Last updated: Jul. 3, 2017
Nothing quite takes the joy out of digital photography like losing images. Whether through a user error or technical glitch, deleted photos are deleted memories, not just missing pixels.
But, those missing images may not be actually missing after all. Deleted files are inaccessible by your camera, but often a remnant of the file is left behind — the right software can put those leftover pieces together and can actually often recover deleted photos from any camera.
There are several great tools for digital camera photo recovery — but many of them aren't worth the space on your hard drive. Free programs are hard to use and often only include a PC version (sorry Mac fans). Worse yet, they might encourage you to give up on those lost images too soon.
Great photo recovery programs like Stellar Phoenix, Remo Recover and Wondershare, on the other hand, are easy to use, available in PC (Windows 10) and Mac (macOS Sierra) versions, and most importantly, are more likely to recover those deleted files from your digital camera. Here's what you need to know about each program to find which one will work best for you.
Tip: As soon as you realize you lost images, stop. Taking more pictures could overwrite those leftover pieces, reducing the chances of a successful recovery.
#1: Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery
Stellar Phoenix is a comprehensive software — the program isn't just for SD cards, but also works with hard drives, flash drives and digital cameras with built-in memory. Along with recovering images, the program can also recover video and audio. Unlike many programs, Stellar Phoenix can also recover shooting information — like the date that the photo was taken.
Stellar offers a handful of features for enthusiasts or even professional photographers, including recovery of RAW images. The program will also work on large hard drives, up to 2TB. The software is free to try, but a purchase is necessary to recover the files. The full version is $50 while added features for repairing images is available in the $60 version.
#2: Remo Recover Media
Remo Recover is both simple and quick, yet offers some advanced features like RAW recovery. The software is designed for recovering photos, video and audio files deleted from a variety of different cameras. Along with recovering photos from an SD card or hard drive, Remo can recover files from your computer's trash can, even after it was emptied.
The media recovery tool also works for more than just photos — so if you also lose your videos, music or other files down the road, you already have the software to recover it. A free download will show you what files the program can recover; the full version is $50 for Windows, but Mac users will have to pay $70.
#3: Wondershare Data Recovery
Wondershare can recover images and RAW files in just a few clicks. The program is easy to use, yet will work for a variety of image loss scenarios, including accidental deletions and even viruses. Wondershare also includes a feature allowing you to pause and resume the recovery, which isn't an option on most programs.
Wondershare Data Recovery is available for both Mac and PC. The program offers a free trial, so you can see if your files can be recovered before spending anything. Then the full version starts from $39.95. Wondershare also has a one-year licensing option, where you can get use of the program for a year for about $20, but only for Windows users. The company also offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
Image loss can be devastating, but it's not always permanent. From accidental deletions to corrupt files, above are the best non-free programs to trust with recovering your photos.
Hillary is a technology writer and photographer based in Michigan. While her favorite tech brands are Apple and Nikon, she enjoys exploring all but the most frustrating new devices.