A Failing SD Card Doesn’t Mean Photo Recovery Isn’t Still Possible

Mar 07, 2017

Photos are precious memories that are very important to many people, and with digital photography it has become easier than ever to accumulate masses of precious data that needs to be saved and protected. However, it’s easy to become complacent about backing files up, and users tend to let files stack up on their SD cards instead. Whenever a card gets full, the user simply buys a new one and starts taking more photos.

SD cards are great for immediate storage while taking pictures, and for backup storage after the files have been copied to another location. That said, if users neglect to put their photos in an additional location for safekeeping, they are at the mercy of their SD cards’ durability.

If the SD card fails, those photos could be gone forever, and that can be a devastating loss. Since everyone is human, file loss due to SD card failure and a lack of backups happens all the time. That is why professional data recovery services are there to help users achieve photo recovery and better protect their memories in the future.

How do SD cards work?

SD stands for Secure Digital, and it is one of the most popular formats for flash memory today. They come in many shapes, sizes, and capacities, so what they look like and the specifics of how they work can vary according to the brand. They are most often seen in devices including:

  • Camcorders
  • Digital Cameras
  • MP3 devices
  • Smartphones

These devices are often quite small today, and require a very small storage device in order to allow for file accumulation. A traditional Hard Drive Disk (HDD) found in a computer would not be helpful here, because it requires moving parts that aren’t conducive to handheld devices subjected to lots of jarring. Also, a HDD takes up much more room than the smaller flash memory option offered by Solid State Drives (SSD).

SD cards are like tiny SSD drives that work using a series of connected flash memory chips that use electric charges to store data. An SD card is usually inserted into a slot provided on a digital camera or other recording device, and then when new files are created they are saved to the SD card instead of directly to the device. Digital cameras do have a small capacity for photo storage without additional memory, but this can be greatly expanded to numerous gigabytes of storage with an SD card.

SD cards can easily become corrupted or damaged

SD cards are fairly reliable storage options to an extent, but they can fail just as easily as many other types of storage technology, causing the need for photo recovery. Some of the most common reasons for card corruption include:

  • Removing card while an image is being saved
  • Losing power while an image is being saved
  • Improperly removing card from computer without ejection
  • Removing card from computer while files are in use
  • Using a card that hasn’t been formatted for the device
  • Using a full card to take new pictures and delete along the way
  • Taking too many photos too quickly

These are just a few of many ways a card can become corrupted and lock a user out of their photos. These cards can also be harmed if they are in a computer or device that is plugged in during a power surge, or if they become too old or too well used. If an SD card has become inaccessible, there is no need to panic right away. The photos may still be accessible through more technical means, such as a photo recovery program or a professional data recovery service.

Users should be very careful with a malfunctioning card to protect files

The worst thing a user can do is to panic and start randomly trying different things to fix the card or access the files. In haste or uninformed photo recovery attempts, it’s easy to permanently delete some, or all of the files. If the SD card is reformatted it will wipe all the existing data without a trace, making photo recovery virtually impossible. The first thing to do is power everything down if necessary, and properly eject or remove the card.

Then the user can do some research to find out what the problem may be, and whether it is something they feel comfortable attempting to remedy without help. If the problem is too complicated, or the photos are too important to risk losing in a home attempt at recovery, the user can call a professional data recovery service for expert help. Photo recovery is a very commonly offered service, because accidents happen and people don’t want to lose important memories or keepsakes.

The user can consult with a professional about the problem to receive advice, or bring the camera (or just the memory card) in to be looked at by a knowledgeable tech for evaluation. If the files are deemed recoverable, the user can pay a fee and have their files restored to a safer format for keeping, such as a new USB flash drive.

Photos that are meant to be kept long term should not be stored solely on an SD card. In fact, they shouldn’t be only in one place because that invites the danger of failure and total loss. Backups are the best way to protect photos, whether they be in a hard copy or in the cloud. In the event of disaster, however, photo recovery is usually an option that can save the day.