Top 15 Best SD Card Recovery Software in 2020

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Free SD Card Recovery Software

A simple online search can instantly reveal countless free SD card recovery software tools. What it doesn’t reveal, however, is which of the available solutions can actually do what they promise to do: recover all deleted files from an SD card.  

To give you a comprehensive answer, we tested 15 popular SD card recovery software tools, listing their key features and evaluating their data recovery capabilities to determine which of them can do what they promise to do.

Wanted: Best SD Card Recovery Software

help iconAll over the web, people are desperate to find out what’s the best SD card recovery software because they accidentally deleted important files:

  • “I accidentally deleted an important video over the weekend and need to retrieve it as soon as possible. Data recovery services are charging $150-$200 to recover data. I think that would be a waste when some programs cost less. I just want to make sure I use the best program to recover this footage safe and sound. There are so many programs out there.” (Reddit)
  • “Is there a free, fast way to recover the contents of an SD card? I have an SD card that originally belonged to a camera, with videos and photos on it. Recently, the camera no longer can take pictures, and the SD card looks like this on a computer.” (Stack Overflow)
  • “I accidentally deleted a video from my memory card, and I understand that there is software to help recover files. What actually works?” (CNET)

Usually, the answers to these and other similar questions are based on personal experience with just one SD card recovery software application, which may or may not be the best solution available. To give you a more comprehensive answer, we personally evaluated 15 different applications, and this article is the result of our research. 

Quick Summary

Here’s a quick recap of our findings:

  • Disk Drill (Best Overall): After testing 15 different SD card recovery software tools, it was clear to us that Disk Drill is the best solution for Windows and Mac users thanks to its excellent performance and outstanding ease of use.  
  • PhotoRec (Best Free): If you don’t want to spend any money to recover your data, PhotoRec is your best bet. This open source recovery software may not be very beginner-friendly, but its ability to undelete files from SD cards of all sizes can’t be questioned. 
  • R-Studio (Best Professional): With its built-in hex editor and the ability to perform remote data recovery, R-Studio is the best SD card recovery software for data recovery professionals who need comprehensive information about all recoverable files. 

To learn more information about these and other SD card recovery software applications, continue reading this article. 

What Is Data Recovery Software and What Can I Do with It?

file formats

Data recovery software applications are able to locate permanently deleted files on an SD card or some other storage device and undelete them. Such applications are used by home users and data recovery professionals alike to recover lost photos, videos, documents, audio, and other types of files. 

It’s important to point out that even the best data recovery software can’t recover deleted files that have been overwritten. Unfortunately, you can’t really tell that a deleted file has been overwritten before you perform data recovery. The best thing you can do is minimize the chance of it happening by beginning the data recovery process as soon as possible and avoiding writing new data to the SD card. 

What You Should Pay Attention to When Choosing SD Card Recovery Software

SD card recovery software tools can appear to be remarkably similar when looking at them from a distance. It’s only when you spend some time with them that you begin to notice the differences. This is what we pay attention to when evaluating SD card recovery software:  

  1. Performance: How long does the recovery take? How many file formats does the recovery tool support? How does it handle corrupted and damaged files? These are just some questions we ask ourselves to determine how well an SD card recovery software tool performs. Data recovery is a time-sensitive process, so you always want to select a recovery tool that can get the job done on the first go.
  2. Usability: Some SD card recovery software tools are designed to be as intuitive as possible, and some assume a certain amount of background knowledge. If you’re a regular home user and hope that you won’t ever again need to recover data from a memory card, you should select an SD card recovery software tool that’s self-explanatory and doesn’t force you to read a lengthy manual.
  3. Features: Free SD card data recovery software tools don’t typically come with a whole lot of extra features, but exceptions do exist. In most cases, additional features can be unlocked with a purchase of a license or paid subscription.
  4. Support: While we strongly believe that SD card recovery software should be self-explanatory, we also acknowledge that not all data recovery scenarios are created equal. There’s always a chance that you’ll encounter a memory card recovery free software can’t deal with, and that’s when helpful customer support staff can make a real difference.
  5. Price: Just because a software tool advertises SD data recovery free of charge doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get all your data back without paying. Some tools only let you preview deleted or lost files—not actually recover them. And many of the tools that do let you recover your files for free impose limits on the number or size of files.

