Photo and video recovery software

Corrupted memory cardA while ago, a corrupted XD card gave me an opportunity to try a bunch of picture (and video) recovery programs. When reading the following reviews, please keep in mind that 1. files can “disappear” for different reasons, so what didn’t work for me might work for you and 2. the more programs I used on the same xD card, the higher the chance it got more corrupted (due to card or card reader defects or maybe software actions) 3. the whole thing is just my personal experience and no fair comparison under “lab conditions”.

Recover My Photos from GetData (the makers of the general-purpose Recover My Files software [affiliate link]): Using the “deep scan” option, this program was able to find all lost files within only 15 minutes. I liked the way it lets you select the file types it’s supposed to look for. I also liked the preview function, though it’s a bit sadistic, because you have to buy the program before it’ll actually restore any files. What I didn’t like was the 39,95 US$ price tag, especially since cnet / download.com listed it as “$29.95 to buy”. That’s why I went looking for other programs.

PC Inspector smart recovery 4.5: It’s freeware, sponsored by Convar. Unfortunately, the setup program refused to work until I disabled my virus scanner (Bitdefender). Furthermore, PC Inspector was much slower than “Recover My Photos” and could only recover one file type each time it worked its way through the xD card. I wasn’t patient enough and started looking for other options (below), though I eventually returned to PC Inspector and had it recover the pictures in about 2 hours plus another 2 hours for the videos. While it did a great job with the pictures, some AVI file were still damaged (but playable with VLC media player).

Smart Data Recovery 3.2: Freeware. Unfortunately, it couldn’t find any files.

Art Plus Digital Photo Recovery 2.3: Freeware, too (donations are appreciated). You select the drive with the corrupted pictures, a folder to save them in and then the software does its job. Unfortunately, it did way too much: after 3 hours, I had to stop it because it had recovered more than 2000 pictures, most of them tiny useless and unreadable 37kB files. While it had found some real photos, too, and I believe it would eventually have recovered all of them, it was unable to recover video files. Note: A new version (3.0) has been released in the meantime.

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