Last updated: Jan. 6, 2017
So you've learned that photo recovery software can be used to recover deleted or lost pictures from a memory card or from a computer — even if you've formatted the card/disk, or it became corrupted.
That's great. But not all photo recovery tools are created equal. In our experience, some are good at recovering deleted pictures, some good at digging a little deeper and rescuing more images from a crashed storage media.
We've tested every popular digital photo recovery program to determine which was best for recovering photos (and other type of media files like videos and audio files) — analyzing everything from security, recovery ability, supported devices, ease of use, and system compatibility.
Here's a list of top four best photo recovery software that stood out:
Please note: the software selected below are for recovering media files from digital cameras, memory cards, PC/Mac hard drives, etc. If you want to recover photos from a mobile device, check out our recovery software reviews for iPhones, iPads, or Android phones.
QUICK PICKS: 4 GREAT CHOICES
Windows & macOS
Windows & macOS
**Below, you'll find our expert reviews, but feel free to click the links above to get the software and start recovering your lost pictures.
Criteria We Chose for Photo Recovery Evaluation
Below are the five main factors we used to test dozens of image recovery utilities. We also include detailed explanations on why they are important for you.
- Security: we make sure all tested and recommended tools are virus-free, we do so by uploading the downloaded file to Valkyrie — a sophisticated file verdict system for such usage. We also evaluate if the program is nondestructive or versatile, as software designed for photo recovery should only perform read-only operations and shouldn't cause any damage to a storage media.
- Recovery ability: this is the essential part of our test. A powerful photo recovery software should be able to recover all kinds of image formats available today. Besides standard JPEG, PNG, we also pay attention to see if the program support camera RAW image formats. Also, to our surprise, most of the photo rescue software available in the market can retrieve video and audio files as well.
- Supported devices: if the software is not able to detect the storage devices (e.g. a memory card, flash disk, etc.) where your lost photos reside in, then it's useless. I did find several such programs which are for restoring pictures from a Windows PC hard drive only. In short, the best tools should support conventional devices that carry our photographs.
- Ease of use: user experience is another important factor we care. We find some programs poorly designed and look alike; we knock them out because we suspect they are white-labelling products (except the brand name, everything else is same). Also, we have to admit that we prefer GUI software than command line tools.
- System compatibility: software that keeps updating tends to be more secure yet reliable. If a Windows photo recovery software is not compatible with latest Windows 10, or a Mac photo recovery tool can't be run under OS X El Capitan or latest macOS Sierra, we have to think twice before putting them on the list.
What's The Best Photo Recovery Software?
All the software below have been tested by our team; we confirm that they are secure: free of malware issue, and they perform read-only scanning which means safe to use.
Easy Digital Photo Recovery (Windows Only)
Easy Digital Photo Recovery is a simple image recovery tool that works amazingly well to recover many types of graphic images (from JPEG, TIFF to many RAW formats). What we like most about the software is that it scans quickly and allows you to preview all found images thus you'll locate lost items a lot faster — less panic. The program also incorporates multiple languages on the Interface including English, French, Spanish, German, etc. In terms of compatibility, the software is only for Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8 (NOT for Mac users). Though the developer doesn't claim compatibility information about Windows 10, we tested it on our Windows 10 PC, and it worked perfectly.
Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery
Stellar Photo Recovery is one of the most powerful digital media recovery software. Besides images, it's also capable of recovering videos and music files. Specific media file formats supported include (but not limited to) JPEG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, RAW, MP3, MP4, AVI, WMV, FLV, MOV, WAV. The software also supports vast majority of storage devices such as digital cameras, flash cards, PC/Mac hard drives (except SSDs), and more. Stellar comes with both a Windows and Macintosh version. So you'll have no problem using it on your PC or Mac.
Odboso PhotoRetrieval (Windows Only)
PhotoRetrieval is another excellent photo recovery software that passed our test. It's developed to recover deleted photos (also videos & audio) from both computer hard drives and portable devices such as digital cameras, cell phones, memory sticks, etc. No matter you lose files due to accidental deletion, disk formatting, hardware malfunction, the program has no problem handling these situations. The drawbacks include: the application is only compatible with Windows, and user interface has room to improve.
Remo Recover Media
Like its name indicates, the software aims to recover media items — Remo claims it's able to identify and restore up to 50 popular media file types from iPods, flash memory cards, camcorders, and hard drives. The best part is its deep scanning mechanism, which allows you to scan the entire disk drive thoroughly and get back all deleted, formatted or lost pictures, videos, and audio files safely. The software can run on a PC or a Mac, and it's compatible with all versions of Windows OS including Windows 10 and Mac OS X including El Capitan and latest macOS Sierra.
Disclaimer: our photo recovery reviews are based mostly on (1) our own experience in testing and using the programs, (2) the information provided by respective developers, and (3) the expertise of computer geeks with whom we consult. Our goal is to test every feature of all the recommended tools. However, due to the fact that it's sometimes impossible to do so as some photo loss scenarios are random and can't be made on purpose. As such, please be aware that the best picture recovery programs recommended above are our opinions. We do highly suggest you contact their customer support for help if you encounter any problems or issues during the recovery process.
Influenced by the startup culture in the Silicon Valley, Jessica loves building things from zero to one and is keen on following news related to the Big Five tech giants and many SaaS startups.