Free Photo Recovery Software

Top 10 Best Photo Recovery Software For Lost Pictures and Images

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Written by Robert Agar Robert Agar Staff Writer • 49 articles Robert Agar, a staff writer at Handy Recovery, specializes in data recovery and data management topics, with a particular affinity for macOS and iOS. He played a key role in the founding of our team and project back in 2017, and is notably responsible for authoring much of the initial content that graced our website. Robert brings over 30 years of experience in data storage, security, compliance, backup, and recovery to the Handy Recovery team. LinkedIn Edited by Jordan Jamieson-Mane Jordan Jamieson-Mane Staff Writer • 41 articles Jordan Jamieson-Mane is a staff content writer for Handy Recovery with a keen interest in data recovery and troubleshooting common issues on Windows OS. Jordan joined the team in 2021, initially as a contributing writer, and quickly established himself as a proficient expert in technical content and website collaboration. LinkedIn Approved by Andrey Vasilyev Andrey Vasilyev Editor Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team. LinkedIn

At some point, many computer users will need to utilize photo recovery software. It's very easy to accidentally delete the wrong file or folder, and you may need to employ picture recovery techniques to reclaim lost memories that are irreplaceable, such as wedding photos, baby’s first steps, milestone birthday celebrations, or cherished family gatherings.

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There are many paid and free photo recovery software solutions that can help you recover from an unexpected data loss scenario. We are going to take a look at ten tools that are available and give you some information to make an informed decision on which one is right for you.

Which Parameters Did We Prioritize When Evaluating Software?

We focused on the parameters that are most important when using image recovery software:

⚡ Recovery rate

Recovery rate is the parameter we prioritized the most. It determines the overall effectiveness of each recovery tool in recovering lost or deleted photos from different file systems and data loss scenarios. As part of this, we also look at what scan modes are offered and their efficiency in recovering large amounts of data.

📁 Supported file formats

We prioritized software that supports a large number of photo file formats. Beyond the common photo formats like JPEG, PNG, and GIF, we looked at software that also specialized in recovering RAW formats used by professional photographers. Software that supports a wide range of photo formats gives you a higher chance of recovery, especially when your file system is no longer usable.

🔍 Preview functionality

To avoid recovering corrupted or otherwise useless data, we focused on recommending recovery solutions that include a preview function. Being able to preview your photos before recovery gives you a chance to confirm if they can be recovered, saving you time and storage space. It also proves the software is capable of recovering the files.

👍 Ease of use

In an effort to make sure all recovery solutions we present are usable for all users, we were sure to focus on software that’s easy to use and features a clean user interface that’s intuitive and includes clear, straightforward recovery steps.

💾 Compatibility with storage devices

The hard drive, SD card, USB flash drive, or camera you use for storage could use any type of file system, so we gave special attention to software that worked with various file systems for increased versatility.

Before we delve into our comprehensive ranking, let's quickly review the top picks for photo recovery software. Don't forget, you can also participate by casting your vote using the voting feature below.

Top 10 Best Photo Recovery Software

For this list of the best photo recovery software, we only included recovery tools that were able to deliver fast, cost-effective results. It’s important to note that this list does not go from best to worst. Rather, each tool excels in satisfying different needs, so the final decision rests on you and your specific requirements. Let’s take a look.

1. Disk Drill (Windows & Mac)

Disk Drill user interface.

Disk Drill is a flexible and reliable photo recovery application that offers users a free trial with up to 500 MB of free recovery (Windows only). The application sports a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for anyone to recover their lost photos.

Download Disk Drill

Key Features:

  • Advanced scanning algorithms that recognize over 100 photo file formats (and over 400 others in total)
  • An intuitive user interface with convenient, image-by-image previews
  • Advanced filters and sorting features to isolate photos from other data
  • Support for virtually all types of disk-based storage devices

User Experience

Disk Drill is an excellent choice to recover deleted images on Windows or Mac platforms. The user-intuitive interface makes it super easy to scan, select, and recover your photos in just a few clicks. It utilizes several comprehensive scanning modes to ensure you recover as many photos as possible. The free version allows you to scan and preview your data, and Windows users have the added benefit of recovering up to 500 MB before needing to upgrade.

