Digital photographs are fragile. It can be really upsetting to find your favorite photos or videos got deleted, corrupted, or become un-viewable. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or experienced photographer, you probably have encountered the issue once or several times.
That's why we decide to create a list of top-rated software tools we've used to successfully recover the digital memories. Our goal of this writing is the same - to help you get back your lost or inaccessible images or videos.
Please note that all the software tools below can only run and work on a PC or Mac, some are for Windows or MacOS only, or both. Be sure to get the right version that is compatible for your computer's operating system.
If you accidentally deleted some photos (or videos and audio files) from your digital camera, or the files are inaccessible due to memory card corruption, try the tools below. Note: to increase chances of recovery, do not write more data to the card until your files are recovered.
Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery was primarily developed to recover deleted or lost media files from a variety of storage devices including camera memory cards. What we like most about the software is the ease of use, and the trial version allows you to scan and preview found items. The downside is the scanning process can be a bit time-consuming, depending on your card capacity though. You can speed up the scan by specifying file type.
Remo Recover (Media) is also great at recovering lost files from digital camera media cards. The recovery process is quite simple: scan, preview and recover. The program supports recovery of many media file types. The downside is its user interface is a bit confusing with several clickable buttons the screen: "Recover Deleted Photos" or "Recover Lost Photos." We suggest you read the explanation under each option before moving to the next step.
If you find your pictures (JPEGs, or Adobe PSD files) start to act up, for example, they do not open via Windows Photo Viewer (PC) or Preview (Mac). Often they are split into chunks. If so, try one of the best JPEG repair software listed below. Note: due to complexities of image elements, your repairing efforts may not be successful all the time — but it's worth a try.
Stellar Phoenix JPEG Repair - as its name indicates, is a program that can be used to repair JPEG/JPG images. It's pretty straightforward and has two sub-functions: "Repair JPEG" and "Extract Thumbnail" (as shown on the main interface). Try the repair option first. If it doesn't work out, try the latter. Note: The thumbnails extracted are not likely to be high resolution, but it may worth keeping them.
Picture Doctor is another great tool for fixing broken images. In addition to JPEGs, it also supports Adobe PSD files. All recovered files will be saved into BMP format after repair. The only downside about this tool is for PC users only. If you use a Mac, you'll have to try another alternative. Quick tip: before you start, make a copy of your original files just in case.
The program is for Windows only, and you can get it here.
If you use a camcorder, or an action camera like GoPro. Chances are the video files can become damaged or unable to be played on a computer, due to SD card corruption/error. The tools below can be of help.
Remo Repair MOV - don't be fooled by its name, the software is actually capable of repairing MP4 videos as well. Simply choose a reference file (i.e. any working video with the same settings in your camera; optional), then open your corrupted .mp4 or .mov file and hit "Repair." Pro tip: once the repair process is complete, preview the video before recovery.
Stellar Phoenix Video Repair is another great tool made for fixing broken or damaged video files. Besides MP4 and MOV files, it also supports M4V, M4A, and F4V videos. Stellar claims the app is capable of repairing videos damaged due to memory card error and header corruption. You can preview fixed videos to check quality, but are limited to files up to 10MB — which is a bit disappointing though.
You can get the Windows or the Mac version here.
Disclosure: This best software list is ranked based on our own opinions. Some of the links above are affiliate links — that means if you decide to purchase a piece of software, we will receive a commission for the sale that is at no additional cost to you. Nonetheless, we have either used or purchased the tools listed below and recommend them because they are useful.
The page was last updated on Oct. 18, 2017