Now that you know what you should pay attention to when choosing SD card recovery software, it’s time to take a closer look at the best paid and free SD card recovery tools available in 2020. 

Top Paid SD Card Recovery Tools

1. Disk Drill SD Card Recovery

It’s not easy for a free SD card recovery software tool to strike the right balance between ease of use and data recovery capabilities. There are many recovery tools that are so easy to use that a child could figure them out without any help, but they often deliver subpar results. There are also many recovery tools that work remarkably well but are so complicated that even professionals are intimidated by them.

Disk Drill combines ease of use with powerful data recovery algorithms to satisfy the needs of professional and home users alike. This platform-independent solution supports all common storage devices, file systems, and file formats. The free version can recover up to 500 MB of data, and it comes with several extra features that you would be hard-pressed to find even in paid SD card recovery software tools.

One such extra feature is called Recovery Vault, and its purpose is to provide an added level of protection for all your sensitive and important locations. Disk Drill can also create byte-to-byte backups of failing storage devices. Data recovery experts recommend creating a byte-to-byte backup before recovery so that you don’t lose your files in case the storage device dies in the middle of the recovery process.

 

Key Features:

  • Professional data recovery made simple.
  • Can preview all recovery methods.
  • Multiple scan options.
  • Lets you save and resume recovery.
  • Includes several extra features.

Is it Free? Disk Drill can recover data of up to 500 MB for free.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to use
  • Excellent data recovery results 
  • Bundled with useful disk utilities 
  • The Windows version can recover 500 MB for free.
  • Bootable Mac recovery 
  • Doesn’t support Linux

Verdict

There are many things that make Disk Drill the best free SD card data recovery software solution for Windows, including its user-friendly approach to data recovery and the ability to deliver professional results. The free version of Disk Drill is truly free and comes with multiple extra features whose value far exceeds the price of Disk Drill PRO.

2. R-Studio

With R-Studio, it’s possible to rescue files that don’t appear to be recoverable anymore. This free SD card recovery software solution features support for NTFS, NTFS5, ReFS, FAT12/16/32, exFAT, HFS/HFS+ and APFS (Macintosh), Little and Big Endian variants of UFS1/UFS2 (FreeBSD/OpenBSD/NetBSD/Solaris) and Ext2/Ext3/Ext4 FS (Linux) partitions and all storage devices, including SD cards.

The user interface of R-Studio resembles Windows Explorer, making it feel instantly familiar. You can open multiple tabs within the same window to locate a missing file on multiple SD cards without the need to constantly switch between sessions.

Being a professional-grade data recovery solution, R-Studio comes with a hex editor with support for NTFS file attribute editing. The Technician version includes even more extra features, but it comes with an eye-popping price tag of $899.99.

Key Features:

  • Support many different file formats.
  • Familiar user interface.
  • Recovery over network.

Is it Free? The free version of R-Studio can’t recover files larger than 256 KB.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pros

Cons

  • Advanced features
  • Recovery over network
  • Built-in hex editor 
  • Geared toward professionals 
  • A separate license is required for each platform 

Verdict

R-Studio is a true professional solution, but we can debate whether it’s really free because you can’t use it to recover files larger than 256 KB without paying, which rules out virtually all pictures, videos, and most documents.  

3. Acronis Revive

Acronis Revive is a straightforward SD card recovery tool that costs $49.99. On its website, you can download a free demo that lets you find a deleted file and assess its chance of recovery. Unfortunately, the demo version doesn’t let you recover the file.

To justify the need to purchase a license, Acronis Revive advertises features such as the ability to a disk image during recovery, visual indication of scanning progress, recovery logs, multiple scan modes, and support for numerous file types. We’re not sure whether all of these features are worth paying for (the visual indication of scanning progress stands out the most), but at least Acronis isn’t asking too much money for them.

As far as the recovery process itself goes, Acronis Revive makes it painless and quick, guiding you through the entire process from start to finish.

Key Features:

  • Can preview photos and videos before recovery.
  • Visually displays scanning progress.
  • Offers multiple scan modes.

