Many of today’s digital cameras use memory devices such as SD, MiniSD, XD, CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Sony Memory Stick, and MMC memory cards to store and recover digital photos and image data. As with disk drives, it is quite possible to recover deleted photos from such devices.
These devices store the data on a memory chip contained within them. A camera memory card is little different to a hard disk drive or memory stick with regards to the way that the operating system stores and retrieves data from it. This includes what happens when image files are deleted. Similarly, the same principles apply if you need to recover deleted photos or movie files.
To have the best chance of success when trying to recover digital photos, say if you want to recover compact flash data, do not save any more images or files to the device concerned. In most cases, all or most of the image data is still contained on the memory card. You stand a good chance of being able to recover the deleted photos until new data (a new picture) is saved onto the card. At that point the likelihood of being able to successfully recover the digital photos diminishes.
In many instances it is also possible to recover deleted photos from memory cards even after a reformat of the card while in the camera. However, some proprietary techniques for reformatting can sometimes completely wipe all traces of the files from the card and make it impossible to recover digital photos in these cases.
For information on how to recover deleted photos see our recommended file and photo recovery software page.