Guide: Recovering Deleted Files from a Digital Voice Recorder

Last updated: Feb. 3, 2017

woman listening to a voice recording

If you have ever accidentally deleted files off your digital voice recorder — or even lost some audio recordings due to low battery issues, it's still possible to recover the lost files, provided that you stop recording additional voice memos and keep your device safe from any physical damage.

In this guide, I'll show you how to perform data recovery from a digital voice recorder. In the end, you should see your lost files back alive again.

What you need to prepare:

  • The voice recorder device you are using
  • The USB cable or a memory card reader (if you save files on a MicroSD card)
  • Your personal computer
  • A data recovery software
  • Access to the Internet (to download recovery software online)

Why is it possible to retrieve files deleted off your device?

No matter what type of voice recorder you use, the files are saved either on the device internal memory or an extended memory card. Most modern digital recorders support memory expansion. For example, a Sony or Olympus recorder usually has a built-in 4GB internal flash memory and a memory slot used to load external microSD. All you have to do is select where to save those new generated audio files.

Either way, no matter you accidentally deleted some files, formatted the flash memory, or the device failed to show the files, chances are the real data contained in those files are still saved on the storage memory (either internal or external). The data can be easily recovered as long as they are not written over — meaning occupied by new data you generate.

Therefore, the first thing you should do when you notice data loss is — STOP using your voice recorder right away!

Digital voice recorder recovery software

Next, you'll need a data recovery software that is capable of recovering audio files in WMA, WAV file format.

We recommend Stellar Photo Recovery (besides photos, it also retrieves audio and video files) because the program is super easy to use and it supports recovering many types of files. You can use it to scan your device memory to see if your items are recoverable or not. Best of all, you can also preview the found recordings to find if your deleted ones are there.

The software also comes with both a Windows and macOS version, so you don't have to worry about system compatibility issues.

See below for detailed recovery instructions.

How to retrieve files: a step by step guide

Step 1: connect your digital voice recorder to a computer.

If your digital voice recorder uses internal flash memory, find a USB cable and connect. If your files are saved on a MicroSD card, load it to a card reader or adapter and then plug it into your computer's USB port.

Step 2: Get Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery and install the program on your computer. Make sure you select the right version.

Step 3: open the application and click the big blue button "Recover Photo, Audio & Video" located in the center. Then follow the rest steps and let it scan your device drive.

Step 4: preview found items after the scan. Then recover and save your desired files.

That's it. The whole process usually takes a few minutes only.

If the above guide doesn't work out

As explained previously, chances of recovering your voice recordings are not 100% due to the nature of data recovery. Theoretically, if part of the data gets written over, then that part will become unrecoverable. There might be some other reasons that undermine your recovery chances. If by any means the above guide didn't work out, and those files are significant to you, your last resort would be ask a data recovery professional or turn to a data rescue center for help. Beware that such services are expensive. Do your own research first before you making phone calls or sending over your device.


Losing audio files you've spent hours recording can be upset. Fortunately, it's often quite possible to recover the data off your voice recorder as long as you act quickly. The recovery process is also relatively easy. If a file recovery program can't help, turn to a professional data recovery service for advice.

Pro tip: so you've learned the lesson, next time make sure you always back up or transfer your recordings on a timely basis. Also, don't press any buttons when the battery is low.

Cover image credit to LetsGoDigital.

Chris is a computer geek for a decade. He loved talking to computers via codes, and now he finds it more interesting communicating with the real people. He now writes everything related to computer issues and loves helping people solve problems.

4 thoughts on “Guide: Recovering Deleted Files from a Digital Voice Recorder

  1. I recorded 3 hours of audio, hit the pause button during a break and dropped the recorder. The “door open” came on. I closed the door, hit record to resume and we continued for another 20 minutes. I am assuming I must have hit the retake button, because a few days later I discovered I only had the last 20 minutes and the three hours was gone. When you hit retake, does it automatically delete what was recorded and replace it? I’m hoping I can recover something, even if 20 minutes was written over. If I could restore the other 2 hours 40 mins, it would be a tremendous help. Thank you!

    • Hi Kimberly, it’s quite possible that your previous audio (2 hours 40 mins) wasn’t actually saved to your device, thus chance to recover is slim, to be honest. But you could try to give it a scan using the guide we’ve introduced in the article. By the way, since the recording is so important to you, we also advice to contact the support team of your device provider. Maybe they have solutions. Anyway, good luck!

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