Free SD Card Recovery Software

SD card recovery software comes to the rescue when an unfortunate mistake, software error, or some other factor causes you to lose important data to disappear from your SD card. Since choosing the best SD card recovery software can be difficult, we’ve done the research for you, so you can simply pick the solution you like the most and recover memory card data without any delay.

last update icon Updated on:Dec 2, 2021
David Morelo
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free sd card recovery

1. Disk Drill (Windows & macOS)

Latest update: Version 4.3.586 (June 17, 2021)
Supported files: Over 400 file formats
System requirements: Mac OS X 10.11.6+ / Windows 7 SP1+

Disk Drill

Disk Drill stands out from the crowd as the best free SD card recovery software currently available, allowing you to preview an unlimited number of files and recover up to 500 MB of data (Windows version only) for free.


It truly delivers on its promise of hassle-free one-click recovery by hiding all the technical complexity associated with SD card recovery behind the “Recovery” button. With a single click, you can retrieve over 400 different file types from any SD card (micro, mini, regular).


Disk Drill is frequently updated to keep it bug-free and reliable. The latest version includes many free extra disk tools, allowing you to back up your data, find duplicate files, and more without having to install any additional software.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Supports all common SD card file formats
  • Recovers up to 500 MB of data for free
  • Comes with multiple free extra tools
  • Frequently updated

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support the Linux operating system

Pricing:

Disk Drill Basic Free
Disk Drill PRO $89.00
Disk Drill Enterprise $499
Competitive Upgrade 50% OFF

2. Recuva (Windows)

Latest update: Recuva v1.53.1087 (June 07, 2016)
Supported files: Supports only basic file formats
System requirements: Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP

Recuva

If you’re a Windows user and are looking for a straightforward free SD card recovery tool that you can use to perform basic data recovery jobs without spending a single dollar, then Recuva is an excellent choice.


You can install Recuva on any PC running Windows XP or newer, and its user interface is so simple that you’ll be able to figure it out in seconds. As far as performance goes, Recuva can confidently recover pictures, music, documents, videos, emails, and other file types that are commonly used by Windows users.


Unlike Disk Drill, it sometimes struggles with newer and more exotic file formats because it was last updated in 2016. Since the original developers are no longer involved in its development, it’s unlikely that Recuva will receive a major update anytime soon.


Pros:

  • Portable version available
  • Unlimited free recovery
  • Simple user interface

Cons:

  • No updates since 2016
  • Automatic updates only in the paid version

Pricing:

Recuva Free Available without Professional features
Recuva Professional $19.95

3. R-Studio (Windows, macOS, Linux)

Latest update: Version 8.16.180499 (March 24, 2021)
Supported files: Several hundred file formats
System requirements: Windows 11, 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP/2000 or Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003 / Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or newer / Any kernel 2.6+ Linux distribution capable of installing .rpm or .deb packages

R-Studio

R-Studio aims to meet the needs of data recovery professionals looking for the most feature-packed data recovery software for SD card recovery available. While the application is a free download, you won’t be able to recover files larger than 256 KB with it. To do that, you’ll need to purchase a license.


So, what does R-Studio offer that Disk Drill and other easy-to-use memory card recovery software for PC and macOS doesn’t? Several things, including a built-in hex editor and support for damaged RAID recovery, to give you two examples.


If these and other advanced features are what you’re looking for, then we encourage you give R-Studio a try. Just know that the data recovery process itself isn’t the most intuitive, but that’s to be expected from a professional tool.