Is it Free? The free version of Acronis Revive can’t save recovered files.

Supported Platforms: Windows 

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable price
  • Demo version available 
  • Three-step data recovery process
  • Works only on Windows 

Verdict

If only Acronis Review offered the ability to recover deleted files from SD cards for free, it could be one of the best SD card data recovery solutions. Alas, it doesn’t, and even its intuitive wizard-style interface isn’t enough to earn it a higher place on this list.

4. Recover My Files

Even though Recover My Files doesn’t leave the same positive first impression as the leading free SD card data recovery software solutions featured in this article, its great data recovery capabilities demonstrate that it’s never a good idea to judge a book by its cover.  

Compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10, Recover My Files can recover data from memory cards, hard drives, USB flash drives, floppy disks, and other media. It can deal with complicated data loss scenarios, such as a partitioning error or computer crash.

You can download Recover My Files for free and use it to preview your files, but you won’t be able to actually recover them without paying at least $69.95 for a license. Because of this limitation alone, we can’t rank it any higher.

Key Features:

  • Recovers files from accidentally formatted SD cards.
  • Built-in hex editor.
  • Tested by the Department of Homeland Security.

Is it Free? The free version of Recover My Files can’t save recovered files.

Supported Platforms: Windows 

Pros

Cons

  • Can preview files on the fly 
  • Tested by the Department of Homeland Security
  • Works only on Windows
  • Outdated user interface  

Verdict

Unfortunately, the free version of Recover My Files is just a tease that doesn’t let you recover your files—you can only preview them. Considering how many free SD card data recovery software tools there are, it’s difficult to justify spending $69.95 on the cheapest Recovery My Files license.

5. Remo Recover

Remo Recover presents itself as a complete recovery and file repair solution with support for memory cards, hard drives, external storage devices, and any other storage media. It features a four-step approach to data recovery (select the device to recover, scan for lost data, preview recovered data, and save the recovered data) and an intuitive user interface.

You can use Remo Recover to get back as much as 1 GB of data for free, but you need to upgrade to one of the three available paid editions to recover more data than that. The only paid edition of Remo Recover that makes sense is Remo Recover Pro because it supports the most file formats and comes with premium customer support.

Regardless of which edition you select, you can always take advantage of Remo’s 30-day money-back guarantee and ask for a refund if the software fails to live up to your expectations.

Key Features:

  • Four-step approach to data recovery.
  • Intuitive user interface.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

Is it Free? Remo Recover can recover data of up to 1 GB for free.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac

Pros

Cons

  • Solid performance 
  • Familiar user interface 
  • Doesn’t offer any impressive features 
  • Not widely used 

Verdict

Remo Recover isn’t a recognizable name as far as free SD card recovery software tools go, but you shouldn’t dismiss it just because you haven’t heard of it.

6. Recoverit by Wondershare

Recoverit by Wondershare is a 3-step SD card data recovery software tool with a clean user interface and proven data recovery capabilities. It maintains an excellent average review score of 4.5 on TrustScore, with users praising its recovery speed, customer support, and a money-back guarantee, among other things.

Speaking of Wondershare’s money-back guarantee, it’s nice to have it because the free version can recover only up to 100 MB of data. For unlimited recovery, you need to get one of the three paid subscriptions (Essential, Standard, or Advanced).

As its name suggests, the Essential subscription costs the least amount of money ($45.95 per month per PC or $59.95 per year per PC or $69.95 for a lifetime license), but it lacks some advanced features, such as computer crash recovery or advanced video recovery.

Key Features:

  • Boasts the ability to restore over 1,000 file formats.
  • Offers free remote technical assistance.
  • Paid versions can repair corrupt video files.

Is it Free? Recoverit by Wondershare can recover data of up to 100 MB for free.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac 

Pros

Cons

  • Clean user interface
  • Excellent average review score
  • Money-back guarantee 
  • Too many versions to choose from
  • More affordable versions miss important features 

Verdict

Overall, Recoverit by Wondershare is one of the best software tools of its kind, and we can wholeheartedly recommend it to those who would like to perform SD recovery free of charge and without any hassle.

