Losing your photos is easy. A wrong click here, a mislabeled SD card there, and poof, all gone. Thankfully, in tech, you can undo some mistakes. Deleting data or formatting the wrong storage device is among them.
So, let’s see the best software you can use to recover your lost photos from an SD card or other storage device.
A quick search will bring up many software solutions for recovering lost photos. Those apps usually aren’t different compared to other data recovery solutions. They all “scan” a storage device for recognizable file structures and, if found, offer an option to recover them.
In the case of photo recovery apps, those “file structures” match image files, like JPG, PNG, and RAW files. Still, some seemingly more generic data recovery apps can perform the same task and maybe even better at it.
Thus, when you need to recover some photos, it’s better to look at the forest instead of the tree. A data recovery application might have a better “engine” for locating and recovering files than one specializing in photos. So, we didn’t look solely at photo recovery apps for this article but all data recovery solutions that can undelete lost photos.
Everyone should install a data recovery application, even if it doesn’t see daily use. Apart from being prepared for the inevitable, installing a data recovery solution also means you’re maximizing your chances of getting your lost photos back.
When you lose data from a storage device, you should immediately stop using it. Any new data stored on the device may overwrite some of the files you need to recover. If the root of the problem is a failing device, even reading from it can reduce the chance of successful data recovery. The more you use the device, the closer it will get to the point of no return.
Not having to find, download, and install a new piece of software means fewer reads and writes for your storage devices. That’s why it’s worth having a data recovery application installed and ready for action. Less use is also less wear, prolonging the uptime of a rapidly failing device. It might “buy you enough time” for a successful recovery.
Top 10 Best Photo Recovery Software for Windows/Mac in 2024
Do you need a photo recovery solution to recover files from a storage device, or did we convince you to get one “just in case”? Then, one of the following apps should do the trick. They have the same purpose, differ in some ways, and are all excellent choices for getting your photos back.
Stellar Photo Recovery is one of the most popular and trusted data recovery solutions, and for a good reason. The app hides a lot of advanced functionality behind a straightforward interface.
Despite its name, Stellar Photo Recovery can recover much more than photos. Not only does it come with support for the most popular data, image, audio, and video formats, but you can also extend it with your own.
You can use it to recover your photos from almost any type of storage device, from USB flash drives and SD cards to mechanical hard disks or solid-state drives. It also supports popular camera brands, like Canon and Sony, mirrorless, action, drone cameras, and 360 and VR shooters.
Like all the best recovery apps, Stellar Photo Recovery lets you preview your files before recovering them. At least most of them, since it supports from plain TXT files to image formats like JPEG and TIFF, and even audio and video files, like MP3s, MP4s, or MKVs. Unlike many of its peers, though, it doesn’t sweat when dealing with large media with over 18TBs of storage.
It’s worth noting that Stellar Photo Recovery also comes in a Premium Edition for extra-hard recovery cases. It’s useful when recovery can’t bring your files back in their entirety. This Premium Edition comes with extra functionality for repairing corrupt photos and videos and can even fix blurry or distorted images.
Another data recovery solution specializing in media files, Wondershare’s Recoverit Photo Recovery can bring back your lost photo, video, or audio files.
Recoverit Photo Recovery supports most types of storage, from mechanical hard disk drives to drone cameras, including the ever-popular SD cards.
We won’t go over all the formats it supports, for they’re the most popular ones you’d expect. And there are dozens of them, from photos in JPG, BMP, or RAW formats, to cinematic masterpieces in MKV and MP4 formats or the occasional funny kitten FLV.
Like a data-recovery expert Picachu, Wondershare’s Recoverit Photo Recoverit can save them all.
Tenorshare’s 4DDiG Windows Data Recovery can fish out more than media files from your storage devices. It can save your photos, video, and audio files from failing devices and undo the damage from an absent-minded deletion or format. But it can also save almost any other file type – it supports more than a thousand file types.
Like most top-tier data recovery apps, you can use 4DDiG Windows Data Recovery from bootable media. You shouldn’t skip creating such a bootable drive. It could save your precious data after a system crash that could render your OS unbootable.
One of the most straightforward recovery solutions, Glarysoft’s File Recovery Free can bring back lost files from the brink.
Glarysoft’s File Recovery Free can “undelete” almost any type of file, even if they were compressed, fragmented, or encrypted.