Restrictions on the free version: 500 MB free recovery for Windows, Free preview of recoverable data for macOS.

Last update: Disk Drill for Windows is currently on version 5.3.826, which was released on July 13, 2023. Disk Drill for macOS is currently on version 5.4.1425, which was released on December 22, 2023.

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There’s more useful info about Disk Drill in our detailed review.

2. Recuva (Windows)

Recuva

Recuva is available to Windows users as a simple photo recovery tool that can be used to restore lost images on a variety of storage devices including CDs and DVDs.

Download Recuva

Key Features:

  • Recover unlimited photos for free
  • Two GUIs for advanced and novice users
  • Limited, but functional preview window
  • Good scanning speed

User Experience

Recuva is a completely free photo recovery tool. While it doesn’t perform at the same level as professional recovery solutions, it’s a decent option for recovering recently deleted photos without having to open your wallet. It includes a simple but easy-to-use user interface and the ability to recover up to 100 different file types. We would recommend Recuva if you’re a beginner who’s looking for a quick, no-commitment solution that’s easy to get set up quickly.

Restrictions on the free version: No limits on free recovery

Last update: Recuva is currently on version 1.53.2096, which was released on June 13, 2023.

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For more information about Recuva, read our review.

Though Recuva is a very good recovery tool for free, it is very slow and takes quite a lot of time in scanning and recovering the files. Since it is FREE, you can't complain about it being a slow tool. (Neeraj S, g2.com)

3. R-Studio (Windows, Mac, & Linux)

R-Studio user interface.

R-Studio is an advanced photo recovery solution that’s primarily geared towards data recovery professionals and specialists. Despite its learning curve, it offers a range of advanced recovery features that will help you recover plenty of your lost photos.

Download R-Studio

Key Features:

  • Can recover more than 500 file formats
  • Supports all major operating systems and file systems
  • Includes a preview function and recovery chance prediction
  • Rich with many advanced recovery features

User Experience

In terms of recovering lost or deleted photos, R-Studio delivers great recovery results across all of its scan modes. Being an advanced recovery solution, the user interface is quite technical and may take some time to get used to, but the functionality the application offers makes it worth it. One limitation regarding photo recovery is the preview feature. It’s sluggish and doesn’t support a wide range of file formats, like RAW photos, for example. We would recommend R-Studio for those with a technical background that can benefit from the advanced features it has to offer.

Restrictions on the free version: Limited to recovering files smaller than 256 KB.

Last update: R-Studio is currently on version 9.3.191259, which was released on November 21, 2023.

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Learn more about the software in our extensive R-Studio review.

4. Wondershare Recoverit (Windows & Mac)

Recoverit by Wondershare

Recoverit is a paid photo recovery solution with versions available for Windows and Mac systems. It has several different licensing levels and offers a 7-day money-back guarantee. The tool supports many devices and file types for advanced recovery capability.

Download Recoverit

Key Features:

  • Supports over 1000 file formats
  • Deep scanning capability to find long lost photos
  • Recoverable file preview
  • Modern user interface

User Experience

Recoverit is a good photo recovery solution that offers a user-friendly method of restoring lost data. For any photos that it cannot recover using the file system, it can instead use its very capable signature scanner that supports over 1000 file formats (although we found the more accurate number of supported file formats to be much lower). The freeware version is very limited, forcing users to purchase the product to verify its usefulness in their situation.

Restrictions on the free version: 100MB free recovery for Windows, free preview for Mac.

Last update: Wondershare Recoverit is currently on version 12.0.0, which was released May 11, 2023.

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Our Recoverit by Wondershare review can be found here.

5. DMDE (Windows, Mac, & Linux)

DMDE (DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software) is an advanced photo recovery solution that allows you to quickly recover your lost or deleted photos from a wide range of data loss situations.

DMDE user interface.

