Action photographers might consider the GoPro camera to be one of the most important inventions in the history of photography. It opened up a whole new avenue for the creative use of first-person, point-of-view video to capture just about any type of activity that you can imagine. Everything from home skiing movies to award-winning feature movies have been made with a GoPro camera.

recover lost files gopro

We are going to take a look at what these amazing cameras can do later in this article. First, let’s address the problem of recovering deleted videos and photos from your GoPro Hero or other models.

5 Major Causes of a GoPro Data Loss

There are a number of issues that can arise when you are using digital photography equipment of any kind which can lead to lost videos or photos. Here are some scenarios you might run into that could potentially destroy valuable photos or footage that you have taken with your GoPro.

  1. You or someone handling the device accidentally deletes the content before you transfer it to your computer.
  2. Problems during transmission leave you with no files on your computer or your GoPro. After transmission, GoPro deletes the files that were supposedly transferred. In the case of an incomplete or faulty download, all of your work could be gone.
  3. You inadvertently format the SD card on your GoPro Black before downloading the photos and videos.
  4. You might have issues while converting from MP4 to the AVI or MOV format and want to recover the original content that has been deleted from the GoPro.
  5. Your GoPro is damaged or destroyed while you are attempting to take some challenging shots. Maybe the drone your camera was riding on crashed and took out the camera at the same time. GoPros are made to withstand a lot, but there is always the potential for something unexpected to occur. Hopefully, the SD card can be retrieved.

How To Recover Deleted Files From a GoPro

If you, unfortunately, experience any of these problems that lead to deleted MPEGs or other content, there is help available. Don’t despair or panic.

Disk Drill SD Card Recovery Software can help you recover any lost videos or photos on your GoPro and its associated SD card. Here’s how to do it.

Though they may not be visible to you, they may still exist on the SD card and be recoverable. That is, as long as you don’t overwrite them by continuing to use your camera.

In some cases, when GoPro videos are fragmented prior to deletion, the recovery of the entire video file may be complicated. Disk Drill’s team is working on special algorithms that would provide the required functionality for GoPro video recovery and reconstruction. The longer the video, the higher the chances that it would be fragmented, thus resulting in inconsistent data restoration. The features that address this functionality are on our roadmap.

We will look at how to use Disk Drill on Windows and Mac computers. If your camera is damaged beyond the point of being able to connect to your computer, you can remove the SD card and use a card reader to enact the recovery.

Steps to Recover Deleted Files from GoPro on Windows

Recovering your GoPro files with Disk Drill couldn’t be easier. You only have to:

  1. Download Disk Drill from its official site, and install it on your computer.
    Disk Drill
    Data recovery for free
    Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery
  2. Depending on if you’ve directly connected your GoPro to your PC or are only using its SD card, select the appropriate device from Disk Drill’s main Device/Disk list. Ensure All recovery methods is selected from the drop-down menu on the right. Then, click on Search for lost data on the bottom right of its window. Disk Drill Select GoPro SD Card
  3. Disk Drill will start scanning your GoPro’s storage to locate files. The more time the scan runs, the more files Disk Drill will locate. It would be best if you let the process complete to maximize the amount of data it will be able to recover. However, you can stop the process at any time with a click on Stop scanning on the top left of its window. And you can check the files Disk Drill already located with a click on Review found items on the top right. Disk Drill Scanning SD Card
  4. When the scanning process completes, click on Review found items on the top right of Disk Drill’s window to proceed to the next section. Disk Drill for Windows enables you to recover up to 500MB for free before upgrading to the Pro version.Disk Drill Scan Completed Review Found Items
  5. Disk Drill will show a list of folders used to categorize all your GoPro storage data based on how it found it (existing files, reconstructed data, etc.). If you had stored hundreds of different types of files on the same storage, it might be hard to locate your videos manually. Instead, use Disk Drill’s filters on the left. Click on Video to have Disk Drill present only the video files it located. Place a checkmark on the left of the ones you want to recover, and click on the Recover button at the bottom left of Disk Drill’s window. Disk Drill Select Files To Recover
  6. Choose the “target location” where you want Disk Drill to save your recovered videos. It’s best to choose a different storage device than the one from where you’re recovering data. Otherwise, the recovered files might be saved over other data you also want to get back, rendering its later recovery impossible. Disk Drill Choose Destination
  7. The time needed for the recovery’s completion depends on the amount of data you’re trying to get back and your computer and storage media speed. Video files can be pretty large. Disk Drill Recovery In Progress
  8. When the recovery completes, Disk Drill will show a brief report of the results. Click on Show recovered data in Explorer to see your recovered videos in the target folder you selected with the operating system’s default file manager. Disk Drill Recovery Complete

Extract GoPro Garbled Files With Unstoppable Copier

Can you see your GoPro files, but you meet errors when you try to copy them? Does the copy process complete, but the copied files are corrupted? It’s worth trying Unstoppable Copier.