7. MiniTool Power Data Recovery

There are many different reasons why you might need to recover data from an SD card, from an unfortunate user error caused by a sudden lapse of attention to an OS crash or virus attack. MiniTool Power Data Recovery can solve these and many other data loss cases in a short amount of time and without requiring you to do anything apart from starting the data recovery process.

In addition to SD cards and other memory cards, MiniTool Power Data Recovery supports USB flash drives, HDDs, and SSDs (both internal and external). You can recover hundreds of file formats and preview roughly 70 of them, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, images, CAD files, and Adobe Photoshop projects.

The free version of MiniTool Power Data Recovery can recover up to 1 GB of data, and you can unlock unlimited recovery by purchasing a monthly ($69) or yearly ($89) subscription or a lifetime license ($99). All paid versions of this SD card data recovery software tool include the ability to recover files after a system crash.

Key Features:

  • A lifetime license with free updates available.
  • Can preview roughly 70 file formats before recovery.
  • Includes a bootable media function to recover data after a system crash.

Is it Free? MiniTool Power Data Recovery can recover data of up to 1 GB for free.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac 

Pros

Cons

  • Simple to use
  • Frequently updated 
  • Limited preview feature 
  • Mac users can recovery only 1 MB for free

Verdict

MiniTool Power Data Recovery manages to simplify SD card data recovery to the point where anyone can use it to recover deleted or lost files from an SD card with confidence, which is why it deserves the third place on this list.

8. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a free SD card recovery software tool from the developers of the popular partition manager, EaseUS Partition Master. Just like all software tools from the company, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard puts heavy emphasis on ease of use and general usability. It’s designed to be accessible even to people with limited to no data recovery experience but still deliver professional results.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard has two scanning modes, one that takes a shorter amount of time and one that scours the scanned storage device sector by sector, looking for deeply buried files. Regardless of which of the two scanning modes you select, you can always recover any data that has already shown up—no need to wait for the recovery process to finish.

The free version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can do a lot of the things the paid version can, but it doesn’t include what’s arguably the most unique feature of this SD card data recovery software tool professional one-on-one remote recovery assistance.

Key Features:

  • Recovers data from deleted, hidden, lost or raw partition.
  • Lets you recover data while scanning.
  • The ability to export/import sessions.

Is it Free? EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can recover data of up to 2 GB for free.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac

Pros

Cons

  • Fresh user interface
  • Two scanning modes 
  • Generous free version 
  • Expensive lifetime upgrades
  • Windows and Mac versions require a separate license 

Verdict

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a modern free SD card recovery software solution that can reliably recover deleted and formatted data from different data loss situations.

9. Stellar Data Recovery

The free version of Stellar Data Recovery isn’t nearly as feature-packed as the paid members of the Stellar family, but you can trust it to reliably recover data from any memory card. It can deal with just about every file format, including custom or uncommon file formats.

The user interface of Stellar Data Recovery is intuitive and well thought out. As a user, you always know where to click next, and all available options are explained right within the software. To make the data recovery process as safe as possible, Stellar Data Recovery lets you clone a failing memory card and recover files from its backup.

Stellar Data Recovery is available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and it works on Mac computers and Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7. Even though Windows XP support isn’t advertised, you should be able to use Stellar Data Recovery with the operating system without any major problems.

Key Features:

  • Recovery from formatted file systems.
  • BitLocker data recovery.
  • Recovers any file format, including custom or uncommon file types.

Is it Free? Stellar Data Recovery can recover data of up to 1 GB for free.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac

Pros

Cons

  • Intuitive and reliable 
  • Extra features 
  • Support for encrypted drives 
  • Slow
  • On the expensive side
  • Underwhelming performance 

Verdict

There’s not much to criticize about Stellar Data Recovery. The software does what it says on the tip, and it makes the entire data recovery process simple and approachable.

Best Free Memory Card Recovery Software

1. PhotoRec

Don’t let its name fool you: PhotoRec can recover a lot more besides photos. Its developers claim that the whole list of file formats supported by PhotoRec contains more than 480 file extensions, grouped in approximately 300 file families. Included on the list are all common picture file formats, document file formats, and archive file formats.  

