Best Free Photo Recovery Software

Disk Drill Photo Recovery is the best software for restoring cherished memories from various storage media, including SD cards, professional cameras, USB flash drives, and internal or external hard drives. Whether it's JPGs from your last family vacation or RAW image files from a professional photo shoot, Disk Drill Photo Recovery can save the day in a few clicks.

photo recovery software mac os

Disk Drill: a Free and Easy-to-Use Photo Recovery Tool

Lost your Photos? Disk Drill is free image recovery software that can help you get your photos back quickly and easily. It’s a great program for restoring lost or deleted photos from digital devices. Its features include:

  • Recover up to 500 MB of data for free which equals hundreds of photos.
  • Support for RAW image formats used by a variety of digital cameras.
  • Real-time visualization of the scanning process to help track photo recovery progress.
  • Generate photo previews before recovery to accurately select the right files and verify their recoverability.
  • Sort and filter found photos according to file type, file size, date modified, and more.
  • No technical expertise is required to recover lost photos.

You will obtain the best results by allowing the scanning algorithms to finish and letting the application recover file fragments and determine their structure. Disk Drill also offers the flexibility of pausing the scan when your photos have been restored without requiring the process to complete. As the scanning proceeds and results are available to preview, you can stop the process at any time and recover the photos that have already been found.

Recover Lost Photos From Any Storage Device

Disk Drill is a versatile computer photo recovery software solution that can restore a deleted picture from virtually any type of disk-based storage device. This includes the internal disk of your PC, external hard drives, SD and memory cards, micro SD cards, USB drives, and many other types of digital devices. Simply connect the device to your computer and let the application scan its storage and recover your important images.

PC / MacPC / Mac
PC / Mac

Dell®, HP®, Acer®, Asus®, MacBook Pro®, MacBook Air®, Apple iMac® and more


HP®, Samsung®, Seagate®, Toshiba®, WD®, LaCie®, Intel®, Adata® and more

USB Drive
USB Drive

SanDisk®, Samsung®, Kingston®, Corsair®, Patriot®, PNY®, Verbatim®, Silicon Power® and more

SD / CF Card
SD / CF Card

SanDisk®, Transcend®, Toshiba®, Lexar®, Integral®, SP®, PNY®, Kingston® and more

Digital Camera
Digital Camera

Samsung®, HP®, Sony®, GoPro®, Canon®, Sigma®, Nikon®, Epson®, Panasonic® and more

iPhone / Android (Mac ONLY)**
iPhone / Android (Mac ONLY)**

Samsung Galaxy®, iPhone®, Lenovo®, Huawei®, OnePlus®, Google Pixel®, LG® and more


* If TRIM is disabled. Learn more >

** Tip: To recover images from iPhone/Android devices use Disk Drill for Mac

Supported Photo and Image Formats

Disk Drill offers the best image recovery tool by supporting a wide variety of digital photo formats. Standard image formats as well as raw camera data from all major manufacturers can all be restored using this versatile photo recovery tool. Take a look at all of the different picture formats that can be recovered and see if they include the one you need. We think they will.

Image Formats
Image Formats
Camera Raw Photo Formats
Camera Raw Photo Formats
Polaroid/Sigma: X3F. Pentax: PEF. Fujitsu: RAF. Fujifilm: RAF. GoPro: GPR. Leica/Panasonic: RW2, RAW, RWL.
Graphics Picture Formats
Graphics Picture Formats
After Effects Project: AEP. Adobe: AI, APM, INDD, INDL, INX, LRCAT, PSB, PSD. ARRIRAW images: ARI, ARX.
4 easy steps

How to Recover Deleted or Lost Photos

1. Download and install Disk Drill free photo recovery software

At the start of the installation, you will be asked to let the Disk Drill installer make changes to your device. This is so it can install the necessary software components that enable photo recovery. You can then follow the step-by-step process which guides you through setting up the application.

Download and install Disk Drill free photo recovery software

2. Choose the location and start scanning for lost pictures

When you launch Disk Drill, it will automatically display a list of storage devices (and their partitions) available for recovery. Choose the storage device that was home to your lost photos and click the Search for lost data button. For comprehensive results, it's best to scan the entire drive rather than just a specific partition.

Choose the location and start scanning for lost pictures

3. Select the photos you want to recover

Disk Drill will inform you about the progress of the scan, showing you exactly how many files have been found across different file categories. You can pause/resume scanning if you need to, see the results with scanning continuing in the background, or just let it finish before moving on to selecting the photos you want to recover.

Select the photos you want to recover
Streamline Your Search with the "Pictures" Filter
3.1 Streamline Your Search with the "Pictures" Filter

For a more efficient recovery, select the "Pictures" filter in Disk Drill's left pane. This narrows down your scan results to only include recoverable images, saving you time by eliminating irrelevant file types.

