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How to Recover Lost Photos

Recuva
Recuva (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you have lost your digital photos due to an accident with your camera or a technical error, it may be possible to recover those photos by using the techniques written here.

A digital photo, like any other file, is a collection of data on a disk whose location is marked in a database used by the computer.  When a photo is lost or deleted, only the database entry has been removed.  Until the actual file information has been overwritten by a new file, it is possible to recover that photo.

It is best to hire a professional to recover your lost photos.  Photos are too expensive (often priceless) to risk damaging by retrieving them yourself.  Major retailers like Best Buy* and Staples do not recover photos.  Those stores will ship your disk or camera-card to Texas and charge you almost $1,000.00 to recover the data by using another company.  If you own a business and have lost tax documents, this might be a good idea, otherwise try a local small business which repairs computers.

*Best Buy also offers file recovery in store for $160.00, but this is a scam.  Using Best Buy to recover your files will result in your files being copied to their hard drive and kept for over a month.  Best Buy's technicians are not allowed to recover deleted or damaged files, they are only allowed to copy files which they find.

At your local computer repair business, tell them how much the photos are worth to you.  If they are baby photos, you might be willing to pay hundreds of dollars to recover them.  Your Thanksgiving photos are probably worth less to you.  Small businesses will work with your budget much more than retailers like Best Buy and might also be more sympathetic and willing to help.

If you want to attempt to recover your photos yourself, you can do so using free software that can be found on the internet.  Searching for "free photo recovery software" will reveal such options as "Recuva" and others.  Unless you have a lot of technical knowledge, trying to recover your own photos can risk damaging those photos beyond repair.  We encourage do-it-yourself at Lotito Technical Services, but we also wish to describe the risk involved accurately.

When attempting to recover your lost photos, be sure to:

  • Set your disk or camera card to "Read-Only."
  • Copy recovered photos to a different disk or hard-drive.
  • Do not use your disk or camera card until you have recovered your photos or given up.

Photo recovery software like Recuva has a step-by-step process that makes it easy for amateurs to attempt this repair, but do not explain fully what risks are involved or what steps you can take to ensure your recovery attempt is a success.