Best Photo Recovery Software (Free & Paid Solutions)

Jeffrey Cochin
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recover lost photos top 5 software

Losing photos from your computer or mobile device can be devastating. Many of us take a massive amount of pictures that we want to keep for our memories or to share events with friends and family. Discovering that they are missing when you try to access them can result in stress and panic. You may, however, be worrying needlessly.

We are going to show you a number of solutions that can help you recover lost photos quickly and easily. Some are built into the Windows operating system while others are implemented through the use of data recovery software tools.

1. Disk Drill – Cheap & Effective Photo Recovery Solution

recover lost photos

Disk Drill is a flexible data recovery tool that can be used for lost picture recovery as well as any other type of file that need to be retrieved. It offers a simple path to professional-grade data recovery which can be performed by any Windows user. The inclusion of free data protection tools highlights the importance that the developers put on your valuable data.

Key Features:

  • An intuitive user interface that makes recovery a simple process
  • Recover from an emptied Recycle Bin and formatted disks
  • Recover from any disk-based storage device
  • Preview found files before recovery
  • Quick and deep scans to recover the maximum amount of data
  • Supports recovery of files in over 400 formats
  • Data protection tools included for free
  • Pause, save and resume scans
  • S.M.A.R.T. hard drive attributes information
  • 500 MB free data recovery

Price: $89 with a free trial that allow you to recover up to 500 MB of data.


Disk Drill is a comprehensive and versatile data recovery and protection tool that enables users to easily recover lost photographs as well as any other type of file. Highly recommended as your main data recovery tool.

free data recovery software Disk Drill for Windows & macOS Free Download

2. Recuva

restore lost photos

Recuva provides users with a basic file recovery tool that uses an interface similar to that of Windows File Explorer. It supports many device types including virtual hard drives.

Key Features:

  • Advanced file recovery
  • Premium support
  • Virtual hard drive support
  • Deep scan mode
  • Recovery from damaged or formatted disks
  • Automatic updates
  • Securely delete files

Price: $19.95. A freeware version with limited capabilities is also available.


Recuva is a useful tool for data recovery that does not provide the same intuitive interface as some other solutions. The free trial version allows for unlimited data recovery.

3. PhotoRec

lost picture recovery

PhotoRec is a versatile recovery tool that uses a menu-driven command-line interface to interact with users. It demands a greater degree of knowledge to operate effectively than the other solutions discussed in this article. PhotoRec is not the right tool for the casual computer user who needs to perform data recovery. It is very flexible as it recovers files regardless of the underlying file system.

Key Features:

  • Supports many operating systems including Windows, Linux, and macOS
  • Open source program that can be modified at will
  • Filesystem agnostic recovery 
  • Can repair severely damaged files

Price: Freeware.


PhotoRec can be useful for experienced computer users who need a versatile recovery tool. Its open source nature and ability to run on any operating system will appeal to users who are familiar with the technical details of data storage.

4. Stellar Photo Recovery

retrieve photos

Another paid photo recovery solution is this offering from Stellar. When you purchase the product you are instantly sent an email with a link to the application. It recovers lost and deleted photos and files in many different data formats. The tool provides a preview of recoverable data and shows the estimated time it will take to complete scanning for lost files.

Key Features:

  • Repairs corrupt photos and videos
  • Previews all recoverable files
  • Recovers files from many types of storage devices
  • Displays estimated recovery time
  • User-friendly interface

Price: $69.99 for a 1-year license. The free trial of the tool allows you to preview recoverable data.


Stellar Photo Recovery is a quality data recovery application. One major drawback is the subscription method which requires you to purchase a license every year.

5. RecoverIt

recover picture

RecoverIt claims to be able to recover files in over 1000 different file formats from any type of disk-based storage device. It can help you restore files deleted from an emptied Recycle Bin. The application offers extensive filtering of search results to minimize scanning time. It offers a user-friendly interface with which to recover your lost or deleted data.

Key Features:

  • Extensive search filters
  • Pause, save and resume scans
  • User-friendly interface
  • Recovers over 1000 file types
  • Restores data from any disk-based storage media

Price: $59.95 for a 1-year license. A free trial enables you to recover 100 MB of data.


RecoverIt is a serviceable data recovery tool that will help you restore your deleted data easily. It is hampered by its yearly subscription model. You can obtain a lifetime license at a substantially higher price than that of the yearly option.