Streamline Your Search with the "Pictures" Filter
Preview Images Before Recovery
3.2 Preview Images Before Recovery

Use Disk Drill's preview feature to make sure you're recovering the right photos. A small preview of the currently selected file is automatically displayed in a preview pane on the right, and you can hover your mouse over it and click the magnifying glass icon to open a full-size preview in a pop-up window.

Preview Images Before Recovery
Check All Three Recovery Folders
3.3 Check All Three Recovery Folders

Disk Drill groups recoverable files into three folders—Deleted or lost, Existing, and Reconstructed—depending on how exactly they were recovered. You should always check each of these folders so that you don't miss any recoverable photos.

Check All Three Recovery Folders

4. Recover the deleted photos to a safe destination

With your lost photos selected, you can click the Recover button and choose a secure location on your computer or an external storage device to save them. It's important to avoid saving the recovered photos back to the same device where they were lost, as this could potentially overwrite the data and reduce the chances of a successful recovery.

Recover the deleted photos with image recovery freeware after you have made your selections

The Keys to Successful Photo Recovery

Here are some tips on how to use image recovery software for the best chance of success. Failure to follow these suggestions puts your recovery effort at risk.

Suddenly realizing your photos are lost or deleted

Suddenly realizing your photos are lost or deleted

The most important thing you can do when you realize that your storage device has experienced a data loss affecting your photos is to immediately stop using the disk. Continued use of the device risks overwriting or corrupting the files before you have a chance to retrieve them. This is a general precaution that should be taken whenever you have any type of data loss.

The storage device (SD card, micro SD card, hard drive, flash/USB) is completely fine and ready for recovery

The storage device (SD card, micro SD card, hard drive, flash/USB) is completely fine and ready for recovery

If the storage device is operating properly and the only issue is that you have accidentally deleted the photos, you can proceed to the recovery stage. As extra insurance, you should consider using Disk Drill’s ability to create a byte-level backup which can be used to restore the deleted files if the original device fails or experiences problems.

The affected device is not used for further storage

The affected device is not used for further storage

When data gets deleted from a storage device, the files and folders are not erased from the disk. They are still available for recovery as long as the storage space they occupied is not used to save new data. When you save a new file to the device, it can overwrite the deleted files and make it impossible for photo recovery software to restore them.

Storage media was not defragmented after photos loss occurred

Storage media was not defragmented after photos loss occurred

Performing a defragmentation procedure on a storage device physically moves files around so they are saved in contiguous storage locations. This process can increase disk performance, but should not be considered if you are planning data recovery on the device. Defragmentation will potentially overwrite the deleted files you want to retrieve. Wait until you have recovered your lost files before defragmenting the disk.

Use an efficient and reliable Photo Recovery Tool

Use an efficient and reliable Photo Recovery Tool

The quality of the tools you use impacts your chances of success in any field. Disk Drill is high-quality image recovery software that makes it easy for users with any degree of computer knowledge to quickly and effectively restore lost and deleted photos. The app employs an intuitive interface and advanced scanning techniques to reliably recover your lost pictures.

Make a backup of the storage device

Make a backup of the storage device

Using Disk Drill’s byte-level backup feature gives you an extra level of insurance when performing data recovery. The backup includes any photos that were deleted from the device and can be used as an alternative means of recovery if the original disk experiences failure or further corruption. Creating the backup does not write any information to the device, making it completely safe to run before attempting data recovery.

How to Pick the Best Photo Recovery Software

Choosing the right image recovery tool can be challenging with the number of different options available. We have created this chart that illustrates the features and capabilities of some popular photo recovery solutions. The goal is to help you choose the best photo recovery software that will get back images in a variety of formats in the most effective and user-friendly manner. Choosing the wrong tool can lead to a frustrating data recovery session.

Disk Drill free photo recovery

Disk Drill

stellar photo recovery


recuva photo recovery


photorec recovery software


easeus photo recovery


.heic (Apple)



.raw (Kodak, Leica, Panasonic or any other camera)



.tif (Canon, Hasselblad, Kodak, Nikon, Phase One)


.jpg (any mobile or camera)

.dng (any mobile or camera)




.cr2 (Canon, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Zeiss)




.nef (Nikon, Tamron, Zeiss)



.arw (Sony with different lenses: laowa, Samyang, Sigma, Tamron, Voigtlander, Zeiss)



.cr3 (Canon)

.orf (Olympus)


Not all data recovery tools are able to perform at the same level when it comes to photo recovery. We’ve taken a look at each data recovery application above and summarised what we think about each one below. Read more   Close  

1. Disk Drill Photo Recovery Software (Windows / Mac)

Disk Drill includes everything you need in a photo recovery solution. It has the ability to scan your drive and recover an impressive number of lost or deleted photo file types without difficulty. Additionally, it includes data protection features that keep your photos safe in the event of a data loss situation.

2. Stellar Professional Photo Recovery Software (Windows & Mac)

Stellar is another popular photo recovery tool that can recover deleted photos. It includes a preview function that allows you to see the photo before recovering it. However, you may be disappointed to find that it doesn’t offer full support for photo file formats used by professional-grade cameras, like CR2 and RAW.

