NEF File Recovery | How to Recover .nef Files [4 Methods]

This guide provides step-by-step instructions on NEF file recovery and help you recover deleted nef files. Check it out and get some help!


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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If you're an experienced photographer, you understand the frustration of losing precious photos. Even common camera users like us can imagine the pain of losing the photos we took during our trips and travel.

If you use a Nikon camera, there's a chance you may accidentally delete or format NEF files on your SD card or PC.

Additionally, logical corruption or physical damage to your storage device can result in the loss of NEF files. Many users are now seeking help to recover deleted pictures from Nikon cameras.

However, there's still hope for retrieving your lost NEF files. This guide will walk you through the NEF file recovery process, ensuring you don't lose any valuable images.

But before we delve into the recovery process, let's briefly understand what NEF files are and how they differ from other image formats.


What is a .nef file?

NEF (Nikon Electronic Format) files are exclusive to Nikon cameras and serve as RAW image formats. These files store minimally processed data directly from your camera's sensor, resulting in exceptional image quality.

Unlike common formats like TIFF, NEF files retain their superior quality, allowing you to make non-destructive edits. You can adjust contrast, hue, apply filters, and more without compromising the image's integrity.

However, opening NEF files can be a challenge due to their unique properties. Nikon software such as Capture NX-D, Microsoft Photos, or third-party tools like Adobe Photoshop and IrfanView can be used to open NEF files effectively.

What’s worse, .nef file loss is another big challenge for users due to various factors.

Why NEF files are missing?

Now, let's explore the various reasons why photos are lost from memory cards and PC.

Unintentional deletion. Mistakes happen, especially when operating your camera in a rush or attempting to clear out old photos. However, if you act quickly, there's a good chance of recovering NEF files lost due to accidental deletion. 
Accidental formatting. Forgetting important files on your SD card, USB, or hard drive can lead to accidental formatting. Again, acting promptly increases the chances of recovering lost NEF files from a formatted storage device. 
Storage Media Corruption. Logical errors, such as corruption, are not uncommon in storage devices. If your SD card or another media becomes corrupt, you can still recover files from it. However, it's crucial to prioritize NEF file recovery before attempting to fix the corrupt storage device. 
Virus and malware. Viruses and malware can corrupt or remove files from your storage device without your knowledge. For example, some users have noticed that SD card deleting files by itself after infected by viruses. 
Physical damage. As long as your computer can read data from a damaged storage device, there remains a possibility of recovering NEF files. However, in cases of severe damage, professional data recovery services might be necessary.

Rest assured, in most scenarios, it is possible to recover deleted NEF files. The likelihood of recovery depends on several factors, including the cause of file loss and your subsequent usage of the storage device.

How to recover deleted & lost .nef files?

Let's now explore the 4 feasible methods for NEF file rescue.

Method 1. Perform an easy NEF file recovery via MyRecover

Losing precious NEF photos can be devastating, especially for professional photographers like you.

But fear not! We have the perfect tool to rescue your valuable memories and restore your peace of mind. Allow us to introduce MyRecover, the ultimate solution for NEF data recovery.

Step into a world of possibilities as MyRecover empowers you to retrieve deleted or lost NEF files effortlessly.

With its robust functionality and user-friendly interface, this powerful tool is designed to navigate the intricate landscape of data recovery with ease.

Your Ultimate Solution for NEF data Recovery
  • Recover 42 kings of images, including nef/cr2/jpg/png/gif/tif, etc.
  • Apply to various data loss scenarios: deletion, disk formatting, system crashes, viruses, etc. It also helps with RAW hard drive data recovery.
  • Available on internal/external healthy/corrupted/formatted HDD/SSD/USB/SD cards, etc.
  • Support Windows 11/10/8/7/Server.


Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
20,000,000 people have downloaded it

Step 1. Install and run the software > hover the mouse over the source drive where your .nef files are lost from (connect your external devices like SD cards if necessary) > click Scan.


Step 2. Search for your wanted files by filename, extension, etc., and sort them by Type, Size, Path, etc. E.g., you could filter Images from the scanned results, or input “nef” in the search box to locate your lost/deleted nef files.


Step 3. Go to Deleted files/Other missing files/Recycle Bin > find the nef files in the original location > select the photos you want > click Recover x files.


If your nef files were lost from an external storage device, go to Other missing files > Other files.

Tips: Due to frequent write and delete operations on a camera's SD card/USB, fragmentation often occurs. Consequently, it is advisable to allow the deep scan to complete uninterrupted. Once the scan is finished, MyRecover will identify any fragmented files under the "Other missing files" section.

Experience the relief and satisfaction of having MyRecover by your side, safeguarding your NEF photos from the perils of accidental deletion, formatting mishaps, and storage device corruption.

Don't let lost NEF files be a permanent part of your photographic journey. Choose MyRecover and unlock the power of recovery today.

Currently, this app is offering Monthly/Yearly/Lifetime plans. Upgrade MyRecover to the Pro and Tech versions, and enjoy unlimited file recovery.

Method 2. Recover .nef files using the CHKDSK Windows Utility

In many cases, the corruption may lie within the sectors of your storage device, rather than the file itself. This is where CHKDSK, a built-in command-line utility in Windows, becomes handy.

If you find CHKDSK command not working, try the methods in the guide to fix it.

Step 1. Launch Command Prompt by searching for "cmd" in the Start Menu, and select "Run as administrator."


Step 2. Execute the following command: "chkdsk F: /f"


The CHKDSK utility will initiate a scan on the drive and automatically repair any issues encountered during the process. Check if you can now access the NEF files.

How to open NEF files?

In addition to NEF file recovery issues, many users are also wondering how to open nef files.

Method 1. Convert the NEF file to another format

Converting corrupted NEF files to a different format, such as JPG, can often help you re-access your nef files if they were not deleted but just fail to open.

Online file format converters like iloveimg and Convertio offer a straightforward solution. Upload your NEF files to one of these tools, select the desired file format for conversion, and proceed to download the converted files.

With any luck, you should now be able to view the converted files successfully.

Method 2. Open the NEF File in other apps

Trying another app to open the nef files might solve the problem. You could try viewing the NEF files in Microsoft Photos. With the operating systems up-to-date, you could easily open them.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, as a professional photographer or ordinary user who takes photos during travel, the loss of images can be painful and annoying.

However, if you happen to lose some NEF photos, there's no need to panic. Just learn how to recover deleted nef files from PC or SD cards in this NEF file recovery guide.

With a reliable data recovery tool at your disposal, you can recover your files and save them to your computer without seeking external assistance.

What's more, it is suggested to back up or transfer photos from SD card to cloud or use other methods, thus protecting your data.

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.