[Free] How to Recover Photos from Formatted SD Card

Recovering photos from formatted SD card may be urgent for those who have lost their previous memories Don't worry, this post will show you effective ways to recover lost files from SD memory cards, including Windows and Mac.


By Kelsey / Updated on May 29, 2024

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More and more scenarios will use SD cards in our lives or work, and we will store a lot of valuable files in SD cards, such as photos. However, many users may accidentally delete photos from SD cards, or worse, format SD cards, which makes recovering photos from formatted SD cards an urgent problem.

Although losing photos from SD card can be frustrating, take it easy, we still have a chance to retrieve these lost photos. Here we will provide some effective ways to show you how to recover photos from formatted SD card.

Can photos be recovered after formatting the SD memory card?

Yes, it is possible to recover photos from formatted SD card.

When an SD memory card is formatted, it does not actually erase all data immediately. The formatting process simply initializes the memory card's file system to a new state so that the files are no longer visible. However, the original data still exists on the memory card, it is just marked as space that can be overwritten. Therefore, after an SD card is formatted, if no new data is written to the memory card, then the original photo data may still be recoverable.

Sd Card


SD card format recovery solutions also are available to recover data from formatted hard drives, USB flash drives, cameras, and more.

What does format mean on an SD card?

There are many reasons why an SD card may be formatted. Usually, the most common cause is the user operation error. Users may accidentally delete important files, photos, videos, or other data, or format the SD card incorrectly, resulting in data loss.

In addition, some of the common reasons why an SD card shows up as formatted include:

✦ Device malfunction. The SD card itself may have malfunctions or problems, such as a damaged memory chip, a faulty read/write head, etc. These malfunctions may cause data to be unreadable. These malfunctions may result in unreadable or lost data.

✦ Virus infection. If the SD card is infected with a virus, the virus may damage or tamper with the data stored on it, resulting in inaccessible or lost data.

✦ Accidental power loss or disconnection. If the device suddenly loses power or the SD card is accidentally unplugged while data is being transferred, it may result in incomplete or corrupted data writing, requiring data recovery.

✦ Software error or system crash. A software error or system crash on your device may cause data on the SD card to be lost or inaccessible.

However, regardless of the reason, deletion does not mean that your files are completely gone. Next, we will perform format SD card recovery in 3 ways.

How to recover photos from formatted SD card with ease

How to recover deleted photos from formatted SD card? Many people recommend using the attrib command to recover files, but it only works if the data is hidden and not formatted. Similarly, the chkdsk command is used to check and fix the file system for logical errors, but not for formatted recovery.

▶ Option 1. Recover pictures from formatted SD card with MyRecover

MyRecover can be a professional formatted SD card recovery software with excellent recovery algorithms in photo recovery. In addition to recovering formatted SD card photos, it can also retrieve files on SD cards that have disappeared due to accidental deletion, virus invasion, or partition loss.

Please refer to the following steps to see how to recover photos from micro SD card or SD card after format using this recovery software. 

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 clickScan.

Select Formatted External Hard Drive To Scan

Step 2. Select the photos.

It will automatically enableQuick Scan&Deep Scanmethod 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.

Scanning External Hard Drive

🌟Tips: At this time, you can enable the Filter feature on the top right corner to locate specific recoverable file types and file sizes. Also, you could search for files and folders in the Search box for recovery directly.
  • Name: Enter the relevant filename of your desired files to quickly locate them.
  • Date modified: Set the date (today, yesterday, last 7/30 days, etc.)
  • Size: Set file size (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~512MB, etc.)

Step 3. Recover target photos.

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

Select Files To Recover From External Hard Drive

You can choose to restore deleted pictures to original or new location. To prevent overwriting, a 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.
Powerful Photo Recovery Software
  • Provide 2 advanced scanning methods Quick Scan and Deep Scan.
  • Support 200+ types of Windows data recovery, including 42 types of images.
  • Multiple recovery modes- format recovery, deleted file recovery, lost partition recovery, system crash recovery, and so on.
  • Support lots of storage devices- Aside from SD card recovery, it also supports data recovery from USB, local disk, external hard disk, HDD, SSD, etc.
  • Widely compatible system- NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems in Windows 11/10/8/7 & Windows Server.
  • You can filter, search, and preview deleted files during the recovery process.

▶ Option 2. Recover photos from formatted SD card on 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 PhotoRecon your Mac. Then, launch it with Terminal. It requires you to enter the Mac password.

Type Password

Step 2. Select the SD cardwhere you want to recover deleted photos. Then, pressEnter.

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 Cto recover deleted photos from memory card on Mac.