Pros:

  • Advanced features
  • Support for networked storage devices
  • Recognizes all major Windows, Mac, and Linux file systems
  • Flexible pricing structure

Cons:

  • Too difficult for regular home users
  • Each platform requires a separate license
  • The free version can’t recover files larger than 256 KB

Pricing:

Product Windows macOS Linux
Free version Recover files less than 256 KB in size Recover files less than 256 KB in size Recover files less than 256 KB in size
R-Studio FAT $39.99 - -
R-Studio NTFS $47.99 - -
R-Studio $63.99 $63.99 $63.99
R-Studio Network $143.99 $143.99 $143.99
R-Studio Technician $719.20 $719.20 $719.20

4. IObit Undelete (Windows)

Latest update: Version 1.0.0.369
Supported files: Most standard document, video, audio, and graphics file formats
System requirements: Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP

IObit Undelete

Just like Disk Drill, Recuva, and other beginner-friendly memory card recovery software tools, IObit Undelete stands out with its one-click approach to data recovery. It also offers a handy portable mode that lets you run it on any Windows machine without installing it first.


Where it does fall behind higher-ranking tools is its data recovery performance. Simply put, IObit Undelete can only recover standard document, video, audio, and graphics file formats, and it can’t even preview them.


There are also no advanced options to speak of, so don’t even bother downloading IObit Undelete if you consider yourself to be a power user. In such a case, download R-Studio or other similar SD card recovery software instead.


Pros:

  • Very easy to use
  • Portable mode
  • One-click recovery process
  • Small download size

Cons:

  • Lack of advanced options
  • Can’t preview files before recovery
  • Limited file format support
  • Doesn’t seem to be updated anymore

Pricing: Freeware

5. MiniTool Power Data Recovery (Windows)

Latest update: Version 11 (October 8, 2021)
Supported files: Supports over 100 file types
System requirements: Windows 11/10/8/8.1/7

MiniTool Power Data Recovery

MiniTool Power Data Recovery is a versatile data recovery solution that recovers over 100 file types, while offering the ability to preview up to 70 different ones, including documents, images, video, audio, archives, and other files.


One special feature offered by MiniTool Power Data Recovery that no other memory card recovery software for PC featured on this page offers is the ability to recover files from a specific directory, such as the desktop folder or the Recycle Bin. This feature can save you valuable time because it frees you from having to scan the entire drive.


Unfortunately, the free version of MiniTool Power Data Recovery, which can recover up to 1 GB of data for free, can’t actually preview any recoverable files without you separately installing the file previewer feature.


Pros:

  • Frequently updated
  • Recover up to 1 GB of data for free
  • 24×7 technical support
  • Can recover files from a specific folder

Cons:

  • The free version doesn’t include file previewer
  • Expensive subscriptions

Pricing:


For Personal Users:

Trial version Recover up to 1 GB data
Personal Monthly Subscription $69.00
Personal Annual Subscription $89.00
Personal Ultimate $99.00

For Business Users:

Business Standard $119.00
Business Deluxe $199.00
Business Enterprise $399.00
Business Technician $499.00

6. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Windows & macOS)

Latest update: Version 14.4 (September 24, 2021)
Supported files: Supports over 1,000 file formats
System requirements: Windows 2000 or newer / macOS 10.15 ~ 10.9

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard has been around for a long time, and it has gathered countless positive online reviews praising its reliable performance and polished user interface, among other things. Indeed, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard makes it easy to recover files from SD cards of all sizes and types, making it one of the best memory card recovery software for PC.


The main reason why we can’t rank it any higher is the fact it was last updated in 2020. In contrast, Disk Drill has received a major update this month, and updates keep coming at a steady pace, ensuring that users don’t have to deal with annoying bugs that compromise their experience and affect data recovery performance.


