Rescue Deleted Photos with These Tools (That Actually Work)

Utilities • Updated on Jan. 20, 2022

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nded up losing the album from your last summer vacation or accidentally delete a folder full of photos you needed to edit? We’re here to help you find the best photo recovery software and retrieve the lost images.

The modern generation may have never even seen an actual camera roll in their lifetime, but some of us old-timers have lived that era. Keeping a hold of your negatives and then taking them to a photography studio for printing seems like a thing of the past now. The digital era of photography has made it possible to store millions of pictures at your fingertips with not just cameras, but smartphones too.

The good old camera roll has been replaced with memory cards and storage drives, making it easier than ever to store and share them. However, having all of these precious memories in digital form makes it even easier to lose them with the click of a button. The worst part is, losing videos and images from your camera, computer, or smartphone might not even be in your control.

Reasons for missing or lost images

Damaged storage device

No piece of technology is foolproof, especially if it has gone through its fair share of usage over the years. You might end up with missing contents from the old laptop hard drive, or from the SD Card on your camera that you’ve had for years, since all technology ages and deteriorates in performance. There may even have been some ignored tell-tale signs such as slow transfer rates and error messages that could eventually lead to data loss.

Virus and malware

Although digital cameras don’t even have the software capable of harboring viruses, computers, and mobile phones do. When sharing digital content across these devices, the images can become corrupted, which will directly make them a threat to the system. Since antivirus apps are designed to sniff out threats, the corrupt images and videos would most likely get detected and deleted.

Human error

You certainly can’t rule out the possibility of mistakenly deleting pictures from the gallery, or worse, somebody else trashing them. In some cases, you might be able to find them chilling in the recycle bin, but usually, you will have to bend over backward to get those precious photos back.

Recovering images if you have cloud storage

The biggest benefit of the digital age would be the ability to store your entire life virtually on the internet. Cloud storage, whether it is Apple’s iCloud service, Google Photos, or others such as Dropbox and OneDrive, allow you to sync the contents of your computers, phones, and tablets to the remote servers, making the data accessible at all times and keeping it safe and sound.

If you have accidentally deleted images from your computer or phone, but have a cloud storage service synced to the device, there’s a fair chance of reclaiming those lost files.

Recover media with iCloud

One of the most profound features of Apple’s iCloud service is its ability to sync your crucial content from iPhone, iPad, and Mac to cloud storage. If you use any of the latter, you’re bound to have an iCloud account, which means if you deleted photos from your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook / iMac, the safety net of iCloud might just have caught them.

icloud recent

  • Open icloud.com on any web browser.
  • Enter your Apple ID and password to log in to your iCloud account.
  • Open the Photos
  • You should be able to see all of your synced pictures and videos under the Photos app.
  • On the right bar, select Recently Deleted
  • Here, you will be able to view the media that has been deleted in the last 30 days.
  • Select the images/videos and press Recover to bring back the media files to the Photos

Additionally, iCloud allows you to recover files, including media that you might have deleted from other apps, and here’s how you do it:

icloud setting

  • Open icloud.com on any web browser.
  • Enter your Apple ID and password to log in to your iCloud account.
  • Open the Account Settings button and scroll down to find the Advanced
  • Select Restore Files and wait as iCloud scans the backup files to find files that can be restored.
  • After you find the media files you want to reclaim, select and press Restore.

Note: Apple iCloud keeps a backup of your deleted media under the Recently Deleted folder for 30 days, in case you want to retrieve them. After this duration, the media files will be permanently deleted from the server. 

Recover media with Google Photos or Google Drive

Just the iCloud is to iOS, Google Drive is to Android users, with Google Photos as the dedicated platform for images and videos. Designed to securely backup all of your important data online, Google Photos might just be your savior if you recently deleted or lost media files from your Android phone or tablet.

google photo

  • From a web browser, head over to https://photos.google.com to access Google Photos.
  • Log into your Google
  • If you were already logged in, press the profile icon on the top-right corner to make sure you have the correct Google account logged in.
  • Hover on to the right sidebar and click on the Trash
  • Here you will be able to see all of the media files that have been deleted in the past 60 days.
  • Select the image and press the Restore icon at the top to bring back the file into your library.