But what really makes it special is the fact that it’s completely free and open source, distributed under GNU General Public License (GPL v2+). Theoretically, you could use PhotoRec’s source code to develop your own version of the software and distribute it under your name.

If all this seems too good to be true, that’s because there’s one important catch: PhotoRec is a command-line free SD card data recovery tool with no graphical user interface. As far as command-line tools go, PhotoRec is relatively easy to use, but it’s still nowhere as usable as other tools on this list.

Key Features:

  • Open source SD card recovery software tool.
  • Uses read-only access for extra safety.
  • Recognizes and recovers many different file formats.

Is it Free? PhotoRec is 100% free and open source.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux 

Pros

Cons

  • Truly multi-platform 
  • Excellent performance 
  • Source code published on GitHub
  • Command-line user interface 

Verdict

For computer-savvy Windows, Mac, and Linux users, PhotoRec is an easy choice because it’s completely free and supports all common file formats. Less experienced users are, however, probably better off using a more-user friendly free SD card recovery software tool.

2. Recuva

Developed by the people behind the PC optimizer CCleaner, Recuva is a lightweight free SD card data recovery software tool designed to make data recovery quick and easy. It can recover all commonly used file formats from memory cards, external hard drives, USB sticks, and other storage devices—even if they are damaged or recently formatted.

There are two versions of Recuva: Free and Professional. The Free version is truly unlimited in the sense that you can use it to recover as many files as you need. However, the Professional version offers a few extra features that might convince you to spend $19.95 on it, namely virtual hard drive support, automatic updates, and premium customer support.

When installing Recuva, pay attention to every option because this free SD card recovery tool is known bundleware that automatically installs CCleaner.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight free SD card data recovery tool.
  • Features an advanced deep scan mode.
  • Has the ability to securely delete files.

Is it Free? Recuva can recover an unlimited amount of data for free.

Supported Platforms: Windows

Pros

Cons

  • Straightforward SD card recovery
  • Truly free and unlimited 
  • Bundleware 

Verdict

If you’re looking for a simple free SD card recovery tool without too many potentially confusing options, don’t hesitate to give Recuva a try. Just keep in mind that the last version was released in 2016, so it’s safe to say that it’s not actively developed anymore.

3. TestDisk

TestDisk is a free SD card recovery tool from the developers of PhotoRec. The two tools are designed to complement each other.

TestDisk can restore a deleted/reformatted partition or extract data with metadata if the filesystem on the SD card is still intact. If the file system isn’t intact, PhotoRec can recover any data on the SD card even if it means that metadata won’t be preserved.  

Just like PhotoRec, TestDisk is a command-line tool with features for novices and experts alike. The official documentation, does a wonderful job of explaining how to use the two tools to achieve the best results when recovering files from SD cards and other storage devices.  

Key Features:

  • Can fix partition tables and recover deleted partitions.
  • Open source SD card recovery software tool.
  • Command-line user interface.

Is it Free? TestDisk is 100% free and open source.

Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pros

Cons

  • Can effectively fix SD card corruption 
  • Multi-platform 
  • Developed by the team behind PhotoRec
  • Documentation is required to use it. 

Verdict

TestDisk demonstrates that compact command-line tools can sometimes be more powerful than their GUI counterparts. If you combine it with PhotoRec, you will be able to recover deleted files from any SD card free of charge and without any limitations.

4. IObit Undelete

Part of IObit’s growing range of software applications, IObit Undelete presents a simple but effective free SD card data recovery solution that doesn’t require installation and can recover all kinds of lost files with only a few clicks.

Unless you have a very slow computer or an extremely large SD card, you can expect the entire recovery process to finish in less than a minute. One reason why IObit Undelete is so fast is that the application is as thorough as some other free SD card recovery software applications on this list.

It also lacks some important features, such as the ability to preview files before recovery. But despite these shortcomings, IObit Undelete is worth the download. After all, it’s completely free.

Key Features:

  • Doesn’t require installation.
  • Quick scanning.
  • Gives each file a recoverability score.

Is it Free? IObit Undelete can recover an unlimited amount of data for free.