Download DMDE

Key Features:

  • Works with most operating systems and file systems
  • Very fast scanning and recovery
  • Can learn unfamiliar file signatures
  • Includes additional file system utilities

User Experience

During our tests, DMDE did an excellent job of recovering our data, especially photos. Its versatility in working with different operating systems and file systems makes it an invaluable part of any recovery toolkit. The user interface prioritizes functionality over aesthetics, as it’s a recovery solution intended for experts. One shortcoming is its limited preview function, which only supports a very small number of photo file formats.

Restrictions on the free version: Recover all files from the current panel (limited to 4000 at a time).

Last update: DMDE is currently on version 4.0.6.806, which was released on April 6, 2023.

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Learn more valuable insights about the program in our full DMDE review.

6. DiskGenius (Windows)

DiskGenius is a data recovery and disk management tool. Despite its busy user interface, it’s a very powerful data recovery tool with the demonstrated ability to recover your deleted photos with great efficiency.

DiskGenius user interface.

Download DiskGenius

Key Features:

  • Good ability to recover various photo file types
  • Allows you to select which file types to search for
  • Many additional free features
  • Can back up the partition table of your photo storage device

User Experience

The results of our recovery tests with DiskGenius were very promising. It was able to recover a lot of our data, both by file system and file signature. As it doubles as a disk management tool, you get more functionality out of the program that’s useful if you’re regularly updating partitions to your data organized. However, the user interface is quite cluttered and does require some time to get familiar with.

Restrictions on the free version: Only files smaller than 64 KB can be recovered.

Last update: DiskGenius is currently on version 5.5.1.1508, which was released on March 8, 2023.

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We go even more in-depth in our DiskGenius review.

7. Data Rescue (Windows & Mac)

Data Rescue 6

Data Rescue 6 is a professional-grade photo recovery tool that has some excellent features as well as some functionality issues and restrictions on its standard version.

Download Data Rescue

Key Features:

  • Supports many filetypes
  • Duplicate file recognition
  • Recovery file preview
  • Time Machine compatibility

User Experience

Data Rescue 6 is an expensive solution for users who intend to use it often. The standard version only allows you to perform 5 scans, forcing many users to opt for the pro version which is quite expensive. Scanning can’t be paused or resumed and is slow compared to other data recovery tools.

Restrictions on the free version: Limited to recoverable file preview

Last update: Data Rescue is currently on version 6.0.8, which was released on July 28, 2023.

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Do you know that we’ve reviewed Data Rescue?

8. MiniTool Power Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)

MiniTool

Minitool is a paid image recovery application that offers users a free trial version of the software. It supports disk-based storage devices as well as CDs and DVDs.

Download MiniTool

Key Features:

  • A bootable version is available
  • Fast scanning speed
  • Can scan damaged DVDs and CDs

User Experience

This tool lacks reliable file preview support and has a tendency to crash while restoring large files. It does offer the ability to recover from DVDs or CDs which may be attractive to some users.

Restrictions on the free version: Can recover 1GB with the free version

Last update: MiniTool Power Data Recovery is currently on version 11.7, which was released on October 24, 2023.

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Follow this link to read an exhaustive MiniTool Power Data Recovery review.

9. PhotoRec (Windows, Mac, & Linux)

PhotoRec is a free, open-source recovery tool. Despite its name, it can recover more than just photos. Unlike other recovery solutions that use a mixture of scanning methods, PhotoRec confidently relies on its ability to recover data by file signature alone.

PhotoRec user interface.

Download PhotoRec

Key Features:

  • Excellent recovery results by file signature
  • Hand-pick which file formats to look for
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Includes a very minimal GUI

User Experience

PhotoRec was designed to be run through a Command Line Interface (CLI), only later receiving an optional Graphical User Interface (GUI) to make it easier to use for newcomers. Seeing as its strength is recovery by file signature, PhotoRec supports close to 480 file signatures. In our tests, it did an excellent job at recovering all types of files, but it had the most success with photos. PhotoRec is ideal if you’re looking for a free solution that’s also very capable.