Although Google Photos takes its storage space allowance from Google Drive, the media files you upload and store in Google Drive do not appear under Google Photos automatically. Hence, if you couldn’t find the lost images in Google Photos, there might still be a chance of you finding them tucked away in Google Drive.

drive

  • From a web browser, head over to https://drive.google.com to access Google Drive.
  • Log into your Google
  • If you were already logged into Google Drive, press the profile icon on the top-right corner to make sure you have the correct Google account logged in.
  • On the right sidebar, click the Trash
  • Here you will be able to see all of the images and videos that have been deleted in the past 30 days.
  • Select the image and press the Restore from Trash icon at the top to bring back the file into your Google Drive.

Note: The deleted media files on Google Photos can be viewed and recovered within 60 days, whereas the files on Google Drive can only be restored only within 30 days.

Related: How to Transfer Photos From iPhone to Mac or Windows?

Tools to recover photos on iPhone/iPad/Android

Tenorshare UltData

ultdata

While iOS may still have iTunes and Finder on Mac to help you keep a backup of your iPhone and iPad, there is no such official backup tool for Android. The Android File Transfer tool for Mac is less than decent, which is why Tenorshare UltData has become a rock-solid name across the entire Android user community.

Starting things off with dedicated multi-device support, UltData for Android works across hundreds of Android OEMs such as Samsung, OnePlus, Motorola, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and more. Making no compromise in terms of the security of the Android device, UltData works without rooting your Android phone and tablet, with a single-click recovery to speed things up.

Supporting all devices up to the latest Android 12 operating system, UltData goes above and beyond when it comes to media recovery. The user-friendly tool allows you to scan the Android device for deleted media not just from local backup files, but Google Drive too.

Apart from getting back the images you lost from the gallery, UltData comes with the ability to restore WhatsApp data, which includes not just conversations, but shared media files too. The software guarantees to protect the data it helps you recover, along with the option to quickly preview the pictures and videos before recovering them.

EaseUS MobiSaver

mobisaver

EaseUS is synonymous with data recovery and repair, so it’s no surprise that it ranks as one of the most effective tools to recover lost photos. For Android phones, MobiSaver Pro is able to retrieve data from the internal storage as well as SD card with ease. At the same time, iPhone and iPad users get a variety of options to reclaim their lost content.

You can either choose to directly connect the iPhone or iPad to MobiSaver Pro tool for both Windows and Mac, recover from an iTunes backup already stored on the computer, or even fetch the lost photos and videos directly from the iCloud backup of your iDevice.

The best part about MobiSaver Pro is the fact that it is a universal mobile data recovery solution that supports both Android and iOS. While most data recovery tools overcomplicate the job with a heavy user interface, MobiSaver keeps it light and buttery smooth, which allows you to quickly preview the recovered files, and download them to the computer with a single click.

Tools to recovery photos on Windows/Mac

Stellar Photo Recovery 

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An award-winning photo recovery tool that has hundreds of acclaimed reviews online to prove its competence, your search for a dedicated software ends with Stellar Photo Recovery. Previously known as Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery, the recovery tool comes with official support for some top camera brands, and it does not end there.

Built to recover media files of every popular format on the planet, Stellar Photo Recovery is equipped to retrieve photos (PNG, JPG, TIFF, GIF, PSD, Adobe EPS, etc.), bring back camera RAW image files (ERF, RAF, ORF, SR2, etc.), and even common video formats (MP4, AVI, 3GP, WMV, etc.).

The support for multiple memory card formats for photo recovery, along with support for every major storage format, including the most popular NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, HFS, and others. It all starts off with a fluidic user interface that is easy to get around, and for those who hoard too much data, the ability to save scan information is perfect to pause and resume deep searches later on.

Speaking of the Deep Scan feature, the improved scanning engine is designed to find the deleted and lost files based on their signature. Keeping the wear and tear of storage drives in mind, Stellar Photo Recovery also helps you produce a sector-by-sector image of a selected range, or entire media, ensuring it is saved on the good sectors and not lost by saving on the bad ones.

Find out more: The New Stellar Mac Data Recovery: Review

Remo Photo Recovery Software 

Among the more affordable premium data recovery tools out there, Remo Photo Recovery Software is a shutterbug’s best friend. Powered with support for video, photo, and audio formats, Remo Photo Recovery supports more than 300 media file types, including PSD, RAW, and everything in between.

Apart from external and internal storage drives, Remo Photo Recovery Software comes with SD card support (SDHC, SDXC, Micro SD, Mini SD, etc.). In recent times, the improvements in the user interface and the overall software quality have helped Remo Photo Recovery Software gain some traction.

The presence of a regular scan allows you to grab back those recently lost and deleted pictures, and the specialized Deep Scan for those harder to find media files. The feature comes in handy for media files you might have lost due to physical damage to the storage drive, and the ability to evaluate the retrieved image before you put your money on the line.

PhotoRec

The problem with most of the photo recovery tools you will find online, is the fact that they all come with a price tag attached. Sure, there are a few that offer the freemium model, but it simply isn’t worth the effort, which is why we felt the need to test out a free and open-source photo recovery tool such as PhotoRec.

Supporting not just every major video, audio, and image file format, PhotoRec can also pick up the occasional PDF, HTML, ZIP, and Office file types too. Regarding the storage drive support, you not only get coverage for FAT, NTFS, exFAT, and HFS+ file systems, PhotoRec covers a bunch of SD card formats, along with dozens of digital camera models.

Complete file recovery solutions for Windows/Mac

Wondershare Recoverit 

recoverit

While you may have wandered across the internet to find a tool that helps with image recovery, it surely isn’t the only file type out there you will look to retrieve in the future. Apart from photos and videos, you might need data recovery software that covers more formats than the ones highlighted above. Enter Wondershare Recoverit – a one-stop-shop for reclaiming more than 1000 different file types.

Designed with advanced features like Video Repair that allows the user to specifically find and restore videos that may have become corrupt while deletion, the Deep Recovery Engine Frame is built from the ground up to recover files that may have been lost during a computer crash, virus attack, formatting, or even an improper software install.

The clean user interface will almost make you forget the level of optimization underneath the surface, all thanks to well-defined sectors and quick scanning options. While there are no solutions for cloud data retrieval from Google Drive or iCloud, it allows you to connect any and every media and storage device to the Windows and Mac version of the software and reclaim lost files with a single click.

Tenorshare 4DDiG

4ddig

Back on the list once again, Tensorshare has not only cemented its position as a top-order photo recovery software provider, but delivers a wholesome experience with 4DDiG data recovery tool. Combining the features to find and reclaim any and every file type your system throws at it, 4DDiG comes with robust support across FAT, NTFS, HFS X, and other file systems.

Apart from allowing you to scan removable storage drives such as thumb drives, memory cards, and external hard disks, you can use 4DDiG to make sure the recovered files are in their original format and size.

With one of the highest recovery rates among the competitors, Tenorshare 4DDiG safeguards the recovered files from being overwritten, with zero leaks for added privacy. Performing deep scans to find those long-lost files may take forever on some tools, but not with Tenorshare 4DDiG.

What brings this particular all-in-one data recovery tool to the top is the quality of the software or the silky-smooth user interface and the dedicated technical support. The data recovery software comes with support for 10 different languages too. The ability to perform a free scan before purchasing the license is a good way to put the app to the test and keep your investment safe.

Bonus: tips to prevent photo deletion or loss

Make multiple copies

The safest way of ensuring you never lose a picture or a video is by making sure you don’t have just one version of it. When storing important photos, create a backup right away, preferably to an external source such as a portable hard drive or a thumb drive.

Sync to the cloud

God forbid, you end up losing your phone, camera, and even your laptop, the one thing that will stay is cloud storage. Whether you use iCloud, Google Photos, Dropbox, or any other cloud storage service, it is effectively the best and safest way to access pictures from anywhere at any time, and keep them safeguarded with multiple levels of authentication and security.

Be gentle with the storage drives

Most cameras use SD cards for storing images, and as convenient as they may be, these tiny memory chips are prone to ejection damage over time. Furthermore, water damage, scratching, and everything in between can cause the image files on the storage drive to become corrupted. This is even more common on hard disk drives, with the mechanical drive getting dislodged or breaking.

Here’s our take at every possible way to recover lost and deleted photos from your device, whether it is a camera, mobile, tablet, or a computer. Are you looking for some resources to help take your photos to a new level? Well, here are some of the best resources for help.

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