Supported Platforms: Windows 

Pros

Cons

  • One-click recovery 
  • Portable software 
  • Can’t preview files before recovery 

Verdict

IObit Undelete is so easy to use that there’s no reason not to give it a try whenever you need to recover deleted files from an SD card. We especially like the fact that it doesn’t require installation but wish that its recovery performance was better.

5. Puran File Recovery

The official website of Puran File Recovery can tell you a lot about this free SD card recovery solution. It can tell you that it was last updated in 2016, and the only thing that was included in the update was support for Windows 10.

It can also tell you that Puran File Recovery supports only FAT12/16/32 and NTFS file systems, which is nothing in comparison with leading free SD card recovery solutions, such as Disk Drill. Puran File Recovery is also behind when it comes to design and general usability. Its user interface is amateurish at best and looks like something from the Windows Vista era.

Fortunately, not everything about Puran File Recovery is bad. For example, its recovery engine does a solid job of combining speed, accuracy, and simplicity. It can intelligently scan a drive byte by byte and detect deleted/lost partitions.   

Key Features:

  • Has a search box with support for wildcards.
  • Preserves path structure during recovery.
  • A portable version available.

Is it Free? Puran File Recovery is free for private and non-commercial use.

Supported Platforms: Windows

Pros

Cons

  • Completely free for private use
  • Has been around for a while 
  • Not actively developed anymore

Verdict

Given its dated user interface, questionable usability, and support for only two file system families, there’s no need to make Puran File Recovery your first choice when it comes to SD card recovery. The only thing this aging free SD card recovery solution has going for it is the fact that it’s free for private and non-commercial use.

6. iCare Recovery

iCare Recovery is a polarizing free SD Card data recovery software tool. On the one hand, you can use it to recover an unlimited amount of data without paying. On the other hand, its data recovery capabilities are very limited, and you shouldn’t expect it to recover permanently deleted files. To do that, you need to download iCare Pro Free, which can recover only up to 1 GB of data (confusing, right?).

The completely free version of iCare Recovery also doesn’t support memory cards with the exFAT file system and doesn’t come with any customer support. While the lack of customer support is understandable, the inability to recover files from exFAT-formatted memory cards could be a deal-breaker for many users.

Another potential deal-breaker is the outdated user interface, whose gray color scheme reminds us of software applications for Windows 98. That said, iCare Recovery is fairly easy to use, so any issues with its user interface can be easily overlooked.

Key Features:

  • Unlimited basic data recovery.
  • More than 600+ file types supported.
  • Supports all memory cards (SD cards, CF cards, XD cards).

Is it Free? iCare Recovery is free, but its recovery capabilities are limited.

Supported Platforms: Windows

Pros

Cons

  • Totally free and unlimited 
  • Misleading features 
  • Ugly design 
  • Limited file system support 

Verdict

Even though iCare Recovery lets you recover an unlimited amount of data for free, it’s really just a preview of iCare Pro Free, which is limited to 1 GB. If all you need is to perform basic data recovery, it will probably be able to get the job done, but we wouldn’t expect anything more than that.  

Bonus: Top 3 SD Card Backup Software in 2020

backup solutions

A capable SD card backup software application can help you protect your files so that you have no need for SD card recovery software in the first place. Here are our top three favorite solutions.  

Duplicati (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Duplicati is a versatile backup software that supports a number of data transfer protocols and online backup services, allowing you to easily back up your SD card to the cloud or your own personal server. The application is configured via a web interface, and it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. To use Duplicati, you don’t have to pay a single dollar because the entire project is open source. 

FreeFileSync (Windows, Mac, Linux)

FreeFileSync is a feature-packed local backup software capable of intelligently determining the differences between a source and a target folder and transferring only new and modified files. As its name suggests, you can download it for free, but some features are available only to users who decide to support the project by donating money. These extra features include parallel file copy, auto-updater, portable installation, and silent installation. 

Arq (Windows, Mac)

Arq is an elegant backup software for Windows and Mac computers. It integrates with many different cloud providers, including Amazon, Backblaze, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, but you can also back up to an SFTP server, external drive, or NAS. Arq has been around since 2009, so its developers had plenty of time to polish it to perfection, and it shows. 