You can think of Unstoppable Copier as a better alternative to the operating system’s native copy command. It’s designed specifically for dealing with files that seem unreadable. Unstoppable Copier performs multiple retries when reading problematic files, trying “to get the data right” before copying it to your chosen target location.

  1. Download Unstoppable Copier from its official site, and install it. Unstoppable Copier Download
  2. Run Unstoppable Copier. While on the Copy tab, click on the first Browse button on the right of its window. Then, select one of the problematic files you’d like to copy. Unstoppable Copier Select What To Copy
  3. Click on the second Browse button, and choose where you want Unstoppable Copier to save your file. Unstoppable Copier Select Destination
  4. Click on Copy on the top right, and hopefully, you’ll soon have your file back in working order. Unstoppable Copier Copy Complete
  5. If you want to recover more than a single file, move to Unstoppable Copier’s Batch Mode tab instead.

    Use the Add button on the bottom right to add to Unstoppable Copier’s list the files you want to recover and the path where you want them saved. You’ll have to repeat the steps for each of them. You can choose a whole folder, but that will take more time.

    Also, if dealing with a failing device, you should prioritize saving the files you need the most. Don’t try to salvage everything, which could push a failing device past its breaking point before recovering your most important data.

    Finally, click on Copy to have Unstoppable Copier try to clone them to the defined target locations.

    Unstoppable Copier Batch Mode

Fish Out Your Lost GoPro Files With Photorec

Do you believe Disk Drill is too straightforward, easy, or simple for your taste? Would you prefer a more hands-on approach and know your way around Windows hardware lingo? You may like Photorec.

Photorec is an open-source data recovery solution prevalent on Linux. It might not look as good as alternatives nor come with a state-of-the-art GUI, but it’s free. If cost is your highest priority, you can try recovering your GoPro videos with it.

We’ll be using its QPhotoRec variant for this tutorial, which presents an actual GUI instead of running in the command line.

  1. Download PhotoRec from its official site. Note that it’s bundled with TestDisk, and the archive you’ll download also contains QPhotoRec (that we’ll use here). QPhotoRec Download
  2. Note that PhotoRec’s site, at least at the time of writing, presented some potentially misleading ads with big, green, friendly-looking “download” buttons. Skip them and scroll down to find a simple link to PhotoRec’s download location. Still, this, in turn, will lead you to another page where you’ll find the genuine download link. As it seems, even downloading PhotoRec is less straightforward than the alternatives. QPhotoRec Download Link
  3. Extract the downloaded archive to a folder. Ignore the dozens of irrelevant files and run “qphotorec_win.exe“. QPhotoRec Run QPhotoRec Win
  4. Choose your GoPro’s storage from the drop-down menu on the top of QPhotoRec’s window.
  5. Select the partition on the media from which you want to recover data. QPhotoRec Select Partition
  6. Choose from the unmarked panel on the right of QPhotoRec’s window if you want to perform a Free (and quick) or a Whole (and slower but more thorough) scan. QPhotoRec Free Or Whole Scan
  7. Click on the Browse button on the bottom right of the window, and choose where you want to store the recovered files. QPhotoRec Select Destination
  8. With everything set up, click on the Search button at the bottom of the window to have QPhotoRec start scanning your GoPro’s storage for files. QPhotoRec Begin Search
  9. QPhotoRec will scan your GoPro’s storage and automatically recover any file it locates to the selected destination folder. QPhotoRec Scanning
  10. Don’t expect a report or other warning when the process completes. When the progress bar reaches 100%, a “Recovery completed” label will appear on its left. You can then click on Quit at the bottom of QPhotoRec’s window to exit the app. You’ll find all files it managed to recover in the destination folder you selected. QPhotoRec Recovery Completed

Fix Your Corrupted GoPro SD Card With CHKDSK

You can’t access your files because your GoPro SD Card appears corrupted? You might be able to fix it using CHKDSK.

Despite being a command line tool, CHKDSK is very easy to use.

