Photo Recovery Software for Windows 7

November 18, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Data recovery is something that few of us ever want to resort to – in fact it is something most of us would prefer not to talk about. The whole possibility of losing data is embarrassing!

In corporate environments, the majority of networks have network backup tools that save all vital data stored on the company network on a nightly basis. As such there is little scope for losing data from these locations, although the possibility remains of data loss on a PC hard drive, or even from a digital camera or flash memory stick.

As the majority of data recovery applications are designed only to read and recover data from FAT 32 or NTFS file structures, there is little chance of recovering photos and video from damaged camera storage and memory cards – unless you use PhotoRec, a great open source and free to use utility which will recover lost data from:

  • FAT,
  • NTFS,
  • EXT2/EXT3 filesystem
  • HFS+

Not only can PhotoRec be used on a flash memory card it can also be used on your PC’s internal or external hard disk drive. Included with PhotoRec is a tool called TestDisk which deals with the FAT and NTFS file structures.

Getting Started with PhotoRec

Visit www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Download to download PhotoRec and TestDisk. Choose the Windows option to download and once complete extract the testdisk folder.

Once extracted browse to the Win folder and run photorec_win.exe – you will need to agree to the User Access Control notification.

PhotoRec will run in a black DOS window, with the available physical disks that were inserted or activated at the point the utility was run. If you need to insert or switch on a disk, you will need to restart PhotoRec after this has been done.

Searching for Recoverable Files

To find recoverable files you will need to select the disk you wish to recover data from, and then select the partition table type. For instance on a PC you will need to select Intel. After this, you would select file system type, which on a PC would be FAT or NTFS.

File system types to search on a flash memory card would be HFS+ and EXT2/EXT3.

With the correct options selected, you will then be able to begin recovery. PhotoRec will ask you if you wish to save recovered data in the PhotoRec folder – select Y for yes or N for no to proceed at this point. If you have any concerns about the amount of space that this might take up, you should run PhotoRec from a location with more space. The recovery can be stopped at any point, so this shouldn’t prove difficult.

What To Do with Recovered Photos

As your photo files are recovered, PhotoRec will save them into folders in the Win folder, such as recup_dir.1. These files can be checked once recovery commences, and wholly recovered files can be previewed in Windows Explorer. Note that only once recovery has ended should you attempt to copy any files as there may be data missing from them. Once recovery is complete, however, you can copy the recovered JPG, BMP, PNG, AVI, MPEG and other image and video files to a new location and enjoy them!

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