How do I recover my lost photos?

Written By: Ontrack

Date Published: 16 May 2024 04:05:30 EDT

How do I recover my lost photos?

We live in an age of digital photos. According to Keypoint Intelligence, we will take 1,436,300,000,000 photos in 2020! That’s a huge number, but it’s no wonder when you think that everyone who owns a smartphone is effectively carrying a camera with them. Photo enthusiasts have DSLR’s or better and more recently the launch of image-capturing devices like drones and GoPros mean we’re capable of taking a lot of photos.

 Unfortunately, like computers, digital media can suffer from corruption and make your photos inaccessible. When this happens, knowing the options available to you to be able to recover your lost photos is invaluable.

 Regardless of whether you store your photos on a hard drive, SSD, memory card or a USB stick, knowing what steps you should take if accidental deletion, hardware failure or corruption occurs can be the difference between recovering your photos or not.

Physical or logical damage

One of the most important things to address is to work out whether the failure is due to logical or physical reasons. Physical failure is normally quite easy to diagnose, as this is where the digital media is physically damaged and cannot connect with the device that reads the data; this would typically happen due to accidental breakage or rough treatment. Logical damage refers to a broad number of situations where data loss has occurred, but the media is completely sound. Examples are accidental deletion, data corruption due to an error in firmware or malware, controller failures or driver problems. No matter what the scenario, you should remember that data recovery is normally always possible.

Option one: data recovery software

So, you’ve accidentally deleted your photos, and you’re unsure about what to do next. Losing data is never a pleasant experience; however, try not to panic as your deleted data may still be recoverable. Data recovery software is the best choice if your device is not physically damaged. If your device is physically damaged, then contact a data recovery professional, like Ontrack, who can give you advice on what to do next.

If you’re certain that there’s nothing physically wrong with your device, then you can try using a DIY software tool like Ontrack EasyRecovery to recover your lost photos. If you do choose to try the software, then always buy one from a trusted provider. Ontrack EasyRecovery will allow you to recover 1GB of data for free, so this is a great option, to begin with.

Below you’ll find step-by-step how to recover deleted files using the Ontrack EasyRecovery software tool. For demonstration purposes, we’ve deleted some photos from a USB flash drive and will use Ontrack EasyRecovery for Windows to get them back.

Some basic safety precautions

Successful data recoveries are dependent on several factors, but if you suspect you’ve lost data, it’s best to stop using your device immediately to prevent any further damage. With this in mind, remember to download the software to a different system than the one you are trying to recover data from. This is very important, as it avoids you using the affected device further and potentially overwriting the very data you’re trying to recover!

Step 1: Choose your file types

Firstly, you’ll want to select the type of files you want to recover. If you know what type of file(s) that went missing (e.g. Word document or a JPG image), then make sure that option is checked before continuing or just select ‘All Data’.

Step 2: Select the device or location

You then need to select the device or location from where you wish to recover data from. This software can recover data from a multitude of devices and locations, including your internal hard drive, SSDs, SD cards and USB drives. The only requirement is that it is recognised as a ‘removable media device’.

Simply connect your device, select it from the list and start the scan. If your device doesn’t appear in this list, then it might not be recognised by your system as a removable media device. In this case, you will need to contact your local IT specialist or data recovery professional for further guidance.

Step 3: Start the scan

Now you can press ‘Scan’ to begin the process of looking for your files. The software will default to running a ‘Quick Scan’ first, which attempts to find lost files as fast as possible. If you’d like to conduct a more thorough scan, you can choose the ‘Deep Scan’ option when prompted, or you can choose to do this later if you can’t see the files you need.

It may take a short while for the software to complete the scan depending on the condition of your device and the amount of data stored on it. As you can see in the image above, you are shown an overview of the current status of the scan, including how much data has been identified and the amount of time left until it completes.

Step 4: Save your files

Finally, once the scan has finished the software will display a list of all the data it can recover. Note that on the top-left of the window you have the option of filtering by ‘File Type’, ‘Tree View’ or ‘Deleted List’; the latter will only show you the deleted/lost data that has been identified and will ignore everything else.

You can preview the data that the software has found by simply clicking on files shown in the list, which is handy if you’re looking for particular photos, videos or documents to recover. You can also use the search bar on the top-right of the window to find specific file names.

To recover your deleted data, simply click the checkboxes to the left of the files or folders you need and then click ‘Recover’. You’ll then be prompted to choose where you would like to recover your data to. Always choose somewhere other than where the data loss occurred, for example; if you’re trying to recover deleted data from a USB drive like we are doing, save the recovered data to your computer’s desktop or documents folder.

In a hurry?

If you don’t have time to recover your data right away, simply close down the software, and you will be prompted to save your results first. You can then pick up where you left off at a later time with the useful ‘Resume Recovery’ button on the top toolbar, instead of having to run the whole scan again.

Once you’ve recovered the data you need, check it over thoroughly to make sure you haven’t missed any files or folders. If you suspect that something is missing, try running a ‘Deep Scan’ so that the software can spend more time analysing your device for potentially better results.

That wraps up our guide of how to recover deleted files. If you’d like to download Ontrack EasyRecovery Free (which lets you recover 1GB of data for free), you can do so, via our website. Remember that prevention is always the best form of protection!


KLDiscovery Ontrack Limited, Nexus, 25 Farringdon Street, London, EC4A 4AB, United Kingdom (see all locations)