How to Get Photos off SD Card without Formatting?

How to get photos off SD card without formatting? Check out this post that offers detailed methods to help you recover SD card without formatting.


By Lora / Updated on April 3, 2024

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How can I get pictures off my SD card without formatting?

Users who are using SD cards will be familiar with many data loss situations.

They might have accidentally deleted photos from SD card, or, more severely, they might have met many prompts or errors, like SD card read error, or “The SD card needs to be formatted.”


Desperate! photo SD card says "not Formatted" is all lost!?


I put the card back in the camera to hook up the entire camera to the computer and the camera said: "card not formatted - format card?"


- Question from Fordor’sTravel


That’s not quite common and easy, which usually indicates that the SD card went corrupted.

You might be wondering why the SD card would get corrupted.

Why does SD card get corrupted?

In general, the causes of SD card corruption are various.

  • Physical damage. The SD card is usually tiny in size, and is prone to get dropped, bumped, etc.
  • Virus. Viruses can access the SD card via your computer when connected. Viruses will encrypt, modify, delete, etc., the files in it.
  • Improper disconnecting. Disconnecting the SD card improperly without choosing “Safe to Remove Hardware” will cause errors and corruption.


If the SD card was physically damaged, it will be extremely difficult. If the SD card can still be recognized, it is still feasible for you to solve the problem of how to get photos off the SD card without formatting.

How to get photos off SD card without formatting?

How to get data from SD card without formatting? Some commands and tools would be helpful.

Solution 1. Use command to recover SD card without formatting

The Recover command in CMD is a command used in Command Prompt to recover readable info from the good sectors on a corrupted device.

It uses the parameters to scan the hard disks. The syntax goes like this:

recover [drive:][path]filename

 As the format has shown, it requires the exact directory and filename to recover the files.

It only recovers one file at a time and does not support wildcard.

Step 1. Input cmd in the search box > start Command Prompt > choose Run as administrator.


Step 2. Input diskpart > list disk > select disk 0 > list volume > select volume 1. Please replace the number here with the real drive letter of your affected drive.

Step 3. Input recover [drive:][path]filename

Let’s take an example, suppose you want to recover 1 picture stored in a folder named “photos” on the F: drive

recover f:\photos\travle01.jpg


Solution 2. Turn to Windows File Recovery

The method mentioned above can only restore 1 file in one time, which is extremely inconvenient and only applies to users who only need to restore a few photos from SD cards.

If you need an easier and more convenient method, the Windows File Recovery tool will be an option.

It is also a command-line app that can recover deleted and missing files from corrupted hard drives. But because it offers no graphical user interface, it will be pretty tough for ordinary users.

It uses recovery modes and switches to scan for data from the SD cards.

File system Scenarios mode
NTFS Deleted recently Regular
NTFS Deleted for a while Extensive
NTFS Formatted disk Extensive
NTFS corrupted disk Extensive
FAT and exFAT Any Extensive

To decide which mode to use, you need to check the file system first. Open This PC > right-click on the drive that has lost files > Properties.


Switches are to help you target the wanted files.

Switches Meaning Supported mode(s)
/n Filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc. All
/y: Recovers specific extension groups. Signature
/k Recovers system files. NTFS Segment​​​​​
/segment Segment mode; recovers files under NTFS drives using file record segments. Segment
/signature Signature mode; recovers files under all file system types using file headers. Signature
/u Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin. NTFS Segment

To learn more about the recovery modes and switches, refer to the How to use Windows File Recovery guide.

Now follow the guide to solve the problem of corrupted SD card recovery.

When meeting any errors, check the Windows File Recovery tutorial to fix them.

Step 1. Go to Microsoft Store > search for Windows File Recovery > click Get > after installation, click Open to start it.


Step 2. Input the recovery command.

Command format: winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]

Here the source drive must be different.

E.g., winfr F: D: /extensive /n *.jpg /n *.png


Step 3. Then input y to continue. Wait for the program to process and scan the SD card for lost pictures.

Solution 3. Perform corrupted SD card recovery without effort

The recover command and Windows File Recovery add difficulties to common users to some degree, especially the later one that uses complex parameters. Ordinary users will prefer an easier way to recover data from corrupted SD card without formatting.

How to get photos off SD card without formatting easily? MyRecover will be your best choice.

It is a comprehensive and convenient Windows data recovery tool that can restore data from any device.

Possessing many useful features, it can meet your demands. 
Restore deleted and missing files from HDD/SSD/USB/SD card, etc. 
Deleted data could be recovered with the original path, filename, and format. 
Cover multiple data loss situations: file deletion, disk formatting, Recycle Bin emptying, system crash, viruses attack, etc. 
Compatible with Windows 11/10/8/7/Server.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Download and run the app>hover the mouse over the affected SD card > Scan.


Step 2. Filters like: Size, Type, Date modified, etc., are feasible to help you target the photos.


Step 3. Go to Deleted files> check the original location > select the media files > click Recover x files. Or go to Other missing files> select Images, Videos, etc.


Not only photos, but it can also recover media files like videos, audio files, etc.

Wrapping up

How to get photos off SD card without formatting has been introduced. Several methods are useful if you need to recover photos from your SD card. Also, some other tools like Disk Management, Disk Check, etc., will be helpful in corrupted SD card recovery.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.