Restrictions on the free version: None

Last update: The latest stable version of PhotoRec is 7.1, which was released on July 7, 2019. However, the 7.2 beta is also available.

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If you’re interested in learning more, see our full PhotoRec review.

10. Stellar Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)

Stellar Data Recovery is a promising photo recovery tool with an attractive user interface that offers up to 1 GB of free recovery before you need to upgrade.

Stellar Data Recovery user interface.

Download Stellar Data Recovery

Key Features:

  • Built-in photo repair functionality
  • Excellent customer support
  • Preview corrupted data in safe mode
  • Can learn new file signatures

User Experience

One feature that makes Stellar Data Recovery stand out from others is its photo repair function, which allows you to restore corrupted photos following recovery. The program also has a dedicated support team behind it who are willing to remotely access your computer if you run into issues. The application supports up to 300 file signatures out-of-the-box, but it can also learn new ones if you upload a sample file. In our experience, we found that the program occasionally crashed while scanning, which may be a point of frustration for some if it happens regularly.

Restrictions on the free version: 1 GB of free recovery.

Last update: Stellar Photo for Windows is currently on version 11.8.0.2, which was released in November 2023. Stellar Data Recovery for Mac is currently on version 11.8.0.0, which was released in June 2023.

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Our Stellar Data Recovery review goes into more detail.

Honorable Mentions

Here are some additional tools that didn’t quite make the cut for our main list but still have some considerable recovery qualities.

1. TestDisk

TestDisk is an open-source recovery tool that’s packaged alongside PhotoRec. It differs from PhotoRec in the fact that it focuses on recovering entire partitions rather than individual files. Although it is very useful in specific data loss situations, it didn’t make the list this time because it uses a complicated CLI which doesn’t give you a chance to preview your data before recovery, which we deemed very important for recovering photos.

2. DiskDigger

DiskDigger is available for Windows, Linux, and Android devices. Even though it does have the ability to recover lost or deleted photos, the program is quite barebones and doesn’t offer much in the way of functionality. Therefore, we didn’t think it was comprehensive enough to make the list.

3. EaseUS

EaseUS is one of the most prominent data recovery tools on the web, due in large part to its very effective marketing. The software itself has many notable qualities, especially when it comes to data recovery. However, it’s quite costly and filled with intrusive pop-ups that are constantly trying to upsell you, which is why we didn’t include it.

Photo Recovery Software Picker

Free Photo Recovery Software Picker
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Do you need to recover lost photos but are not sure which photo recovery software to use? The form below is here to help you make the best choice possible based on your specific data loss situation. Please answer all questions as accurately as you can. Once you're done, click the View results button to see our recommendation/s.

On which device were the lost photos located? *
Which operating system do you use? *
Are you interested in paid data recovery software? *
Paid data recovery software typically offers better performance and more features than free data recovery software.
Do you need to recover raw image files? *
Do you consider yourself to be an advanced user? *
Are your lost photos stored on a physically damaged storage device? *
Please make sure to answer all questions before clicking this button.
We recommend:
Disk Drill logo
Disk Drill Photo Recovery for Windows stands out with its support for a huge number of photo file formats, including raw file formats. Its intuitive user interface makes it possible to recover lost photos with a few clicks, and the free version can preview an unlimited number of photos and recover up to 500 MB of data.
Disk Drill logo
Disk Drill Photo Recovery for macOS is the best data recovery software available to Mac users. By combining an intuitive data recovery process with powerful algorithms, it can reliably recover most photo file formats from all commonly used storage devices. The free version can preview an unlimited number of photos, and it comes with useful extra tools.
PhotoRec logo
As its name suggests, the main purpose of PhotoRec is to recover lost photos, and this open source and completely free application for Windows, macOS, and Linux is great at what it does. Its biggest downside is the text-based user interface, which makes it more intimidating than it would be otherwise.
Recuva logo
Recuva is a great choice for Windows users who want to recover a handful of photos saved in commonly used image file formats, like JPG and PNG. The photo recovery software can restore an unlimited amount of data for free, and its straightforward user interface makes it suitable even for Windows users who are not confident in their IT skills.
Professional Data Decovery Services
We don't recommend you attempt to recover lost photos from a physically damaged storage device because you could make the situation even worse. Instead, you should send the storage device to a professional data recovery center.
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Unfortunately, we were not able to find any solution matching your data loss situation.