If it sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. Glarysoft’s File Recovery Free comes with some restrictions compared to many of its peers. It can only scan FAT, NTFS, and EFS file systems, and it’s not the optimal solution for recovering your photos from corrupted media that show up as RAW. Plus, you’re trading features for simplicity. Alternatives might be a tad more complicated but also much more versatile.
We don’t have to say much about IObit’s Undelete data recovery solution. Let’s see the significant bits as an easily digestible list:
- Clean and accessible interface? Check.
- Able to bring back the files you thought you’d lost forever? Check.
- Quick scan process? Also, check.
- Can recover most of your lost files? Well…
IObit’s Undelete presents fewer files than many of its peers. That’s because it hides all files it deems unrecoverable. However, that’s not the best approach.
Other tools also allow the partial recovery of files. Depending on the amount and position of the lost data, a TXT or JPG file might still be accessible. Even if a chunk is lost, what remains could still be usable.
With IObit Undelete, you can forget about those shades of grey. A file is either fully recoverable or gone.
If that’s no problem, for you wouldn’t spend the time in the first place trying to salvage the remains of half-lost files, IObit Undelete is worth looking into.
Recuva isn’t the most modern app of the bunch, nor does it have the most powerful recovery engine. Many of its peers may locate more results, have a faster engine, or come with many useful extra features. And despite not being actively developed anymore, Recuva remains one of the most popular data recovery solutions. How come?
It all boils down to its two most essential features and the only things you need to know about it:
Although it has a full-blown interface, it presents a kindergarten-level wizard by default. Follow its steps, and hey presto, your lost files are back. Hopefully.
It’s free, not a restricted trial of a paid version.
Thus, it’s less than optimal results, and the occasional crash shouldn’t deter you from trying it out.
EaseUS offers a range of storage-related products known for their quality and performance. EaseUS’ Partition Manager is probably the most popular, but Data Recovery Wizard is just as useful.
If you noticed the different name, don’t fret: it’s the same app. EaseUS has given Data Recovery Wizard the “Photo Recovery Software” alias, but the software is the same.
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can successfully recover most files lost after deletion, format, or corrupted volume. That includes any photos, videos, or audio files among your lost data. It’s fast, does what it promises, and is far from the most complicated data recovery solution.
Wise offers many storage-related solutions, with Wise Disk Cleaner and Wise Uninstaller being two of the most popular ones. Wise Data Recovery sits comfortably between them and promises to bring back your lost photos and more.
Like other top-of-the-line data recovery solutions, Wise Data Recovery supports over a thousand file formats, which it can pull out a wide variety of devices. It can even work with those ancient magnetic rectangles known as “floppy disks” and probably any other storage device connected to your PC.
iMyFone’s AnyRecover might not be the most popular data recovery solution, but it sure packs a punch. It’s one of the most versatile data recovery apps. It supports over a thousand file types and is compatible with almost any storage device your PC can detect.
Unlike some of its somewhat limited peers, iMyFone AnyRecover can dive into formatted or damaged devices, locate lost partitions, or even analyze RAW storage, to find all your lost files.
We should also praise its clean interface, which renders the recovery process effortless.
Easy Digital Photo Recovery is another data recovery app that prioritizes simplicity over an extended feature set. Still, it’s more than capable of pulling off precisely what you’d want it to do: bring your lost photos back.
Munsoft’s data recovery solution supports most image formats, from the popular JPEGs and GIFs to ERFs and X3Fs. It also allows you to preview each file before recovery.
Those on old PCs will appreciate how Easy Digital Photo Recovery is compatible with even ancient, by today’s standards, versions of Windows, including Windows 2000 and Server 2003.
Still, although it’s worth a look, you can find many alternatives with more features for the same price, if not less.
You didn’t find something you like in the solutions we saw up to now, but still, need to recover your missing photos from a storage device? Maybe one of the following data recovery apps will be a better match for you.
It doesn’t get more professional than R-Studio by r-tools technology. The app was initially designed for data recovery specialists. Now, this ultra-powerful solution is available to “mere mortals” like us, enabling us to recover our lost photos from most types of storage.
Be prepared, though, for that doesn’t mean it’s also simplified.
Unlike other data recovery solutions, SysTools Data Recovery Software doesn’t “only” recover files. It can also recover deleted partitions, so you won’t have to re-categorize all recovered files in folders from scratch.
In all other regards, it’s among the very best apps for getting back your lost photos. And yes, it has all the major features of its peers, plus extensive support for devices and file formats.
