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 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:Jun 2, 2023
David Morelo
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sd card recovery software

What is the Best SD Card Recovery Software in 2023?

  1. Disk Drill SD Card Recovery: The best data recovery software overall
  2. Recuva: The best free solution for Windows
  3. R-Studio: The best data recovery software for pros
  4. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard: The most user-friendly interface
  5. IObit Undelete: The easiest-to-use SD card recovery software

Disk Drill comes on top among the most popular data recovery tools we have today. It’s economical, easy to use, neatly designed, and most importantly, it has a high recovery rate. On top of all that, it also comes with special features such as storage cleanup, backup, and data protection.

1. Disk Drill SD Card Recovery (Windows & macOS)

🔄 Latest update: Version 5.2.1215 (April 30, 2023)
⚙️ Supported files: Over 400 file formats
📄 System requirements: macOS 10.15.7–13.x / Windows 10/11 64-bit

Disk Drill SD Card Recovery

Disk Drill stands out from the crowd as the best solution to the widespread problem of SD card data loss. That's because it offers a perfectly balanced blend of advanced recovery features, excellent usability, and fantastic value.


The application supports over 400 file formats, and it can recognize the vast majority of commonly and not-so-commonly used raw photo and video file formats, including r2 (Canon raw version 2), cr3 (Canon raw version 3), nef (Nikon raw image file), nrw (Nikon raw image file), and r3d (Red digital camera company raw video file).


Regardless of if you have a smaller SD card with the FAT32 file system or a newer SDHC/SDXC card with a large exFAT partition, Disk Drill can apply its advanced data recovery algorithms to restore lost files with the original folder structure and file names intact. Disk Drill can also work with corrupted and raw SD cards that are not available in File Explorer/Finder.


Disk Drill is a freemium software application that lets its users preview an unlimited number of files and recover up to 500 MB of data (Windows version only) for free. Disk Drill's developers, CleverFiles, frequently update their product to keep it bug-free and to ensure consistently great performance.


Included for free with Disk Drill are multiple extra tools. When recovering data from a corrupted SD card, you can use the byte-to-byte backup tool to create a complete image of the card so that you have a secure backup of all its contents in case the corruption spreads and prevents the card from being readable.

Pros:

  • Supports most raw photo and video file formats
  • Can scan even corrupted and raw SD cards
  • Recovers up to 500 MB of data for free (Windows only)
  • Comes with multiple free extra tools
  • Simple one-click approach to SD card recovery
  • 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

🏆 Best for: Disk Drill should be the first choice for all Windows and Mac users who need to recover lost data from an SD card.

2. Recuva (Windows)

🔄 Latest update: v1.53.2083 (June 15, 2022)
📄 Supported files: Supports only basic file formats
⚙️ System requirements: Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP

Recuva sd card recovery

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.


There are many reasons why Recuva ranks second after Disk Drill, but the biggest one is the fact that it supports only basic image, video, audio, and document file formats. Do you need to recover raw photos captured by your digital camera or GoPro? Then you're out of luck because Recuva supports only a small handful of raw photo and video file formats—and some quite poorly.


But where Recuva falls short in terms of file format support, it more than makes up for with its simplicity and ease of use. The application offers two modes of operation, Advanced and Wizard, with the former one aimed at more experienced users and the latter one intended for complete beginners.


Recuva even comes with a free secure overwrite feature. You can use this feature to permanently erase sensitive files from your SD card to prevent them from ever being recovered with Recuva or any other SD card recovery software.


Pros:

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

📛 Cons:

  • Automatic updates only in the paid version
  • Can't recover most raw photo and video file formats

💰 Pricing:

Recuva Free Available without Professional features
Recuva Professional $19.95

🏆 Best for: Since Recuva’s free version allows for unlimited data recovery, it’s an excellent choice for people who want to retrieve more common file types from their SD card without shelling out money.

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

🔄 Latest update: Version 9.2.191144 (March 29, 2023)
⚙️ 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 sd card data recovery

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. The advanced capabilities of this tried-and-tested tool make it especially suitable for recovering corrupted SD cards, which the tool can scan and recover without relying on an intact file system.


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. The least expensive R-Studio license (R-Studio FAT), costs $49.99, and it supports only the FAT family of file systems, including exFAT. Because FAT32 and exFAT are the most commonly used file systems for SD cards, you might be able to avoid spending considerably more money on a less limited R-Studio license.


Sure, you won't be able to, for example, create a sector map, run R-Studio in portable mode, or use the built-in hex editor, but most regular users don't really need these and other advanced users when recovering data from SD cards. Just know that a separate license is necessary for each operating system supported by R-Studio (Windows, macOS, and Linux).


Pros:

  • Recognizes all major file systems
  • Can scan corrupted SD cards
  • Runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • The least expensive license is enough for most SD card recovery jobs

📛 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

🏆 Best for: R-Studio is the optimal choice for experienced users that are looking for a more sophisticated tool to assist them in recovering important files from their memory card.

4. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Windows & macOS)

🔄 Latest update: Version 15.8.1 (December 8, 2022)
📄 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, gathering quite a few positive online reviews praising its reliable performance and polished user interface, among other things. Indeed, the application 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 and Mac users.


While EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard deserves all the praise it has received, it should also be criticized for its shortcomings. One of the main drawbacks is the weak translation of its user interface to other languages besides English, which can make it difficult for non-English speaking users to navigate and use the software effectively.


Another issue is the accuracy of the scan progress indicator. We have no idea what's going on behind the scenes, but the accuracy of the scan progress indicator is sometimes so bad that a random number generator would do a better job. That's a shame because EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a fairly expensive subscription-based data recovery solution and quirks like this shouldn't be tolerated by its developers.


