You have been out to a special event and snapped numerous photos; arriving home you cannot wait to check them out on the computer. You insert the SD card with the photos into your computer but what's happened to the photos? There seems to be an error reading the card, are the photos lost forever? This is a scenario that unfortunately occurs sometimes but fears not as image repair may be possible to get your photos back. Here we take a look at why image errors may occur and how you might be able to save the day and recover them.
There are many reasons why image errors can occur on an SD card with some of them perhaps being avoidable with a little hindsight, while others you have no control over. An SD card is commonly used in cameras and phones allowing storage of hundreds of photos. As they are removable they can become damaged as they are routinely put into devices to transfer files and then removed.
Here we take a look at some of the most common reasons why people encounter errors when using SD cards and how to avoid them in the future, if possible.
All SD cards have a file system on them, kind of like a mini operating system. This is generally FAT16 for cards up to 2GB of storage and FAT32 for cards of between 2GB and up to 32GB. The most common file system is FAT32 as it is more compatible with various devices. When purchasing a new SD card you might want to format the card first by popping it into the computer before using it in your camera. This will ensure it is clean and ready to use with the correct file system.
Regardless you might still have issues with the file system of the SD card and it may become corrupt. If so you will not be able to access data on the card, including any photos. In this case, you might want to try image repair from the SD card. If you manage to get your photos from the card you should then reformat the card before using it again or purchase a new one.
SD cards are only small, even smaller if they are microSD. This means they are relatively fragile considering the fact they are taken out of the camera and put into the computer many times to transfer photos and files. Sadly it also means the card can become physically damaged no matter how careful you seem to be. The more you use the card the more likely it is to become physically damaged over time. The SD card is comprised of electronic components, which can also become damaged. If physical damage occurs the computer might not recognize it and you may not be able to access your photos. Being extremely careful with your SD card might go some way towards avoiding physical damage but it's not always the answer.
If you are using the SD card frequently for storage there will be times when you have to format the card. Sometimes, for various reasons, this does not go as planned and the format is interrupted. If this occurs there is a possibility that the card has become compromised and/or the file system becomes damaged as above. You might be able to repair the SD card by reformatting it but be cautious about using it in the future as errors might crop back up on the card.
Just as with any other type of storage device the SD card may get a virus infection or be infected with malware when using it with the computer. Viruses can transfer onto the card leaving the card inaccessible or making the files corrupt on the SD card. Having a good virus and malware detector on your computer can go a long way to stopping viruses affecting your card.
Over time and use the SD card is going to attract bad sectors. This means that photos or any other files cannot be stored in those sectors of the card. Any photos on bad sectors that cropped up after taking the photos will be inaccessible. The card will only accumulate more bad sectors over time, so when issues begin it may be a sign that it is time to purchase a new card.
In some cases, the issue lies with the computer not recognizing the SD card and is unable to show the photos stored on it. In this instance, there might not be an issue with the card itself but the computer. Before panic sets in you might want to try removing the SD card by clicking on the "Eject removable storage" button in your taskbar, then restart the computer and try again.
Thankfully there are some ways you might be able to access your photos even if you have issues with the SD card and your photos are inaccessible or damaged, two of which are listed below.
Recoverit Data Recovery is a piece of software available for Windows or Mac to help with image repair and photo recovery for a wide range of storage, including SD cards. The software may even be able to help you recover photos that you accidentally deleted from your SD card.
Here are the steps to take to try to recover photos from an SD:
Important: Do not save the recovered files to the SD card, save them to the computer and back them up into cloud storage or a new SD card.
The software is dedicated to helping you recover the original photos and images. Before saving the recovered files, you can preview the pictures and check if they are recovered as you wish. If they are recovered but still corrupted, it may be caused by your SD card errors. You need to fix the SD card or go on to the next solution, which can directly repair your corrupted images.
If the above software has failed to fix your JPEG files, you might want to try the professional photo repair software Stella Phoenix photo repair. This is a software tool aimed specifically at repairing JPG or JPEG images that have become corrupted and unreadable. There are many benefits to using it and it works great on photos that are blurred or pixelated or which have distortions on them.
Repairing photos with Stella Phoenix Photo Repair is easy with the process being undertaken in just a few steps as listed below:
At this point, it may be in your better interest to make a back-up of the photos.
As you can see from above there are numerous reasons why photos may be lost, become damaged, or inaccessible when using an SD card for storage. Some manufacturers have indicated that an SD card may last for up to five years before issues arise, however more likely the card will only give you two or so years, but there is no guarantee. Luckily if you have come across issues with your SD card and lost or encountered inaccessible images all may not be lost thanks to the above image repair solutions.