Best Photo Recovery Software Compared


Disk Drill



Stellar Photo Recovery








Trial recovery limit

500 MB

No Limit



100 MB

Preview recoverable data






Data protection tools

SMART, Recovery Vault and disk backup included for free





Windows OS Support

Windows XP, Vista, 7,8 and 10

Windows XP, Vista, 7,8 and 10

Windows XP, Vista, 7,8 and 10

Windows XP, Vista, 7,8 and 10

Windows XP, Vista, 7,8 and 10







Need an Alternative Method? Try to Restore Lost Photos Without Software

Here are some methods that you can try to undelete lost photographs on your Windows machine without using data recovery software.

recover lost photos via recycle bin

Check the Recycle Bin

You should always check the Recycle Bin first when searching for lost data on a Windows machine. It holds recently deleted files which can easily be recovered.

To restore lost photos from the Recycle Bin, you need to:

  1. Open the Recycle bin by double-clicking or right-clicking and selecting Open.
  2. Choose the image to be restored.
  3. Right-click on the picture and choose Restore.restore lost photos with recycle bin

This method will not work if you have emptied the Recycle Bin after deleting the photo. You will need to use data recovery software to retrieve photos if the Bin has been emptied.

lost picture recovery with previous versions

Restoring from a previous version of a file

There may be a previous version of the deleted files saved by the operating system.

To restore a deleted photo from a previous version, you need to:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Find the folder which contained the file that you wish to recover.
  3. Right-click and select Restore previous versions from the menu.
  4. Select the version you want recovered.
  5. Click the Restore button to restore the previous version of the photo.retrieve photos via previous versions

For this method to work, there needs to be a previous version for the OS to recover. If that’s not the case, data recovery software will need to be employed.

recover picture via backup

Try to Use the Backups If You Have One

Taking backups of your important data is a computer best practice that should be followed by all users. When you have experienced a data loss situation, a backup can be instrumental in getting your files back. Restore processes vary depending on the method used to make the backups. Here is the general process that you will use.

  1. Locate the storage media containing the backup and connect it to your computer.
  2. Start the backup and recovery application.
  3. Find the files to restore and follow the instructions form the recovery program.recover lost photos via backup

If you weren’t backing up your files before experiencing data loss, now is the time to start!

The Main Reasons for Photo Loss

Photos can be lost for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common as well as tips for minimizing the chance that they will impact you.

  • Viruses and malware can lead to data loss including that of your important photos. You should always keep your antivirus software updated and be cautious of connecting your computer or devices to unverified sources that may deliver malware.
  • Human error is responsible for the majority of data loss. There is really no foolproof way to guard against accidentally making a mistake and deleting the wrong files for your system. The best advice we can offer is to be careful and double-check your work before hitting that delete button.
  • Extreme heat or excessive moisture can lead to data loss by damaging your storage media. Keeping everything in a climate-controlled environment is the best way to prevent this problem from biting you. One very strong recommendation is to keep your computer, camera, and storage devices out of a parked car that can quickly get very hot if exposed to the sun.

Advantages of Paid Data Recovery Software

Everyone likes free things. This includes software users. Sometimes a free solution can get the job done. There are, however, some compelling reasons to opt for paid data recovery software if you need to recover pictures that have been accidentally deleted or lost. They include:

  • Obtaining software updates and upgrades.
  • The possibility of technical support if problems arise.
  • The reputation of a commercial-grade developer behind the product.
  • FAQs and user guides to assist with using the product.
  • More features.

restore lost photos via disk drill

Did You Know?

Polaroid cameras were extremely popular before the age of digital photography. They took pictures that developed instantly without requiring the film to be sent to a processing center. The Polaroid company has introduced a device that uses the light emanating from your phone to create a physical copy of your digital pictures. The device offers a fast way to turn the photos on your phone into something you can pass around the kitchen table or hang on your wall.



There is no denying the fact that losing your valuable photos can be unnerving. Using the methods we have described, there is a very good chance that you can restore lost photos without any problems. Data recovery software will provide you with the best tool for getting your pics back, as it can succeed where native Windows methods fail. While any of the software packages reviewed might recover your files, we believe that Disk Drill offers the most flexible and feature-rich solution. Its extra data protection features give it additional utility that makes it stand out among its competitors.

Jeffrey Cochin
Jeff Cochin is a data management and recovery professional, who has been with 7datarecovery for nine years and has always been an essential part of the team. Jeff also works as a technical writer at Macgasm, being a first hand in testing, trying and writing about big and small tech software.
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Strong knowledge in data recovery, computer forensic and data litigation. 12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.