Pros:

  • Reliable and well-rated
  • The free version can recover up to 2 GB of data if you share the software on your Facebook or Twitter (500 MB if not)
  • 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
  • The subscription model is more expensive than competing solutions
  • Lists irrecoverable files as recoverable

💰 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

🏆 Best for: EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a great pick for users who want a quality SD card recovery solution with a user-friendly interface and are willing to pay extra to get it.

5. 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 memory card recovery

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. If you need to recover less used file formats, such as raw photos or videos, then IObit Undelete will leave you utterly disappointed.


In addition to potentially delivering disappointing results, IObit Undelete will keep you waiting for them longer than many competing SD card recovery solutions because its scanning algorithms are slow. Worst of all, you won't even know if you're recovering the right files until the very end because a preview feature isn't available.


Pros:

  • One-click recovery process
  • Portable mode
  • 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


🏆 Best for: IObit Undelete’s greatest strength lies in its simplicity, allowing you to jumpstart the recovery process with just a single click. This makes it a great tool for novice users who don’t know much about data recovery.

6. MiniTool Power Data Recovery (Windows)

🔄 Latest update: V11.5 (March 14, 2023)
⚙️ Supported files: Supports over 100 file types
📄 System requirements: Windows 11/10/8/8.1/7

MiniTool Power Data Recovery for sd card

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 file types, including documents, images, video, audio, archives, and other files.


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.


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.


By scanning only a specific location, such as a single DCIM sub-folder, you can save plenty of valuable time compared with how long it would take to scan the entire SD card. In fact, we recommend you avoid scanning your entire SD card using MiniTool Power Data Recovery unless absolutely necessary because its scanning progress is painfully slow and requires a lot of processing power.


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 a file previewer
  • Expensive subscriptions
  • You don't get many features for your money
  • Slow scanning process that consumes a lot of computer resources

💰 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

🏆 Best for: MiniTool Power Data Recovery is an excellent choice if you’re planning on recovering data from a particular directory since this program is one of the only recovery tools that has such a feature.

7. Photorec (Windows, macOS, Linux)

🔄 Latest update: Version 7.1 (July 7, 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

PhotoRec sd card recovery software

PhotoRec (together with its sister application TestDisk) is a command-line data recovery software for Windows, macOS, and Linux that's distributed for free under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL v2+). That means you can not only use it to perform SD card recovery without any limitations, but you can also poke around the source code and make modifications to it—if you know how, of course.


Regular computer users often find PhotoRec to be intimidating because of its command-line user interface and total lack of basic usability features, such as the ability to preview files before their recovery.


PhotoRec really isn't a great choice for regular users when compared with a highly polished data recovery software application like Disk Drill, but more advanced users are able to appreciate its file system repair capabilities and its decent FAT, exFAT, NTFS, and ext2/ext3/ext4 recovery performance.


Pros:

  • Multi-platform
  • Completely free open-source software application
  • Capable of repairing file system issues

📛 Cons:

  • Command-line user interface is difficult to navigate and can contribute to data recovery failure
  • Can't preview recoverable files
  • Last updated in 2019

💰 Pricing: Free and open-source


🏆 Best for: PhotoRec is the top option for advanced Windows, macOS, and Linux users looking to recover memory card data without paying.

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.
  • 🤗 Ease 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 5.2.1215 (April 30, 2023) Over 400 file formats macOS 10.15.7–13.x / Windows 10/11 64-bit From $89 (free version available)
Recuva logo Recuva v1.53.2083 (June 15, 2022) 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 9.2.191144 (March 29, 2023) Several hundred file formats Windows, macOS, Linux (all newer versions) From $49.99 (free version available)
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard logo EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Version 15.8.1 (December 8, 2022) Supports over 1,000 file formats Windows 2000 or newer / macOS 10.15 ~ 10.9 From $69.95 (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 V11.5 (March 14, 2023) Supports over 100 file types Windows 11/10/8/8.1/7 From $69 (free version available)
PhotoRec logo PhotoRec Version 7.1 (July 7, 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.
sd card recovery
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: If you’ve lost data from an SD card, it’s imperative that you stop using it to ensure any new data doesn’t overwrite the data you’re trying to recover. Until you’re in a position where you can recover the lost or deleted files, keep the SD card unplugged from any storage media. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by 7 Data Recovery Team

The best SD data recovery software applications for Windows are:

  1. Disk Drill SD Recovery;
  2. Recuva;
  3. R-Studio;
  4. PhotoRec;
  5. MiniTool;

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.

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

  • Removing the memory card while an image is being transferred to the device;
  • Turning off your camera before the image has been completely written to the card;
  • Batteries running out during image transfer to a computer;
  • Exposure to malware;
  • Removing a card from its mobile device while some of its files are open on a computer;
  • Using a card that is formatted incorrectly for your device;
  • Formatting a card on your computer rather than in the camera can lead to corruption and compatibility issues;
  • Using a card in multiple devices without reformatting it;
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The card might not have been assigned a drive letter which will make it invisible to the operating system.
  • 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.

Disk Drill 5
  • REQUIREMENTS
    Windows 10+, 28 MB / MacOS 10.15.7+, 84.5 MB disk space
  • AVERAGE USER RANK
    4.7 by 731 users
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  • NEWEST RELEASE
    Version 5.0.732 , released on 14th Nov, 2022
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    TOTAL DOWNLOADS
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    PRO CLIENTS
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How Disk Drill serves other users
  • If you've ever accidentally deleted a project or damaged a hard drive, you know how difficult it can be to get that data back. Disk Drill is the kind of magic you need. Make it a part of your toolkit. You won't be disappointed
  • «Disk Drill is a practical and intuitive utility that can successfully assist you in regaining access to lost or damaged files from a variety of disk or file system types, making it quite worthy for considering, should you be in the market for such a tool.» by Marina Dan
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