Whether you’re a professional videographer, a vlogger, or record video for your family or friends, chances are really good you use an SD card to save those videos on your digital camera. Those same cards (made by brands such as SanDisk, Lexar, Toshiba, Samsung, Polaroid, and Sony) can be used on pro-level Canon cameras, action cameras (like the GoPro Hero), and even some smartphones have external slots for microSD cards.

Two different SD cards from different manufacturers.

So no matter the type of camera you use, or your use-case, the formatted SD card is your best friend.

Until it’s not.

There are a number of reasons why things can go wrong, but the most obvious is when you accidentally delete those precious videos from that memory card. It’s that human-induced error that’s always the most frustrating. When it happens, you’ll be scrambling to find a way to restore those videos. 

Can I recover deleted video from an SD card? 

Yes you can restore video files from an SD card, but it’s very important that you immediately stop using that card; don’t save another photo, video, or file to it. Take the SD card out of your camera and refrain from formatting it or scanning it with a tool that isn’t designed specifically for file recovery. Why? Because by reformatting the card, the chances of you recovering those videos is greatly reduced. And depending on the tool you use to scan the card, the likelihood of video recovery could also be reduced.

Let’s take a look at two different ways to recover deleted video files from an SD card and then how to recover deleted video files from an Android phone. 

Method 1: Recover Deleted Videos from an SD Card using Software

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll find a lot of software that can recover deleted files from an SD card. These range from the overly simple to the complex. One such software title is Disk Drill, an app that’s available for both Windows and macOS that has an incredibly high success rate with SD card video recovery.

Not only is Disk Drill Pro a very reliable tool for recovering files, but it’s also quite easy to use and can recover video formats like AVI, MOV, 3G2, WMV, MKV, MP4, M4V, 3GP, ASF, FLV, SWF, MPG, RM/RMVB.

Let’s take a look at how you can recover deleted video files from an SD card on two different platforms.

How to recover videos from SD card on Windows 

Step 1. Insert your SD card and locate it in Disk Drill

Let’s first take a look at recovering video files from an SD card on the Windows platform with Disk Drill Pro. After installing Disk Drill, open the software and insert the SD card in question. You should see something like Generic Multi-Card USB listed in the center pane. Click to expand the Generic Multi-Card USB listing and you should see your SD card listed.

Our SD card is ready for Disk Drill to scan

Step 2. Initialize the search

Click on the SD card listing and the Search for lost data button will appear at the bottom right corner of the window. Make sure All recovery methods is selected from the drop-down and then click Search for lost data.

Getting ready to scan our SD card for lost video files

Step 3. Allow the scan to complete

As disk drill scans, it will start listing the files it has discovered (in real-time). You can either wait for the scan to complete, or you can click Review found items.

Disk Drill is scanning the SD card for lost files

Step 4. Scan the entire SD Card

If the scan doesn’t find any lost video files, click Scan entire disk for a deeper scan.

Scan entire disk will also scan lost partitions for files

This deeper scan will take considerably longer to complete. Allow it to finish and you should see that Disk Drill has managed to find a lost video file.

Step 5. Locate the missing file

Click on the Video entry and then, in the resulting window, expand the entries until you find the missing video. Click the checkbox for that video file and then click Recover.

There it is, our video was located in the hidden trash folder of the SD card

Step 6. Select a folder to house the recovered file from your SD card

You will then be prompted to select a folder that will house the recovered file. Select a folder and click OK.

Locating a folder to house the recovered video

I highly recommend you do not locate the video file back on the SD card. Save it to the local drive on your computer and then you can either copy it back to another SD card or share it however you need. Once the recovery is complete, you’ll find the file in the directory you chose to house the video. 

How to recover videos from SD card on Mac

The process for recovering lost videos with Disk Drill Pro on macOS is similar to that on Windows.

Step 1. Insert the SD card to your Mac computer

Once you have Disk Drill Pro installed, open the application and insert the SD card in question (you’ll probably have to use a card reader for this). After inserting the card, it should appear in the Disk Drill window.

The SD card in question as it appears in the macOS version of DiskDrill Pro

Step 2. Initiate the scan

Click the recover button associated with the SD card. The file scan will begin automatically and reveal items as they are found.

Disk Drill finding lost files on an SD Card on macOS

Step 3. Scan the entire SD card

Once the scan completes, if you find there are no video files listed, click Scan entire disk.

We need to scan deeper to locate our lost videos on an SD card

Step 4. Filter the results

Wait for the deep scan to complete, and then select Videos from the All-files drop-down.

Step 5. Locate the file

Our video has been found on an SD card

Click the checkbox associated with the video file, select the folder to save the file to by clicking the Recover to drop-down, and then click the Recover button.

That’s it, you’ve successfully recovered deleted videos from an SD card storage device.

There are two versions of Disk Drill:

  • Free – which can find & preview deleted or corrupt files on an SD card.
  • Pro – which can recover deleted or corrupt files from an SD card.

Method 2: Recover Deleted Videos from a Physically Damaged SD Card

When an SD card is physically damaged (such as after being run over by a car, put through a washer and dryer, or bent in half) you probably won’t have much luck using a piece of consumer-grade software to recover files. In fact, when an SD card is physically damaged, your best bet for recovering those video files if by using a recovery service.

One such service is offered from CleverFiles, who has a “No data, no charge” policy. To start a recovery order, head over to New Work Order and select the priority of your recovery. You will then ship your SD card to the company and wait for the results. 

Method 3: Recover Deleted Videos from your Phone

If you’ve lost video files on your mobile device, all hope is not lost. Why? In a word, the cloud. Chances are pretty good if you’ve recorded a video on your phone, you’ll find it in either Google Photos or iCloud. If that lost video isn’t found on your connected cloud account, you might then have to look into any possible backups associated with your device. But most likely, you’ll find your lost video in your cloud account.

If you happen to use an Android phone, you can also try an app like DiskDigger, which is capable of finding and recovering deleted photos and videos on either your phone’s built-in storage or microSD card. If that doesn’t work, you could remove the microSD card, insert it into a card reader, attach the reader to your PC or Mac, open Disk Drill, and go through the recovery process as outlined above.


Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, ZDNet, TechTarget and Linux.com.

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Approved by
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.