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January 29, 2009 - Dave Hecei
Digital photography has all but replaced film. No longer do we have to purchase rolls and rolls of expensive film and wait for it to be processed – let alone pay for that too. Digital cameras use small, and now inexpensive, memory cards to store the images you take. Like film, things can always go wrong. Film could get fogged if improperly exposed to light, or things could go wrong in the processing. Digital images are just as fragile, maybe even more so.
Memory cards are the first place where things can go wrong. To the camera and computer, these cards look just like a disk drive, just without any moving parts. As with any drive, the data can be lost. The card can have physical damage, it could just have a data problem, or the card could be near its end of life. Flash memory cards have a finite read/write/erase life. Another problem that could happen is simple human error. You want to erase a single image and accidentally erase the whole card. Whoops!
If you have a bad card, or if it’s accidentally formatted or erased, there is software available to rescue your images. Be careful of some of the software you find online that says things like ‘…recover all your data. Try this for free.’ Usually these programs will find all types of data and then ask you to pay money to get the full version. Most of the time these programs fail to recover anything, but then they have your money.
On the Mac side, there is a great program specifically for recovering data from flash memory cards called Data Rescue II from Prosoft Engineering, Inc. This will actually work with regular hard drives too, so it’s a great utility to have in your software collection. It lists for $99, which might seem a little expensive, but when it recovers the hundreds of photos on a 4 GB card you’ll be glad you bought it. Data Rescue II can recover photos and videos from a memory card, plus it can even rescue data from iPods and the DVD it comes on is bootable so you can use it to rescue any hard drive on your Mac.
On the PC side, there is a nice tool for recovering images on memory cards, and it’s even free. The program is called File Recovery and it’s available as a free download from a German company called PC Inspector. This program is fully functional and is meant for recovering files from flash memory cards. This is not a repair program; it can find and recover data on a bad drive or card. To do this it needs another drive to copy the data to, like your computer’s hard drive.
Next time…Backing up your images.
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