How to Recover Digital Photos

Last week our blog was about backup and cloud service solutions for storing your digital pictures. However, if you have lost some of your photos, you may find yourself in need of a recovery solution.

In the event of an accidental deletion, you may be able to find your pictures in your trash or recycle bin. If you have deleted them from there, you still have options. First, as soon as you realize you have deleted the file, stop everything you're doing. When a computer deletes a file, all it really does is note that the space where that file is stored is free space--the data is still there, but the computer knows it can now write over it--and it will happily do so as you save new files. So as soon as you realize you've accidentally deleted your pictures, do as little as possible in order to prevent the computer from writing over that data.

Accidental Deletion

If you have a Windows computer, a user-friendly free program like Undelete Plus ( will usually be able to help you find your deleted files. Another free option for Windows is Recuva (

On the Mac, you may have to use a paid option, such as Data Rescue ( in order to recover your deleted pictures.

These programs will spit out a list of all the deleted files they can find, many of which will be system files that are normally created or deleted in the everyday operation of your computer. You should be able to search within the program for the exact file names or types of files you're looking for to narrow the results.

Hard Drive Failure or Other Losses

Sometimes with a hard drive crash or a virus, your computer won't even recognize your hard drive anymore. It may be unbeatable or have lost its filing structure so the computer no longer knows what to do with the data. In this case, you're going to have to go for a more advanced option such as the program GetDataBack ( With GetDataBack on your Windows computer you can download the demo and run it to see what information it can find on your damaged hard drive. You can even preview the files to make sure they're not corrupt. If it found what you want, you'll have to pay for the program to restore the files. I have used this program myself to recover files from dead hard drives.

If all else fails or if your hard drive is physically damaged, you may find yourself in need of forensics data recovery. A data recovery specialist can often restore your pictures from a hard drive that has had data written over the original files, or suffered internal physical damage. Damaged hard drives or ones that have had the data written over may be difficult for consumers to get information from, but these professionals can recover unbelievable amounts of your data.

Recovery after deletion or damage is not a guaranteed thing, but if you're like most people, the lost files are worth the long shot in order to recover them.

As always, your best bet is to preserve your digital photos as well as possible and prevent yourself from having to take extraordinary steps to recover them. Make sure you use one of the backup suggestions above and do your best to protect your computer from viruses and physical harm.

Learn more about how 29k Productions protects the photos and videos we work with.

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