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.
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.
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.
|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.
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.
|Recuva Free||Available without Professional features|
🏆 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.
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).
|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|
🏆 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.
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.
|Free trial||Can recover up to 2GB of data||Can recover up to 2GB of data|
🏆 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.
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.
💰 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.
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.
For Personal Users:
|Trial version||Recover up to 1 GB data|
|Personal Monthly Subscription||$69.00|
|Personal Annual Subscription||$89.00|
For Business Users:
🏆 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.
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.
💰 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.
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:
|🧰 Software||🔄 Latest update||📄 Supported files||⚙️ System requirements||💸 Pricing|
|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||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||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||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||Version 18.104.22.1689||Most standard file formats||Windows 11/10/8/7/Vista/XP||Freeware|
|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||Version 7.1 (July 7, 2019)||Recognizes more than 480 file extensions||Windows, macOS, Linux (all newer versions)||Free and open-source|
Here’s how it works:
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:
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:
The best SD data recovery software applications for Windows are:
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:
SD cards can become corrupted in a variety of ways. Some of the most common to be aware of include:
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:
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.