How to Recover Deleted Photos from SD Card [Free]

Take the following measures to recover deleted photos from SD card even due to accidentally lost, corrupted, and formatted SD cards.


By Lena / Updated on May 15, 2024

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SD cards are commonly used in Android phones, digital cameras, and other devices to store photos, videos, and music.  Don't worry too much when photos get deleted from your SD card/Micro SD card, this comprehensive guide will show you how to recover photos from SD card with ease.

Warning: When photos are lost, you need to stop using the SD card as soon as possible to increase the probability of data recovery.

Reasons Why Photos Are Deleted from SD Card

Before SD card recovery, it is especially important to know the reasons why these photos disappear. Some key points that may cause photo loss from SD Cardsare listed here:

✦ Accidental Deletion: Users may have unintentionally deleted some photos from the memory card. However, as long as these lost photos are not overwritten by new data, the success rate of recovering deleted photos will be relatively high.

✦ SD card is formatted: A quick formatting operation of the memory card will directly lead to loss of all data. If the formatted memory card is not used to store new data, the possibility of recovering formatted photos from the memory card is higher.

✦ SD card corruption: Photo loss may occur when the partition on the memory card is damaged resulting in inability to access it properly. When trying to access the damaged memory card in File Explorer, users may receive messages such as "Location unavailable. H:\ Unaccessible. The file or directory is corrupted and readable" and other errors.

✦ Virus or malware infection: The device is susceptible to virus or malware attacks when browsing the web or downloading files. This may destroy or delete data, which may cause serious data loss problems.

✦ Compatibility issues: some SD cards and digital devices may have compatibility issues.

✦ Physical Damage: If an SD card suffers physical damage, it may lead to data loss or the disappearance of pictures. In this case, the possibility of recovering lost photos is extremely low.

✦ Hidden files or folders: Photos may still exist on the SD card but are hidden due to certain settings or malware interference. Users can adjust device settings to show hidden files and folders or scan the SD card with data recovery software to find hidden pictures.

Recover Deleted Photos from SD Card

Can I Recover Deleted Files from SD Card?

Yes, you can recover photos deleted from SD card recovery is /Micro SD card.

First of all, when a photo is deleted from an SD card, it does not directly erase the photo's data, but rather marks the storage space for that data as available. This means that the data still exists on the physical storage medium of the SD card, it is just no longer referenced by the file system. Therefore, the data can still be recovered before it is overwritten by new data.

Secondly, professional data recovery software is usually able to scan the storage space of the SD card for data that is marked as deleted but still exists. These software utilize specific algorithms to identify and recover this data so that it becomes usable again.

Moreover, if the user has ever backed up the data on the SD card before deleting the photos, then even if the photos are deleted, they can be restored from the backup. Backups are an important means of preventing data loss and are crucial for protecting important files.

So, the reason why it is possible to recover photos deleted from SD card is that the data is not really erased but just marked as available, while professional data recovery software and backup means can help us recover deleted files from SD card. Next, I will show you the steps of recovering deleted photos from SD card free online.

Check Internal Memory or Storage to Recover Deleted Images from SD Card

The deleted photos will not be permanently deleted. On an Android phone, it will be moved to a Recently Deleted folder in your Photo app. In general, it will be kept for around 30 days.

Open the Recently Deleted folder, locate and select the deleted photos, and click Restore to recover them to their original location.

Recently Deleted

In Windows or Mac, the deleted photos are usually in the Recycle Bin folder as long as they are still in the recycling period.

For Windows PC:

Double-click Recycle Bin icon to open it. Locate the deleted photos, right-click your mouse, and select Restore. It will recover deleted photos to its original location.


For Mac:

Click the Trash icon at the right hand of Dock. Then, locate your deleted files and select them, right-click your mouse, and select Put Back.

Put Back

How to Recover Deleted Photos from SD Card with Data Recovery Software

Whether you are using Windows or Mac, there are many data recovery software to help you recover deleted photos from SD card. Here we’ll introduce you to two freeware - MyRecover for Windows and PhotoRec for Mac.

For Windows PC:

MyRecover is one of the best free software to recover deleted pictures from SD card in Windows 7, 8, 10, 11 and Windows Server.