  1. Press Windows key + X and run either the Windows Terminal or the PowerShell. Make sure to run them with elevated privilleges (choose the version with “Admin” after its name). Run Windows Terminal As Admin
  2. Type chkdsk X: /f , where “X” is the drive you want to check, and press Enter. CHKDSK will start scanning your storage device’s file system for errors and attempt to fix them. CHKDSK F
  3. Alternatively, type chkdsk X: /r if you’d prefer to check the whole storage device for bad sectors. Remember to replace “X” with the letter of the drive you want to scan. We must stress that, although more thorough, this process may also render some of your files inaccessible. Thus, it’s better first to take a complete backup of your device or use a tool like Disk Drill to first salvage your most precious files from it. CHKDSK R

Steps to Recover Deleted Files from GoPro on Mac

  1. Download Disk Drill and install it. You will need to allow the app to make changes to your system, so provide your administrator’s password when prompted.
    Disk Drill
    Data recovery for free
    Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery
  2. Launch the app and attach the GoPro or card reader to your machine.
  3. Select your camera or SD card from the list of disks that Disk Drill finds.
  4. Click the "Search for lost data" button and Disk Drill will scan your device and return a list of the files that it can recover.gopro file recovery
  5. Upgrade to Disk Drill Pro to perform the recovery of these identified files.
  6. Select the files you wish to recover as well as a storage location on your computer where they will be restored.lost gopro footage
  7. Click the "OK" button to perform the file recovery.lost gopro footage

GoPro File Formats

There are a number of file formats associated with GoPro cameras. The camera captures and records video files using the h.264 codec and the MP4 file type. For some resolutions, the HERO6 and HERO7 Black use the HEVC (h.265) codec.

lost gopro footage

Each video will be represented by three files:

  • The video is recorded in MP4 format and this is the file that you use to view your work.
  • There is also a THM file which is a thumbnail or small, 160 by 120 pixels picture that represents the video file.
  • You will also see an LRV file. This is a Low-Resolution Video file that contains the same information as the MP4 file but at a reduced resolution. These lower resolution files are used to facilitate streaming the video using the GoPro app. The LRV and THM files can be deleted without harming the original video and can be regenerated if required.

Memory is limited or non-existent in GoPros cameras. There is some internal memory used strictly for firmware and the camera’s internal functions. Standard definition Hero models contain 16 MB of memory for limited photo storage. Other models do not have any accessible onboard memory, so you will need to add an SD card in order to record videos or take photographs.

How Are GoPros Used and Why Are They So Popular?

There is a wide variety of uses for a GoPro camera, from amateur action videos to Hollywood movies. Using a GoPro enables the user to obtain shots and footage that were previously impossible to capture. Let’s take a look at some instances where a GoPro, and the artistic flexibility it affords a photographer or cinematographer, is used to enhance a movie or video.


#1 Ridley Scott’s “The Martian”

how to recover video from sd cardDecorated Hollywood director Ridley Scott used a GoPro for scenes in “The Martian”. The director claimed that the GoPro enabled the intensity of scenes and the intimacy of the film’s characters to be captured in an innovative way.


#2 “Face 2 Face”

how to recover video from sd cardThis movie extends the use of the GoPro by filming exclusively with the device. The filmmaker used a GoPro Hero 4 to create this award-winning film that is currently available on Netflix. The film, which was finished in 2016, concerns two childhood friends who bond over their communication through the FaceTime app.

The ability to minimize equipment distractions and concentrate on the story were two of the factors that led the filmmakers to choose the GoPro.


#3 Footage of Wingsuit Fights and Base Jumping

how to recover video from sd cardAnyone who has witnessed the videos created by individuals performing base jumping or flying in wingsuits with a GoPro can certainly attest to the impossibility of capturing these images in any other way. They are incredibly exciting videos that demonstrate how a GoPro can let us all share experiences that we may never have the chance to, or want to, engage in ourselves. Here’s an example of what it’s like to fly like a bird.


Conclusion

Taking chances with your GoPro might necessitate the services of Disk Drill to recover some video from the SD card of a damaged camera. It’s an excellent tool which allows you to restore potentially once-in-a-lifetime images in the event of accidental deletion.

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Odysseas Kourafalos

Odysseas Kourafalos has been writing about computers and technology for over two decades. He specializes in software and has produced thousands of articles, from tutorials on Linux to mini-books about gaming console modif...

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Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.