware capable of recovering those deleted files. You don't have to panic any more (hopefully). The program is totally free and very powerful and easy-to-use.

Recuva is free Windows file recovery tool designed by Piriform (the developer of another awesome app called CCleaner) to recover files deleted from storage devices (PC, digital cameras, memory cards, external hard drive, USB flash drive etc.), no matter your files are removed or lost due to human error or technical issues such as virus attack, drive crash or corruption. 

Note: the utility works under Windows operating system only, hence there is no Recuva for Mac. However, you can see this post for a list of completely free Mac recovery tools. Also, if Recuva fails to help, you can also try other freeware such as Pandora Recovery, PhotoRec, or these free data recovery software.

Recuva and CCleaner have been part of my desktop icons ever since I had my PC. To be honest, I love the apps, although I met several issues while using them. They are really amazing.

Okay, now time to show you the tutorial.

First things always first – in order to maximize the chances of data recovery, better put the storage device in safe place and NEVER attempt to put more files into it. This is to make sure your files are not overwritten or destroyed by physical damage.

STEP 1  Install the program on your computer (download from Piriform). Make sure the storage device where your deleted files located can be detected by your PC. If your deleted files are stored on an external device, connect it to your PC via USB cable or card reader first. Open the software. Select the file types (Pictures, Music, Video, Compressed, Emails) or "Other" to show all files.

STEP 2  Select file location. There are four situations available for your choice. Or you can directly go to the destination by browsing from "In a specific location".

Click "Next" and you should see the following scene. Here you have two options: Enable Deep Scan or not. My suggestion is DO NOT enable it right now as Deep Scan is quite time-intensive. Only when your deleted files are not found after quick scan, then go to this mode.

STEP 3  Scanning Process. Once you click "start" button. The scanning process will start. Don't worry if you didn’t select Deep Scan, the scanning will be quite fast (within few minutes).

After the scanning is over, take a breathe! You'll see lots of files found and most cases not all are what you want. Follow the instruction "Switch to advanced mode".

Then you see more options to filter the found files. It will be much easier to get what you want (if you are lucky :).

STEP 4  Save the Recovered Files. Once you find your deleted files, highlight them and click "Recover". Your selected files will be exported. Done!

After testing Recuva for several times. There are some setbacks that may not be ignored (see my detailed review here). Firstly, too many junk files (even system cache or temporary files) are found, if you scan the whole disk. It makes us hard to find the real ones we want. Secondly, the application doesn't support preview of certain file types such as documents, videos and several photo formats. Also, per readers' questions, Recuva can't retrieve data from iPhones. You can visit MyiOSData to find iOS recovery tools.

However, the advantages far surpass its setbacks. In general, it is an awesome file recovery utility. Plus, it's free. What do you think? Have you ever tried this program? Let me know!