Why Did We Choose This Particular Set of Solutions?

When deciding which SD card recovery software solutions to include in this article, we considered the following criteria: 

  • Popularity: One of our goals was to evaluate all popular SD card recovery software solutions to determine if popularity is a good indicator of quality. 
  • User reviews: We think that there’s nothing more valuable when reviewing data recovery software than actual user experience, which is why we wanted to include all highly rated solutions. 
  • Features: Just because an SD card recovery software application isn’t popular doesn’t mean that it’s not worth considering, especially if it has interesting features. 

After evaluating dozens of SD card recovery software solutions, we were able to narrow them down to just 15, which we then put through their paces in a series of real-life tests.

How Likely Am I to Successfully Recover Deleted Photos from My SD Card? 

The answer to this question depends mainly on how much time has passed since you deleted the files. If you deleted them recently, you should be able to recover them without much trouble. On the other hand, you most likely won’t be able to recover them at all if you deleted them a long time ago and have been using the SD card until now. 

That’s because deleted files physically remain on the SD card until they are overwritten by new files.  If you have a 32 GB SD card and write 32 GB of new data to it, you can be sure that all deleted files that were previously stored on it are no longer recoverable.  

What Is the Difference between SD Card Repair Software and Recovery Software?

Even though SD card repair and recovery software tools may seem to be doing more or less the same thing, the reality is quite different. 

  • Repair software: The job of SD card repair software is to fix logical damage and make unreadable SD cards readable again. In the process, repair software may actually recover files that seemed to be deleted or lost, but that’s not its primary purpose. 
  • Recovery software: On the other hand, SD card recovery software recovers deleted files by scanning the file system, looking for signs of deleted files. Some recovery software applications can also repair corrupted SD cards.  

How to Recover Deleted Files from SD Card Without Software

In some situations, you may not be able to install additional software on your Windows or Mac computer. Fortunately, there are some alternative solutions that you can try to get your files back.

Recover Your Files from a Backup

If you’re using backup software like File History on Windows or Time Machine on Mac, you’re in luck because you may be able to recover your files from a backup. 

Recover Your Files Using CMD/Terminal 

There are certain commands that you can try to recover your files using Command Prompt on Windows or Terminal on Mac, including:

  • Windows: drive letter : \ >attrib –h –r –s /s /d *.*
  • Mac: cd .Trash

To learn more about these commands read this Windows and Mac guide. 

What Types of Data Can Be Recovered from an SD Card?

Generally speaking, all common file formats can be recovered from an SD card, including: 

  • Video: AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPA, OGM, RM, SWF, WEBM, WMV.
  • Audio: MP3, FLAC, M4A, OGG, WAV, WMA, MPA, RA, MIDI, AMR. 
  • Image: JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, CR2, AI, DNG, ICO, PSD, SVG.
  • Document: TXT, DOC, DOCX, XML, HTML, MOBI, PAGES, PDF, RTF. 
  • Other: 7Z, ARJ, CAB, DMG, ISO, JAR, MBX, PST, RAR, RDB, TAR.XZ, ZIP

Of course, you need to select a capable SD card recovery solution with support for many different file formats to be able to recover all kinds of data from an SD card. 

On Which Types of Cards Can Data Be Recovered?

memory cards

SD card recovery software applications work with all memory cards—not just SD cards. As long as your computer can see the card, your SD card recovery application of choice will be able to recover it. 

Here’s an incomplete list of different types of memory cards that can be recovered with SD card recovery software: 

  • CompactFlash I (CF-I)
  • CompactFlash II (CF-II)
  • SmartMedia (SM/SMC)
  • Memory Stick (MS) 
  • Memory Stick Duo (MSD)
  • Memory Stick Pro Duo (MSPD)
  • Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo (MSPDX)
  • Memory Stick Micro M2 (M2)
  • Secure Digital Card (SD)
  • microSD card (microSD)
  • xD-Picture Card (xD)

While some memory card brands are more reliable than others, the brand of your memory card doesn’t affect the recovery process in any way, and there are countless users who’ve been able to recover lost data from memory cards manufactured by SanDisk, Lexar, Panasonic, Sony, Transcend, Samsung, and other companies. 

