How to recover deleted photos from SD cards on Windows PC

You usually use SD cards to store your precious photos. But this widely used and convenient portable media is not immune to file losses. Incidents of accidental deletion, formatting, corruption, and virus infection, finally result in the loss of photos.

There may also be situations where you cannot access photos saved on your SD card, such as:

  • SD card asks to format before opening it
  • SD card is not detected by the computer
  • SD card is inaccessible due to some error message.

SD card checks before troubleshooting photo loss from SD card:

Do you have a write-protected SD card? If your SD card is write-protected, you may not be able to view or save image files stored on the card. To disable the write protection, slide the switch on the left side of the card up. Once the write protection is disabled, you will be able to view, edit, or save the stored image files.

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Is your reader/reader’s SD working? If the card reader or the SD reader on your laptop is faulty, Windows won’t detect the media. Try another reader or connect to a different SD card slot.

Now let us take a look at the methods to recover deleted photos from an SD card on a PC.

Perform Chkdsk command

The SD card asks if you’d like to format it in order to open it. The chkdsk process scans and checks for logical errors on your SD card and fixes them.

Steps to perform Chkdsk:

  • Press Windows+ R keys to open the Run dialog box
  • Type cmd and pressEnter
  • Right-click cmd and select Run as Administrator
  • Type command line chkdsk > SD card drive letter>:/r/f  (e.g., <chkdsk E: /r/f>, where E is the SD card drive letter). This repairs the file system errors and scans for bad sectors as well.
  • Press Enter
  • Once the process finishes, restart your computer.

Reinstall the driver

If your Windows PC fails to detect your SD card, but the card is accessible on other devices and computers, reinstall the driver. If Windows throws an error, ‘Please insert the disk into drive E:’, when you connect the SD card, also try this method.

Steps to reinstall the driver:

  • Right-click on My Computer/ This PC
  • Follow Manage > Device Manager
  • Double-click Disk Drives
  • Right-click on the removable drive. Click Uninstall
  • Click OK
  • Disconnect your SD card from the PC
  • Restart your PC

Now reconnect the SD card, your windows computer should detect it now.

Assign a new drive letter

If a storage card’s drive letter does not appear in your computer’s list of drives, you can assign it a new drive letter.

Steps to assign a drive letter:

  • Connect the SD card to the PC
  • Open the Run dialogue box using Windows +R key
  • Type MSC and press Enter
  • In the left pane, under Storage select Disk Management
  • Right-click the drive you want to assign a letter to and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths
  • In the dialog box click on Change
  • Check in and Assign the following drive letter
  • Choose the letter you want to give from the drop-box and click OK

Now disconnect and reconnect the SD card. The external drive letter should appear in the list of drives.

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