Pros:

  • Reliable and well-rated
  • The free version can recovery 2 GB of data
  • Support for over 1,000 file formats
  • Recover data from various data loss situations

Cons:

  • Scan time is always irrelevant
  • Windows and Mac versions require a separate license
  • Last updated in 2020

Pricing:

Subscription type Windows macOS
Free trial Can recover up to 2GB of data Can recover up to 2GB of data
Monthly subscription $69.95 $89.95
Annual subscription $99.95 $119.95
Lifetime Upgrades $149.95 $169.95

7. TestDisk (Windows, macOS, Linux)

Latest update: Version (July 10, 2019)
Supported files: Recognizes more than 480 file extensions (about 300 file families)
System requirements: Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP, Windows Server 2016/2012/2008/2003 / Any recent version of macOS / Linux kernel 2.6.18 or later

TestDisk

If you’re wondering how to recover data from SD cards using the Command Prompt or Terminal, TestDisk is your answer. This memory card recovery software for PC doesn’t have a graphical user interface, so you can run it on just about any operating system.


It’s also completely free and open-source, which means that you can recover an unlimited amount of data without running into any limits. That said, we don’t recommend you download this data recovery software for PC unless you consider yourself to be at least somewhat advanced when it comes to information technology.


Mastering TestDisk requires a lot more effort than learning to use Disk Drill, Recuva, and other straightforward graphical SD card recovery software applications. If you’re not willing to commit, you better use something else.


Pros:

  • Multi-platform
  • Open-source software application
  • Capable of repairing file system issues

Cons:

  • Command-line user interface
  • Last updated in 2019

Pricing: Free and open-source

How We Selected the Best Tools for SD Card Data Recovery

All SD card data recovery tools offer different features and capabilities, not to mention how wildly they can differ in terms of performance. When comparing them, we pay attention to the following criteria:


  • 👁️ Data recovery results: Does the SD card recovery tool actually deliver the data recovery results it promises? Unfortunately, some tools claim to recover thousands of file formats but, in reality, fail to retrieve even the most basic ones.
  • 💡 Extra features and capabilities: Does the tool come with any extra features that increase its value? Good examples include built-in data protection and backup capabilities, disk health checking, and so on.
  • ☎️ Customer support: How friendly and responsive is the customer support staff? There’s nothing worse than encountering an annoying bug and having no one to report it to.
  • 🤗 Easy of use: Do you need to read a lengthy manual before you can use the SD card data recovery tool? These days, there’s no reason for SD card recovery tools to be complicated and unintuitive, and there’s definitely no reason for you to waste time on tools that fail at basic usability.
  • 💲 Price: Is the tool offered as a freeware application, or does it cost money? Depending on your budget, you may gravitate toward free SD card data recovery tools, and that’s perfectly alright. Just know that paid solutions are typically more reliable and deliver better results.

Quick comparison of the best free SD card recovery tools

🧰 Software 🔄 Latest update 📄 Supported files ⚙️ System requirements 💸 Pricing
Disk Drill logo Disk Drill Version 4.3.586 (June 17, 2021) Over 400 file formats Mac OS X 10.11.6+ / Windows 7 SP1+ From $89 (free version available)
Recuva logo Recuva Recuva v1.53.1087 (June 07 2016) Supports only basic file formats Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP $19.95 (free version available)
R-Studio logo R-Studio Version 8.16.180499 (Mar 24, 2021) Several hundred file formats Windows, macOS, Linux (all newer versions) From $49.99 (free version available)
IObit Undelete logo IObit Undelete Version 1.0.0.369 Most standard file formats Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP Freeware
MiniTool Data Recovery logo MiniTool Data Recovery Version 11 (October 8, 2021) Supports over 100 file types Windows 11/10/8/8.1/7 From $69 (free version available)
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard logo EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Version 14.4 (September 24, 2021) Supports over 1,000 file formats Windows 2000 or newer / macOS 10.15 ~ 10.9 From $69.95 (free version available)
TestDisk logo TestDisk Version 7.2 (July 10, 2019) Recognizes more than 480 file extensions Windows, macOS, Linux (all newer versions) Free and open-source