  • Free recover of almost all image formats: JPG/JPEG/JPE, PNG, TIF/TIFF, HEIC/HEIF, GIF, ARW etc and 200+ file types, up to 500MB.
  • With advanced scanning technology, you can find and recover as many of your deleted photos as possible. The scanning process is automatic.
  • Recover deleted photos and other file types with a high success rate and fast speed.
  • Keep the original file name, format, quality, and path after recovering deleted photos.
  • Recover deleted photos in different situations, such as system crashes, accidental deletion, virus attacks, etc.

Click the download button to get the best free software to recover deleted photos from SD card. 

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Select the SD card partition.

Connect the SD card containing deleted photos to your Windows PC with a card reader. Hover the mouse over the SD card drive, and click Scan.


Step 2. Select the photos.

It will automatically enable Quick Scan Deep Scan method to search your deleted photos or other lost file type. Once it finds any pictures, it will list all of them in the following window. You can select the deleted photos to recover during the scanning process or wait for the final result.


Step 3. Recover target photos.

Select the deleted photos you want to recover and click the Recover x files button to retrieve them.


● You can choose to restore deleted pictures to original or new location. To prevent overwriting, new location will be a better choice.
● You can also use it to recover deleted files in Windows Server 2016, 2019, 2022, etc.
● Besides SD card data recovery, you still can use it to recover deleted files from USB drive, external disk, and other devices.

For Mac:

PhotoRec is a command-line version of Mac data recovery software. With it, you can recover deleted photos from memory card, as well as other file types, up to 400 kinds, from music, videos, archives to documents.

Step 1. Insert your SD card into Mac with deleted photos. Download and install PhotoRec on your Mac. Then, launch it with Terminal. It requires you to enter the Mac password.

Type Password

Step 2. Select the SD card where you want to recover deleted photos. Then, press Enter.

Select SD Card

Step 3. Select partition type and file system as prompted and press Enter in order.

Step 4. Then, select the output folder to save the photos you want to recover. Press C to recover deleted photos from memory card on Mac.

Select Location

Free Recover Deleted Photos from Backup Image

If you create a copy of your photos, you can recover them from backup image. But it depends on how often you backup your photos and whether it’s the latest backup. If not, please continue to read below and try data recovery software.

For Windows PC:

Step 1. Navigate to Control Panel > System and Security and select Backup and Restore (Windows 7). Then, click Restore my files.

Restore My Files

Step 2. In the Restore Files window, you can search or browse for files and folders to restore.

  • Search: type part of the name of photos and select the deleted photos to restore.
  • Browse for files: navigate to the folder containing deleted photos from SD card and select it. Then, click Add Files.
  • Browse for folders: select the entire folder with deleted photos.  

Restore with Windows Backup

Step 3. Select a location to restore deleted photos from SD card. You can choose original location or browse to new location. Then, click Start Restore.

Tip: You can also restore from file history backup. Please check Method 9 in recover deleted files in Windows 10.

For Mac:

Step 1. Click the Launchpad icon in the Dock, find Time Machine, and click Enter Time Machine.


Step 2. Use the up and down arrows to locate the deleted photos.

Step 3. Click Restore to recover the selected photos. Wait until the recovery process is complete, then your lost photos will come back to the previous location.


Both Windows & Mac:

Besides built-in backup software, some users may still create a cloud backup in OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc. If you have the most recent version, download your deleted photos from them. Here take OneDrive as an example:

Step 1. Go to and log in with your Microsoft OneDrive account.

Step 2. Navigate to the folder containing deleted photos. Select the photos you want to restore and click the Download button to retrieve deleted photos from SD card.


Recover Deleted Images from SD Card with Data Recovery Service

Data recovery software is the most effective method, but sometimes you need more help. For example, you don't recover deleted pictures from data recovery software successfully or the SD card might be physically damaged.

If your photos are valuable, you need to send them to a data recovery service for help. The data recovery services can read the damaged card with advanced equipment or technology, such as LC Technology in SanDisk. For services, you could consider using Western Data Recovery, Drive Savers, Kroll Ontrack, etc.

Recover Deleted Photos from Corrupted SD Card

Sometimes you may need to recover data from corrupted SD card if it behaves abnormally or malfunctions. But first? You need to identify your SD card and find out if the problem is caused by an SD card or something else.

▶ Way 1. Identify your SD card

Get another SD card reader and connect SD card with it and then to your computer.