Disk Drill doesn’t take any awards in any particular category. It isn’t the speediest or most straightforward data recovery solution. And yet, it’s considered one of the best apps. How come? Because despite not excelling in any single regard, it also doesn’t have any cons.
PhotoRec is one of the best solutions for recovering lost files, like photos and videos, on Linux. Like many other open-source apps, it also made the jump to Windows and Macs, where it remains just as good. That is if you don’t mind its anachronistic interface.
Undelete 360 isn’t updated as frequently as its peers. Its interface borrows the Windows 7 aesthetics. And that’s precisely why it’s one of the best options for hardcore Windows 7 fans who still refuse to upgrade but also need a reliable solution for recovering a bunch of lost photos.
Prosoft Engineering’s Data Rescue 6 follows a “hybrid” approach in its design. It primarily works as a simple wizard but also presents a full-blown file-manager-ish window for selecting and previewing files for recovery. Strangely, the approach works, rendering it both an easy and powerful photo recovery solution.
Remo Recover is fine on its own as a data recovery solution. Like its peers, it enables you to undelete your photos (or other lost files) from any storage device. However, it’s even better when paired with its Remo Repair sibling, which can also attempt to repair incompletely recovered or damaged files.
Are you seeking a simple but powerful solution to recover your photos without fuss? GetData’s Recover My Photos turns recovery into an easy three-step solution:
- Choose the drive you want to scan for deleted content.
- Select if you want to scan for all files, including “lost file” types, or only for deleted ones.
- Preview the scan results and select the files you want to get back.
Do you like how Recover My Photos by GetData is a straightforward 1-2-3 affair but would prefer a more visually appealing solution? Odboso’s Photo Retrieval is what you’re seeking.
Scan a drive, check the thumbnails, choose which and where to save, and that’s the whole story!
Like r-tools’ R-Studio, OnTrack’s EasyRecovery solution was used by data recovery experts back in the day but is now available for all. However, OnTrack’s EasyRecovery is more user-friendly but also less configurable. That is, unless you go for its Technician or Toolkit top-tier versions.
Unlike what their marketing claims, even the best data recovery apps can’t recover permanently deleted photos. That’s what “permanently” means: they’re gone beyond recovery.
However, most of us might regard deleted photos, storage devices that look empty, or garbled volumes as “permanently lost data.” Yet, that’s far from true, as proven by how the apps in our list can bring this “lost data” back.
All data recovery solutions share the same goal. Still, each might approach it differently. For example, although they achieve similar results, the difference between the aesthetics and user-friendliness of Disk Drill and Photorec is night and day.
Performance and results also vary between apps. One might need half the time to recover the same files as most of its competitors. But bring them back as corrupted fractions of their former selves.
That’s why it’s best to download a trial version of the ones that look interesting to you. Then, perform a “test run” to see if they can bring your lost files back – and if you like how they do that.
Photo recovery apps are a subgroup of data recovery solutions. As such, their underlying technology is identical.
However, data recovery apps are more “general” solutions, and their engines and interfaces reflect that. Some apps that specialize in photo recovery don’t scan for all types of files, getting a nice speed boost. They might “know” about more media-related formats, even older or obscure ones. And their interface can also be more “media-friendly”, showing thumbnails or offering a large preview area.
We’d like to answer positively, but unfortunately, it’s not a given. It depends on the severity of your case of data loss. If, for example, you kept your photos on an SSD which a failed power supply recently toasted, then the answer would (probably) be negative.
You’re not dealing with catastrophic hardware failure, and your PC can recognize and access your storage device? Then the answer is “yes.” Usually.
There isn’t a single “best” app for recovering deleted photos since what’s “best” for one might not work for another.
- R-Studio has one of the most advanced data recovery engines, but many people wouldn’t make heads or tails of its interface.
- Recuva is ultra-simple and performs excellently, except when it doesn’t. Since it kept crashing on one of our PCs, it was all but unusable.
However, many consider each of those solutions “the best in their field.”
Like with photo recovery apps, no single app can be considered “the best” for the exact reasons. Thus, to avoid repeating ourselves, check the answer to that question right above.
As we saw, if you need a solution to recover lost photos, there are many apps you can turn to.
Some are geared more towards the advanced user, who prefers having absolute control over every aspect of the data recovery process. Thankfully, many prioritize simplicity, enabling anyone aged 9 to 99 to use them.
You may choose one that specializes in photos to better assist in your current data loss adventure. Or, you could get a more general data recovery solution that could potentially help if you ever lost other types of files.
In all cases, we’re sure you’ll find the one for you on our list.