How to Recover an SD Card with Disk Drill

There’s a good reason why we’ve picked Disk Drill as the best SD card recovery software: using it to restore SD card files from SanDisk®, Samsung®, Kingston®, Transcend®, Lexar®, PNY®, and other memory cards could hardly be any easier.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill on your computer. You will need to provide administrator credentials during installation.
  2. Connect the SD card to the computer and launch Disk Drill.
  3. Choose the SD card from the disk list presented by the application.
  4. Scan the card with Disk Drill’s advanced algorithms to search for lost and deleted files and folders.
  5. Preview the recoverable files and select the ones you want to recover.
  6. Recover your files to a new storage location that is not on the affected SD card.
That’s right! It takes just six simple steps to retrieve data from SD cards using Disk Drill, and you would be hard-pressed to get better recovery results using any other tool.
Pro Tip: Corruption can occur as a result of human error, malware, and unexpected power failure. When this happens, your SD card can become unusable, preventing access to the files stored on it. Instead of formatting your SD card and losing all of your data, you can fix your SD card and restore access to your files. Read more.

What Types of Memory Cards Exist?

SD cards are just one of multiple types of memory cards supported by modern electronic devices. Let’s take a brief look at each major type to understand why it exists and what it has to offer:


  • microSD: Characterized by their tiny size, microSD cards dominate the market because they offer an excellent blend of portability (15.0 × 11.0 × 1.0 mm) and storage capacity (up to 1 TB thanks to the SDXC standard).
  • miniSD: Created in 2003 by SanDisk, this memory card type was created to be a small form factor extension to the SD card standard. You won’t encounter miniSD cards often because the standard has been largely superseded by microSD cards.
  • SD card: Standard SD cards measure 32.0 × 24.0 × 2.1 mm, and they have been around since 1999. These days, they are widely used in digital cameras and other devices that can accommodate their somewhat larger size. Regular SD cards are up to 2 GB large, but newer standards like SDHC, SDXC, and SDUC allow for much large storage capacities.
  • CF card: Also known as CompactFlash cards, these flash memory mass storage devices were first manufactured by SanDisk in 1994. Their latest generation supports up to 128 PB of storage capacity and read and write speeds of 1 Gbit/s.
  • xD picture: As the name suggests, xD picture cards were intended as storage devices for digital cameras and various video recording devices, but they were eventually phased out in favor of SD cards.

Common Problems with SD Cards That Lead to Data Loss

Data loss can happen for many different reasons, and you should understand at least the ones that are most common so that you can better avoid them:


  • 🗑️ Formatting: Clicking the Format button lets you quickly and easily delete all data stored on an SD card and prepare it for another device. But if you fail to double-check that the SD card is really empty, you could instantly lose thousands of important files in one go.
  • 😲 User error: We all make mistakes, but some of our mistakes can lead to data loss, such as accidentally clicking the Delete button instead of the Rename button. If you notice your mistake soon enough and don’t wait too long before using data recovery software for SD card recovery, you should be able to see your files again.
  • ⚠️ Corruption: Software bugs, malware, and other factors can cause data stored on an SD card to become corrupted, unreadable, and, in extreme cases, even inaccessible. Fortunately, corrupted SD card recovery can be performed both using free SD card recovery software and built-in tools.
  • 🔨 Physical damage: SD cards are small, fragile, and extremely difficult to repair once heavily damaged. While an SD card won’t break if you drop it on the floor, you can easily snap it in half just by forcefully inserting it the wrong way. Unfortunately, it’s typically not possible to recover a physically damaged SD card at home.
  • 👾 Malfunction: Modern SD cards are highly reliable, and it’s extremely rare for them to just stop working suddenly. But just because something is rare doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen to you, which is why you should always back up your files to a safe location.