Corrupted SD Card Recovery: How to Recover Data from a Corrupted Memory Card?  

Recovering data from a corrupted SD card presents an additional challenge because you first need to fix the corruption before you can perform the actual recovery. Here are some common reasons why SD cards become corrupted: 

  • Physical damage.
  • Removal while a file transfer operation is in progress. 
  • Sharing the same SD card between multiple devices. 
  • Viruses and other kinds of malware. 
  • Improper formatting. 

It’s possible to tell that an SD card has become corrupted by its erratic behavior and refusal to mount. Corrupted SD cards are often slow and cause various error messages to appear unexpectedly. You may also notice that some of your files have gone missing. Sometimes, new files that can’t be opened may appear on your card, or the card may show either as completely empty or full. 

You can always fix a corrupted SD card by formatting it. We recommend you read this comprehensive article to learn 5 different ways to format an SD card. 

But what if the corrupted SD card has important data on it? In that case, you need to recover your data without formatting the card. Here are some solutions that you can try: 

  • CHKDSK (Windows): CHKDSK is a useful utility in Windows that can verify the file system integrity of a volume and fix logical file system errors. Even though it lacks a graphical user interface, it’s actually not difficult to use at all—you just need to know which command to use
  • First Aid (Mac): First Aid is a feature of Apple’s Disk Utility, and its purpose is to check partition maps and perform various other checks to repair disk errors. Apple describes how you can use it to fix corruption on its website. 
  • Use a different SD card reader: Sometimes the simplest fix is the most effective. Before you give up on your SD card, try using a different SD card reader. You might discover that your SD card was actually healthy the entire time.  
  • Physical repair: It takes a lot of experience and professional equipment to repair a badly damaged SD card, but there’s one trick that you can try at home, and this video published on YouTube by GSM Guide and titled “How To Repair A Corrupted SD Card within few minutes 100% working“ shows how to do it. 

SD Card Recovery Online: Myth or Truth?

The chances are that you’ve stumbled upon a website promising to recover data from your SD card online. We’re sorry to inform you that online SD card recovery is a myth. 

To recover data from an SD card (especially one that’s been damaged or corrupted), you need to install an SD card recovery software application on your computer—a browser-based solution won’t work. 

The reason some websites promise SD card recovery online probably won’t surprise you: they want you to download malware or steal your personal information. Instead of taking any chances, use one of the SD card recovery solutions described in this article. 

Does It Make Sense to Use a Data Recovery Service Instead of a Software Solution?

Yes, in certain situations, it does make sense to use a data recovery service instead of a software solution. Here are some examples: 

  • Your files are extremely important to you and you don’t want to take any chances. 
  • Your files belong to your organization and you don’t want to be personally responsible for their recovery. 
  • The SD card on which your files were stored has been damaged. 
  • Your technical skills are extremely limited. 
  • Your time is far more valuable to you than your money. 

For most people, however, data recovery software is the way to go. Modern data recovery software solutions are exceptionally easy to use and accessible to all users who know how to install and launch an application. 

Conclusion

After testing 15 free SD card data recovery software tools, it was easy to select Disk Drill as the overall winner. This user-friendly tool allows you to solve even the most challenging data recovery scenarios with just a few clicks—no expert knowledge needed. Our favorite 100% free SD card data recovery software tool was PhotoRec, while R-Studio, wits its impressive assortment of advanced data recovery features, emerged as the best solution for professionals.

free data recovery software Disk Drill for Windows & macOS Free Download

Did You Know?

The original Standard-Capacity (SDSC) SD cards are limited to 2 GB of storage space. The limit increased to 32 GB with the release of the Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) format in 2006. Three years later, the SD Card Association introduced the Secure Digital eXtended Capacity (SDXC) format, which supports cards up to 2 TB. The latest format is called Secure Digital Ultra Capacity (SDUC), and it supports cards up to 128 TB.

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David Morelo is a professional content writer in the technology niche, covering everything from consumer products to emerging technologies and their cross-industry application.
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Strong knowledge in data recovery, computer forensic and data litigation. 12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.