Possible solution: If you're attempting to recover photos that were stored on a microSD card, then you can recover the card and recover it using popular Windows photo recovery software like Disk Drill. If the lost photos were stored in internal storage, then your best option is to obtain access to a Mac and use Disk Drill for macOS, which can recover lost data from both Android and iOS devices.
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Unfortunately, we were not able to find any solution matching your data loss situation.

Possible solution: If you can obtain access to a Windows PC or Mac, then we recommend you recover your lost photos using Disk Drill for Windows or Disk Drill for Mac.

Revealing Market Trends: The Most-Searched Software to Recover Deleted Photos

We've curated insightful statistics that highlight the market distribution of software to recover deleted photos. This chart depicts the average monthly search volume for each brand, revealing consumer interest and brand popularity, from Recuva at the peak to lesser-known tools. Software to Recover Deleted Photos

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The data presented here is drawn from Google Ads, indicating the global average number of monthly searches. Brands with multiple name variations have been consolidated (e.g., Recoverit and Wondershare Recoverit). Note that the search popularity may not directly indicate quality, and some brands like Stellar Data Recovery may have restrictions on similar data in Google Ads.

Conclusion

As you can see from our review, free picture recovery software can sometimes get the job done. Free recovery software is either limited by functionality in the case of true freeware or in the amount of data trial versions allow you to recover.

In cases where a small amount of data has been lost, the free trial version of software like Disk Drill is all you need to get your data back. When larger amounts of data need to be recovered, you may be impacted by the limitations of free solutions and be better served by purchasing a paid license.

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Did You Know?

You can often perform successful image recovery long after the files were deleted from your hard drive. This is because modern operating systems simply remove logical access when deleting a file. The photos still physically exist on a storage device until they are overwritten by new data. Data recovery software scans the storage device and recreates the logical links necessary to access the lost photos. Minimizing the use of the drive after file deletion increases the chance of a successful recovery.

FAQ

To recover permanently deleted photos from an SD card, you need to scan it using one of the free photo recovery software applications described in this article. Most such applications, regardless of whether they have a graphical or command-line user interface, require you to go through similar steps:

  1. Select your SD card.
  2. Wait for the application to find all recoverable photos.
  3. Select the photos you want to recover and move them to a safe location.

Recovering deleted pictures from a USB drive is just as easy as recovering them from an internal hard drive, PC or memory card, especially if you choose a photo recovery software application with an easy-to-use graphical user interface. Here's a quick summary of what it typically takes to recover pictures from a USB drive:

  1. Connect the USB drive to your computer.
  2. Scan it using your photo recovery software of choice.
  3. Tell the software to move your photos to a safe location.

After testing countless free photo recovery software tools, we discovered that Disk Drill is the best freeware photo recovery software solution because its advanced scanning capabilities set it ahead of the competition, while its modern user interface makes it accessible even to complete beginners. Other great photo recovery software tools include Recuva, PhotoRec, and Undelete 360 Photo Recovery.

There are a lot of great options you can choose from, and we like the following ones the most:

  • Best overall: Disk Drill
  • Best open-source: PhotoRec
  • Best free: Recuva

Lost photos can be recovered from Android devices in several different ways, and there's a chance that you won't be able to try them all—it all depends on where on your device the photos were stored, whether the device is rooted or not, and if you have access to a computer. Once you know the answers to these questions, then you will be able to choose from our lists of the best Android data recovery software and the best SD card recovery apps for Android.

About article
Staff Writer Robert Agar

This article was written by Robert Agar, a Staff Writer at Handy Recovery. It was recently updated by Jordan Jamieson-Mane. It was also verified for technical accuracy by Andrey Vasilyev, our editorial advisor.

Curious about our content creation process? Take a look at our Editor Guidelines.

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