How to Recover Deleted Files from CF Card and Fix It

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Recover deleted files from cf cardsEven though CF cards are not nearly as popular as other types of flash memory cards, many users are desperate to learn how to perform CF card data recovery and get their lost photos, videos, documents, and other files back. In this article, we describe how to recover files from CF card on Mac and Windows and answer several common questions to help you get the best recovery results possible.

Is It Possible to Recover Deleted Data from a CF Card?

Yes, even if you’ve formatted your CF card or deleted its content, it’s possible to recover the deleted data from the CF card. In fact, the process for recovery remains largely the same regardless of how the data was lost.

However, recovery becomes impossible once the original content gets overwritten by new data. If that occurs, the outcome remains the same whether you use free CF card recovery software or opt for a paid version.

To ensure the best chances of recovery, refrain from using the CF card once you realize data is missing, and initiate the recovery process promptly.

How to Recover Deleted Files from CF Card

Losing files from a CF card can be distressing, but before you consider them gone forever, know that there’s a high chance of recovering them. By following this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll be able to retrieve your lost files using Disk Drill.

As the best CompactFlash card recovery software, Disk Drill is recognized for its unmatched combination of powerful data recovery algorithms and a remarkably user-friendly interface. This blend ensures that both beginners and advanced users can navigate its features with ease.

No matter the brand, size, or speed of your CF card, Disk Drill is equipped to handle them all. It supports hundreds of file formats, allowing you can recover almost any data you might have lost. Moreover, it comes with a free byte-to-byte backup feature (among others) that you can use to create a complete copy of your CF card before recovering your data.

Let’s delve deeper and explore a practical example of how CF card recovery is executed using Disk Drill:

Step 1. Download and Install Disk Drill

install disk drill

Start by downloading Disk Drill from its official website. While we’re demonstrating using the Windows version, note that Disk Drill is just as efficient on Mac. Make sure you have administrator privileges, as they are necessary for completing the installation and launching the software.

Step 2. Connect Your CF Card and Launch Disk Drill

disk drill desktop icon

After installing Disk Drill, insert your CF card into the computer using a suitable card reader. Wait for your computer to recognize the CF card. Once recognized, launch Disk Drill. The software will take a few moments to list all available storage devices.

Step 3. Scan the CF Card and Preview the Results

cf card scan

Select your CF card and click on the Search for lost data button. Scanning might take some time, depending on the CF card’s size and speed. However, Disk Drill provides the convenience of previewing recovery results even before the scan completes.

Step 4. Select Files for Recovery

cf card disk drill filters

Select the files you want to recover. Disk Drill makes this easy with its preview feature, which lets you see previews of images, videos, documents, and other files before you actually recover them. You can also activate many different filters to, for example, focus only on specific file formats, file sizes, or dates.

Step 5. Recover Selected Files to a Safe Destination

destination select cf card

Once you’ve chosen the files you wish to recover, click the Recover button located at the bottom-right of the Disk Drill interface. A dialog box will prompt you to choose a destination for the recovered files. It’s crucial to select a location different from the CF card to prevent potential data overwriting. Ideally, choose a location on your computer’s internal hard drive or an external storage device.

What to Do if CF Card Is Corrupted?

CF cards can become corrupted for a number of different reasons, ranging from improper use to software bugs. Before you can perform a corrupt CF card recovery, you should fix the underlying issue using one of the methods described below.

Fix 1:Scan the CF Card Using CHKDSK (Windows)

Scan cf card with CHKDSK

CHKDSK is a handy command-line tool included with the Windows operating system. The purpose of this tool is to verify file system integrity and fix various logical file system errors, which means that you can use it to recover a corrupted CF card.

To fix a corrupted CF card using the CHKDSK command:

  1. Type “cmd” in the search box on the taskbar and select Run as administrator.
  2. Enter the command chkdsk X: /f (make sure to replace X with the letter assigned to the CF card you want to fix) and press Enter.
  3. Wait for CHKDSK to finish. The process may take several hours, depending on the size of your CF card.

The /f parameter tells CHKDSK to fix all memory card errors.

Fix 2:Repair the CF Card Using First Aid (Mac)

Check cf card errors with First Aid

If you’re a Mac user, you can repair your corrupted CF card using First Aid, a feature of the Disk Utility app whose purpose is to find and repair file system errors.

To repair a corrupted CF card using First Aid: 

  1. Launch the Disk Utility app.
  2. Select your CF card in the sidebar and click the First Aid button.
  3. Click Run, then click Continue.

Disk Utility will inform you about the state of your CF card and tell whether it has been repaired.

Fix 3:Send the CF Card to a Data Recovery Service

Data recovery service for cf cards

Alternatively, you can send the CF card to a data recovery service, and let professionals take a look at it. It’s true that professional data recovery services are considerably more expensive than DIY solutions, but sometimes they are worth the price, such as when attempting to recover lost family photos or important business documents.


Data loss from CF cards, whether due to accidental deletions or corruption, is a common issue faced by many users. Fortunately, with tools like Disk Drill, the recovery process is more accessible than one might assume. This article has equipped you with a comprehensive guide on how to recover deleted files from a CF card, and it’s now up to you to put your newly acquired skills to the test.


You can recover files from a formatted CF card using a data recovery tool like Disk Drill:
  1. Download and install Disk Drill.
  2. Connect the formatted CF card to your computer.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select the CF card.
  4. Click on "Search for lost data."
  5. Preview and recover desired files.
Not entirely. While CF cards are no longer the leading choice for many modern devices, they can still be purchased and used. However, it's worth noting that SD cards have largely overtaken them in popularity due to their smaller form factor, higher capacity, faster speeds, and versatility.
Yes, you can. However, it's not a straightforward plug-and-play situation. You would need a special adapter that allows the SD card to fit into and interface with the CF card slot.
If you find that your CF card is corrupted and inaccessible, one recommended method for Windows users is the CHKDSK tool. Mac users, on the other hand, can use the First Aid feature found in the Disk Utility app.
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