Canon Photo Recovery: Everything You Need to Know (Updated 2017)

Last updated: Mar. 7, 2017

girl taking pictures with a Canon camera

So you just hit the delete button on your Canon camera, or formatted the memory card, only to find that a batch of precious pictures are yet to be transferred?

Panic often sets in. But you don't have to, as you can retrieve those "lost" photos or videos, provided that you use the right Canon photo recovery software and follow the right steps.

In this article, we're going to show you how to "undelete" Canon or "unformat" the card and help you pull back the lost photographs.

Notethere isn't a button or function in Canon that enables you to undo such operation, but you can use the techniques we're introducing below to recover your Canon files.

Keep reading for how...

What happens when I delete pictures off a Canon camera?

No matter you delete the pictures via your Canon camera or on a computer, the delete function doesn't really get rid of the files immediately. What happens is that the data included in those files are now marked as available to be written over — meaning it just tells your camera (memory card) to write new photos or videos to the space whenever necessary.

Formatting a Canon camera card is similar, it does not erase the data right away unless you continue using the same camera to take more photographs. The newly generated data can overwrite the old one. Once your lost photos are overwritten, it's safe to say they are gone for good.

Why deleted pictures are still recoverable?

As we explained above, although you no longer have access to your images from the camera, the data contained in those images are still intact there. If you haven't taken any new photos (or saved new data to the memory card), it's almost guaranteed that you'll be able to recover the lost pics. Bottom line — it all depends whether your previously deleted files are overwritten or not.

The good part is that the overwriting activity can take quite some to occur if you use a high-volume secure digital (SD) or Compact Flash (CF) card. However, it's extremely hard to tell whether overwriting has occurred or not.

What should I do now?

Stop using your Canon for any further shooting. It's also best to remove the memory card from your camera or computer (if it's connected), set it aside and make sure it's not going to suffer any physical damage.

Next, go get a recovery software to recover pictures from your Canon memory card.

What's the best Canon photo recovery software in 2017?

Well, it's hard to say, and it doesn't really matter that much. As long as the software works to find and recover your deleted pictures, it's good.

We like Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery because it's powerful and easy to use. Plus, it has both a Windows and MacOS version so you can run the application on any PC or Mac. 

Get Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery

Stellar Phoenix stands out of the crowd for several reasons based on our best photo recovery software review. First of all, it's a tool specially tailored to restore photos lost from digital media including Canon cameras. Second, it's powerful. According to Stellar, it supports all Canon camera models such as PowerShot G1/SX30/SX150/A1200, EOS 60D/50D/60D/5D/7D/Rebel T3/Rebel T3i, IXUS 220/230/1100, etc. The software also supports a range of file formats including not only common image formats like JPG (JPEG), PNG, TIFF, but Canon RAW photo formats such as CR2, CRW.

Canon file recovery: step by step guide

With only 3 steps: Connect > Scan > Recover, you can get back your deleted or lost pictures effortlessly.

Step 1: Get Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery and install the software on your computer. Now connect your Canon camera (memory card) to the computer via a USB cable or a card reader.

Note: if your memory card is full-size, insert it directly into the card adapter on your computer.

Step 2: Open the recovery software you've just installed. Click on the blue button located in the center to start. Then highlight the drive your Canon card represents, select the file types you want to retrieve from the 'Advanced Scan' option (Pro tip: you can also recover RAW photos in the .cr2 or .crw format). Click 'Start Scan' to initialize a scanning procedure.

Step 3: Preview and recover the found images. When the scan is complete (you can also pause the process manually), preview the thumbnails of those photos to evaluate whether they are the ones you deleted. Then click the blue Recover button to save the files to a desired destination.

A couple of things to remember

  • The moment you found your photos got deleted or lost, immediately stop taking more photos or videos with your Canon camera. Also avoid saving more files to the camera memory SD or CF card.
  • For those of you who encounter memory card errors with your Canon camera, use a photo recovery software to retrieve the photos first. Then reformat the card by connecting it to your PC or Mac. After that, try the recovery tool to see if more pictures can be found as formatting doesn't erase the data immediately. This article how to fix memory card not formatted error has more.
  • If your Canon camera or memory card can't be recognized or detected, make it work first before you proceed.
  • When it comes to the last step, do not save the recovered photos back to your memory card to avoid partial data overwriting. Instead, save the files to your computer hard drive first, then transfer them to an external drive if necessary.

Your feedback

Have you successfully retrieved your Canon pictures using the above techniques? Let us know by leaving a quick comment below. We appreciate any feedback you'd have or any problems you encounter during the recovery process.

Cover image courtesy to Zorah in Flickr.​

Chris Hwang

Chris is a certified computer technician since 2008. He writes everything related to computer issues and loves helping people solve problems. Currently, he's extending his interests into cloud computing.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments