There are countless apps for PC designed to allow you to recover data that has been lost from your memory card. While everyone obviously hopes that they’ll never need to use it, it’s important to ensure that you have the best SD card software available in case something does happen.
You can take measures to reduce the risk of data loss, but nobody can completely eliminate the possibility. Once you’ve discovered that files have been deleted, you should stop using the SD card and start up one of these 5 programs – the best pieces of memory card recovery software for Windows and Mac.
SD Card Recovery Software Testing Statistics
|Number of tested tools
|How long we tested
|Windows 11, macOS Sonoma 14.1
|Memory card types
|SD, MicroSD, CF, SDHC, SDXC
Our expert team engages in comprehensive, practical evaluations of each SD card recovery tool, ensuring that our recommendations are both trustworthy and efficient. Discover more about how we test.
1. Disk Drill SD Card Recovery (Windows & Mac)
- High success rate
- Supports all file systems
- Verifies recovery chances with its Preview feature
- RAW photo & RAW video recovery
- No portable version
Among the various free SD card data recovery programs, Disk Drill is a great place to start, and we recommend it as a must-download if you are storing anything important on your SD card.
This versatile tool for Windows and Mac can recover hundreds of file formats, including photos, videos, audio files, documents, and file archives from Windows, Mac, and Linux file systems (including FAT16. FAT32, and exFAT, which are often used to store files on SD cards).
What makes Disk Drill really stand out from other data recovery programs featured in this article is its excellent RAW photo and RAW video recovery performance.
Another hero of the day: @Cleverfiles Disk Drill! Had a corrupt SD card with timelapse footage. None of the data recovery apps could see or mount the card. I then formatted the card in a @GoPro , after that the card mounted and Disk Drill recovered everything :))— Sybren Arnoldus (@IetsMetFilm) March 18, 2019
Raw files created by Sony (.arw), Nikon (.nef, .nrw), Canon (.cr2, .cr3, .crw), Fujifilm (.raf), or Panasonic (.rw2), among many other brands, are all flawlessly supported regardless of if they’re stored on MicroSD cards, MiniSD cards, CF cards. SDHC, or SDXC cards.
The free version of Disk Drill can preview an unlimited number of files, allowing you to make sure your files are recoverable before you use the free recovery limit of 500 MB (Windows only) or purchase an unlimited license.
2. PhotoRec (Windows, Mac, Linux)
- Completely free
- Open-source license
- Supports all major platforms
- Doesn’t require installation
- Command-line software
- The optional GUI is very basic
- Doesn’t receive updates often
PhotoRec is unlike any other data recovery program recommended in this article because it doesn’t have a graphical user interface. Well, unless you use the optional graphical user interface that’s included in the file archive using which PhotoRec is distributed as a portable application.
However, the optional GUI is very basic, and the user experience it provides is miles behind Disk Drill. But if usability isn’t all that important to you, then PhotoRec should be very high on your list of favorites because it’s completely free and open-source.
“Don’t let the DOS-like user interface fool you. This is the BEST software to recover photos from SDCard. You just select the SD Card, select a directory to place the recovered files, and BOOM, everything will be there. Can’t be better than that. And it’s totally free!” – danarrib, AlternativeTo
The application’s signature scanner delivers above-average results when recovering raw photo and video file formats, and it performs similarly well even when recovering documents and most other file formats.
PhotoRec works well with SD cards that have become raw, and it can also scan their byte-to-byte images. These and other positive qualities make its steeper learning curve worth overcoming.
3. Recuva (Windows only)
- Portable version available
- Free version available
- The free version doesn’t include support
- No updates since 2016
- The interface is not user-friendly
Piriform Recuva includes many of the same features of the other options on this list, and it comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. Recuva offers both a free and premium version, but the set of features locked behind the paywall is slightly different, as data recovery is unlimited in both.
Instead, the premium version—available for only $20—offers a few unique features that make the experience more seamless. First, premium users are given priority technical support and automatic updates.
“Accidentally deleted over 1800 Canon RAW files from my SD card. I used Recuva and it restored all of my files.” – Reddit user, reddit.com
Possibly more important to some users, the premium software also gives you the option of creating a backup using a virtual hard drive before making any adjustments, thus allowing you to reverse any unforeseen negative consequences.
4. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Windows & Mac)
- Simple interface;
- Good overall recovery results;
- RAW photo & video recovery.
- It isn’t clear how long the scan will really take, the ETA is always irrelevant;
- Very few file formats are supported for preview.
Like several of the other options on this list, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is available in both a free and paid version. It also offers standard quick scan and deep scan features, allowing you to look for recent files or conduct a more thorough check. With its premium edition costing $90, it comes in as one of the more expensive pieces of software, but it also has a trial for those who want to try before they buy.
“No data-recovery app can retrieve everything, but EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro does the best job in testing at recovering lost and deleted files” – Edward Mendelson, pcmag.com
EaseUS gives you the ability to search for a specific type of file, targeting your scan to a specific set of files and thus reducing the total scan time. Since the free version is limited to a total of 1GB of data restoration, you’ll need to pay for a license before scanning your memory card for any larger files.
Compared to other similar pieces of software, including those on this list, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can sometimes run slower scans. The flipside of this is that its performance in finding corrupted and deleted files is among the best on the market, and it also takes up a lower amount of energy on your computer. If you have the time and patience to wait for the scan to finish, EaseUS is one of the best options available.
5. Recoverit SD Card Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)
- Deep Scan available
- Clean and modern UI
- Not all file types can be previewed
- Doesn’t show a file’s quality before recovering it
- The free version only supports recovering 100 MB of data
This option is designed for those looking for a professional data recovery solution, and while it comes with a price tag— $99.99 for a year, or $159.99 for life—its features may be worth it if you need the best software available. You can recover only 100MB for free with Windows version.
The highlighted features of Recoverit Data Recovery include the sleek, professional interface, good rate of file restoration, speed, and ease of use. If you’re looking for a specific file or type of file, you can narrow your search by file extension, and many of the more advanced options are made accessible to those with less technical experience. It’s extremely easy to understand the options Recoverit offers, and its menu system seamlessly takes you from step to step.
“Recovered a project from a client from an SD card that was accidentally wiped and a bunch of odd unsaved pictures here and there. Very happy with the usability of the app as well.” – Trustpilot verified user, trustpilot.com
In the end, nobody but you can determine whether Recoverit’s steep price tag is worth it’s set of high-quality features. Those looking for a reliable, easy option, or for software to license throughout a business, may be willing to pay for an application with better ease of use and a simpler interface, but it may be too expensive for those willing to negotiate the slightly more complicated menus of other programs.
How We Test Memory Card Data Recovery Software
Our testing process for memory card data recovery software strictly adheres to our editorial guidelines, ensuring that our methods are both rigorous and unbiased. This specialized approach is specifically designed to evaluate the effectiveness of data recovery tools in real-world scenarios involving SD cards. Here’s a summarized version of our testing process:
Here’s a summarized version of our testing process:
- Dataset Preparation: We gather a diverse range of file types typically stored on memory cards, such as RAW photos, videos, and documents. These files are sourced from various devices to represent different camera models and file formats.
- Memory Card Preparation: We use real SD, microSD, CF, SDHC, SDXC cards and, in some cases, virtual hard drives (VHDs) to simulate memory cards. These memory cards are prepared with our dataset, ensuring a mix of file types and sizes.
- Simulating Data Loss: We simulate common data loss scenarios on memory cards, including accidental deletion, formatting, and corruption.
- Recovery Process: Each data recovery tool is run through its paces, using both signature scan and deep scan methods where applicable. We pay special attention to the software’s ability to handle memory card-specific challenges, like fragmented files and varying file systems.
- Analyzing Recovery Results: The recovered data is evaluated for completeness, integrity, and quality. We also assess the ease of use of the recovery software, specifically for memory card recovery.
- Scoring and Ranking: Data recovery tools are scored on their performance in recovering various file types from memory cards. Additional factors such as user software features specific to memory card recovery, and overall reliability are also considered. We also incorporate feedback from Trustpilot and Reddit, integrating user insights and experiences to enhance our scoring accuracy and relevance.
In conclusion, these five software solutions for SD card recovery offer excellent options for users seeking to recover data from their formatted, or corrupted SD card. Each solution provides its advantages, depending on your data recovery needs and preferences, from open-source options like PhotoRec to more user-friendly programs such as Disk Drill.
Given the potentially devastating consequences of losing essential files that may be trapped inside an SD card, it is crucial to explore all your options thoroughly. Furthermore, it is essential to learn how to protect data stored on SD cards in the first place to prevent disasters.