File Types That Can Be Recovered from SD Cards

SD cards are used in all kinds of electronic devices, from Android smartphones to digital cameras to satellite navigation systems. As such, they store many different file types, including:
video files
AVI, FLV (Flash video), WMV (Windows Media Video), MOV (Apple QuickTime movie), MP4 (MPEG-4 video), WebM, MKV (Matroska Video)
music files
Music
MP3 (MPEG Audio Stream, Layer III), OGG, AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), WMA (Windows Media audio files), FLAC
image files
JPG/JPEG, PNG (Portable Network Graphic), BMP, TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), PSD, EPS, AI (Adobe Illustrator), RAW
document files
Document
DOCX (Microsoft Word), PDF (Portable Document Format), PPTX (Microsoft PowerPoint), XLSX (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet)
raw files
RAW Files
DNG (Digital Negative), ARW (Sony Digital Camera), BRAW (Blackmagic raw video format), R3D (Redcode Raw video image)
graphic files
Graphic
AI (Adobe Illustrator), ANI (Windows Animated Cursor), AEP (After Effects Project), BLEND (Blender 3D Data file), CDR (CorelDRAW)

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by 7 Data Recovery Team

Backing up SD card data is easy—the most difficult part is remembering to do so on a regular basis. The good news is that there are various data backup tools that make the process quick and easy. For example, you can use the byte-to-byte backup feature included in Disk Drill, which lets you create a single image containing all data stored on your SD card:

  1. Connect your SD card to your computer.
  2. Insert the SD card you want to back up into your computer’s memory card reader.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select the Drive Backup feature.
  4. Pick the partition you would like to back up and click the Byte-to-byte Backup button.
  5. Specify the backup destination and confirm.
  1. Change the card's drive letter. You may need to manually assign a drive letter to your SD card.
  2. Try a different USB port on the same or another computer. It could be that the device's connector is no good or that the port on your computer is bad.
  3. Reinstall the software drivers. This can resolve many issues with connectivity. Remove the drivers, restart your machine, and reattach the device to perform the reinstall.
  4. Fix an SD card without formatting by running the chkdsk E: /f command where E is your drive letter.
  5. Fix an SD card using Windows Explorer by formatting the card. The Quick format should be sufficient to resolve the problem.
  6. Fix an SD card with Windows CMD by executing diskpart to re-partition the card.
  7. Use a third-party tool like Disk Drill to recover your data.
  8. Dealing with permanent damage can be avoided if you exercise care when connecting and removing the card from its slot. In cases of extreme damage, there is little that can be done to recover the data from the card.

SD cards can become corrupted in a variety of ways. Some of the most common to be aware of include:

  1. Removing the memory card while an image is being transferred to the device;
  2. Turning off your camera before the image has been completely written to the card;
  3. Batteries running out during image transfer to a computer;
  4. Exposure to malware;
  5. Removing a card from its mobile device while some of its files are open on a computer;
  6. Using a card that is formatted incorrectly for your device;
  7. Formatting a card on your computer rather than in the camera can lead to corruption and compatibility issues;
  8. Using a card in multiple devices without reformatting it;
  9. Taking photos when battery life is low.

Avoiding these situations will help keep your card in good working condition.

There are a number of reasons that your SD card may not be visible to your operating system. Some of the most common causes are:

  1. Your card may be write-protected. If the card is write-protected, it may not be able to be read by your computer. Check the card and physically disable the write-protection switch.
  2. The card may be formatted in such a way that it can only be recognized by the device that performed the operation. Try connecting the device to your computer rather than using a card reader.
  3. The card might not have been assigned a drive letter which will make it invisible to the operating system.
  4. There may be physical problems with the connection due to bad contacts on the card or card reader. You may also be faced with a bad USB port.

For you to have the best chance at recovering photos from a damaged or corrupted SD card, you should install a quality data recovery program and have it scan your SD card for you. Once the scan is complete, most programs can show you the different files it’s capable of retrieving.

If you’d like to recover photos from a memory card but aren’t keen on using software, there are a few methods depending on what device the memory card belongs to. If it’s for an Android mobile device, then it’s best to recover the photos from cloud storage or a computer backup. Alternatively, you can try opening the “Gallery” app and checking if your device has the “Trash” feature. If it does, your photos might still be there after deletion.

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