Select Location

▶ Option 3. Recover photos from formatted SD card with Windows File Recovery

Windows File Recovery is an official program from Microsoft that can be used to recover files from formatted or damaged disks. It doesn't have a graphical interface - it runs via the command line. Additionally, this tool requires that you have Windows 10 version 2004 or newer systems installed.

To recover pictures from formatted SD card with Windows File Recovery, you need to first get and download it from Microsoft Store on your computer. Then, you should remember that the basic command format is winfr source-drive: destination-folder [/mode] [/switches]. Now, you can follow the guide on how to recover formatted SD card from camera below:

Microsoft Store Get

Step 1. Check the file system of your SD card by opening the This PC app > right-clicking the SD card drive > selecting Properties.

Check File System

Step 2. Choose which recovery mode you should use.

Wfr Mode

Step 3. Select suitable parameters for your formatted picture recovery.

Switches Meaning Supported mode(s)
/n To filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc. All
/y: Recovers system files.



/u Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin.



Step 4. Search for “Windows File Recovery” in the Windows Search bar and run it.

Step 5. Type the specific command line and click Enter. For example, if you need to recover pdf files from D: drive to E: drive an NTFS hard drive, your command line should be like winfr D: E: /regular /n *.pdf.

Winfr Regular Pdf

If the Windows File Recovery is stuck at 99%, there may be some issues with your command line or you don't have enough storage space on the destination drive.

▶ Option 4. Recover formatted SD card photos from Windows backup

If you want to recover photos from formatted SD card free without the help of recovery software, using a Windows backup is the best option. With backup files, you can recover permanently deleted photos effortlessly.

But, you need to make sure that you have applied the Windows Backup and Restore tool to backup your formatted photos in advance. If so, you can learn how to recover deleted photos from formatted SD card with a backup file from the tutorial beneath.

Step 1. Open Control Panel, click System and Security, and pick Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Windows Backup And Restore

Step 2. Tap on Restore my files.

Windows Backup Restore My Files

Step 3. Click Browse for files to locate the photos you desire to get back, and hit Next.

Browse For Files To Restore

Step 4. Select a location to restore files and press the Restore button.

Since formatted data will disappear directly from the hard drive instead of being removed to the Recycle Bin or elsewhere, recovery methods that do not rely on software may not work on formatted data.

Tips to protect SD cards away from formating

To prevent your SD card from becoming formatted and save yourself the hassle of data recovery and reformatting, consider these essential precautions:

📌 Safe Removal: Never abruptly pull out your SD card from any device. 

📌 Battery Maintenance: Ensure that the device using your SD card, such as your camera, has a fully charged battery.

📌 Cautious Formatting: Do not agree to format your SD card if prompted by a device, especially if the card functions correctly in another device, like your PC.

📌 Security Measures: On your PC, employ antivirus and firewall applications to protect against malicious software and unauthorized users.

📌 Environmental Protection: Shield your SD card from environmental factors like heat, dust, and water.

📌 Carrying Cases: Use protective carrying cases for your SD card and avoid storing it in your pocket with keys, coins, or other items that could cause scratches, chips, or bending.

📌 Regular Assessment: Keep an eye on your SD card's condition. If you notice visible wear, if it's been in use for many years, or if it has previously appeared as formatted or in RAW format, it's likely time to replace it to ensure data integrity and reliability.


No matter what the reason for SD card formatting is, picture recovery is something that needs to be done as soon as possible. We have listed 3 useful methods you can use to recover photos from formatted SD card. You can choose the one that's right for you. If you want to get your photos back quickly, you can try the most efficient data recovery software MyRecover directly to save much time and effort.


Can you recover photos from SD card after formatting?
Fortunately, data recovery software offers a chance to retrieve lost data. Free programs such as MyRecover is reputable and effective choices to begin your recovery process.
Are pictures permanently deleted from SD card?
Pictures are not necessarily permanently deleted from an SD card. In many cases, photos remain recoverable until they are overwritten by new data. Even after formatting the card or when it appears empty, these images can still be hidden on the memory card.
Can you recover formatted SD card Android?
If you accidentally format your Android SD card, there is still a chance to recover your data using specialized SD card recovery software for Android. This is possible as long as the old files have not been overwritten by new data. SD card recovery software can scan the card and attempt to retrieve the previously deleted files, increasing your chances of getting your data back, even after a formatting mistake.
Kelsey · Editor
Kelsey is an English editor of AOMEI Technology. She is passionate about helping people find effective ways to deal with all problems in computer. She has great insights into data backup and recovery, disk partition and clone, and other data protection measures. She likes learn computer skills to improve herself and enjoy quality time with family and friends.