  • If you can access your photos on SD card, the original card reader may be damaged.
  • If not, check the cable connection or the USB port for problems. If all is not a problem, then it is a problem with the SD card.

Or you can insert the SD card into smart TV, digital camera, or any device with an SD card slot. If it can be detected, the root cause is the SD card reader.

▶ Way 2. Show Hidden Files or Folders

There is a chance your photos are not deleted but merely hidden. So you can choose to show hidden files or folders in Windows or Mac.

For Windows:

Open Windows Explorer. Then, click View and Options. In the Options window, check Show hidden files, folders and drives and click OK > Apply.

Show Hidden Files Folders

For Mac:

Go to Finder and open the Macintosh HD folder. Then, press Command + Shift + > to display all hidden files.

▶ Way 3. Assign a New Drive Letter

In general, Windows will automatically assign a drive letter to a newly connected SD card. But sometimes you cannot do it in the Windows Explorer due to system conflicts. Please do it manually.

Step 1. Connect your SD card with a card reader and then to your computer. Type diskmgmt.msc in the search box and press Enter to open Disk Management.

Step 2. Right-click the SD card and select Change Drive Letter and Paths...

Step 3. In the pop-up window, click Change and select a new drive letter. Then, press OK.


How to Avoid Deleting Photos from SD Card

With a little care and some good habits in using SD cards, you can avoid the problem of SD card photo loss. Here are some useful tips to help you.

  • Always choose qualified SD cards from well-known manufacturers. Low-quality memory cards and card readers might cause data loss easily.
  • Store SD card in dry and cool place at room temperature.
  • Don’t remove SD card from devices while in use. It’s recommended to eject it safely to avoid data corruption.
  • Don’t use the same SD card on multiple devices.
  • Turn off the camera before removing SD card.
  • Format SD card in the camera regularly.
  • Stop using the device when its battery is low or SD card storage is nearly full. If you continue to use it, you may lose recent photos or damage your memory card.
  • Create a copy of your SD card regularly. To keep the most recent photos possible, you need to schedule backup your SD card and photos on it. The backup frequency depends how frequency you add new photos to SD card.

Among them, the best practice is to backup SD card and photos automatically with free backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard. It offers you daily, weekly, monthly, event trigger and USB plug in backup feature. The fastest backup interval is hourly backup.  

Step 1. Download and install Windows backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. Then, click Backup > Disk Backup to backup the entire SD card including photos.

disk backup

Step 2. Set the Task Name to distinguish this backup task from others. Click Add Disk to choose the SD card.

Add Disk

Step 3. Select a location to store all the data on your SD card. You can backup files in SD card to internal or external disk, USB flash drive, network drive, NAS device, Cloud Drive, etc.

Select Backup Destination

Step 4 (optionally). Click Schedule Backup and enable DailyWeeklyMonthlyEvent triggers or USB plug in to backup disk automatically. Thus, you will not lose any photos added later.

Schedule Settings General

Step 5. Click Start Backup to backup SD card and photos on it. Then, it will backup only new photos in the SD card.

FAQs about SD Card Photos Recovery

✍ Do deleted files from SD card go to recycle bin?

No, the deleted files will not go to Recycle Bin, since it’s an external storage device. But your files are still recoverable and there are many ways to recover deleted files from SD card.

✍ How long do deleted photos from SD card on phone?

The deleted photos on phone will be kept in the Recently Deleted folder for about 30 days. So you can recover them before then.

✍ Is it possible to recover RAW photos from SD card?

Yes, it’s possible to recover RAW photos from SD card, but only if you use data recovery software that can recognize them.

✍ How to recover photos from formatted SD card?

To recover photos from formatted SD card, the first is to stop using this card right now. Then, check if you have the most recent backup. If not, try data recovery software.

Final Words

That’s all about how to recover deleted photos from SD card. Data loss happens for various reasons but there are many methods to get them back quickly. Among them, the best free photo recovery software - MyRecover and PhotoRec can be the most effective method. 

But no one can promise that there is a way to recover all of your deleted photos from SD card. The best way to keep your photos always safe is to create a duplicate copy of your photos and set a frequency based on how often you will add new photos to it.

Lena · Editor
Lena is an editor of FoneTool, she covers backup & restore, and phone data management and so on. She enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She takes most of time with her family when she is not working.