3. Recuva (Windows)

Recuva is a free data recovery tool that deserves the attention of all Windows users who want to recover an unlimited number of photos at no cost. However, due to the lack of recent updates and limited support, its effectiveness in recovering newer photo file types might be less than more regularly updated tools, such as Disk Drill.

4. PhotoRec (Windows, Mac & Linux)

PhotoRec is another free data recovery tool that can be used to recover large quantities of photos without spending any money. It features a powerful signature scanner capable of recognizing hundreds of photo file formats, but the tool operates via an unintuitive command-line interface. An optional graphical interface, called QPhotoRec, is available to Windows users, but it lacks polish and more advanced features.

5. EaseUS Photo Recovery Software (Windows & Mac)

EaseUS is available on Windows and Mac. It supports over 300 different file types and recovery from a multitude of data recovery scenarios. Despite its impressive range of supported file types, it still only offers partial support for photo formats such as RAW, TIF, and HEIC.


Testing scenario: Files were copied to a formatted NTFS volume and subsequently deleted. The volume’s MFT was then deleted causing it to become corrupted. We then reformatted the volume to the exFAT filesystem before attempting recovery. The purpose of these steps was to test the ability of a deep scan to locate and reconstruct deleted data based on their file signatures.

Predicting Photo Recovery Success

The outcome of any data recovery attempt depends on a whole host of factors, and you may not always be able to completely recover every single lost photo. Let’s explore how common data loss scenarios affect your recovery chances.

Accidental deletion

Accidental deletion

On Windows and Mac, deleted files are first moved to a temporary storage area before the storage space they occupied is marked as empty so that it can be overwritten with new data. Before that happens, your recovery chances are high.

Storage device formatting

Storage device formatting

A formatted storage device that hasn’t been filled up with new data still contains all original photos, and photo recovery software like Disk Drill can get them back.

Data corruption

Data corruption

Until data corruption exceeds a certain threshold, the affected photos can usually be recovered with no or minimal damage.

Malware infection

Malware infection

Malware infections range from relatively benign to serious. Some malware only hides files to scare the user, while other malware can encrypt files and make them impossible to recover.

Partition table damage

Partition table damage

Disk Drill is intelligent enough to recognize lost partitions and recover all data they contain.

Mechanical damage

Mechanical damage

This is the worst-case photo loss scenario you can possibly encounter. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you would be able to solve it using photo recovery software.

To keep you informed throughout the recovery process, Disk Drill estimates the recovery chances of each photo and displays them using intuitive color labels:

Filled Star High file recovery chances are marked filled star;

Half-filled Star Average recovery chances are marked half-filled star;

Empty (White) Star Low recovery chances are marked empty (white) star;

Question Mark The question mark label is used when the recovery chances are unknown.

estimate photo recovery chances disk drill

A quick note about SSDs: Many modern solid-state drives use a feature called TRIM to instantly empty the storage space occupied by deleted files for improved performance. When enabled, the TRIM feature makes the recovery of files that are no longer present in the Recycle Bin or Trash impossible.

cleverfiles PROTECT

Preventing future photo loss

It’s better to avoid losing your photos even if you have an excellent program like Disk Drill to retrieve photos if necessary. Here are some tips to prevent photo loss.

The most effective way to protect your valuable images from being permanently deleted is to back them up regularly. You can do this in a variety of ways including Disk Drill’s byte-level backup facility. Recovery Vault is a free data protection feature that lets you designate important files or folders to guard against inadvertent deletion. It retains these items for a user-specific length of time even if they are deleted from the Recycle Bin.

image recovery software

Disk Drill Testimonials By Other Users

"Essential tool for photographers to safeguard their precious photos and videos. Recovering deleted files works like magic!" - Mark Condon
Read more
Accidentally deleted a few hundred RAW photos on my hard drive, from my newest / one of my fav 'Dancers on Rooftops' shoots!😬 Luckily I found possibly the best data recovery software I've ever used Disk Drill by @Cleverfiles. Easily & quickly recovered everything, I'm impressed!
Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How to recover deleted photos?

Recently deleted photos can often be recovered from the Recycle Bin:

  1. Locate the Recycle Bin desktop icon and double-click it.
  2. Find your missing files inside the Recycle Bin and select them.
  3. Right-click any selected file and click Restore to move them back to their original locations.

What is photo recovery?

Photo recovery is the process by which image recovery software for a PC is used to restore access to photo files that were deleted or lost from a storage device. The software scans the device and repairs the operating system access that was removed when the files were deleted. Once lost files have been overwritten, recovery for that data is not possible.

What is the best free photo recovery software?

The best free photo recovery software applications available in 2023 include:

  1. Disk Drill Photo Recovery Software (Windows/Mac) – Best overall since it recovers all 4K, 8K, 360, and VR cameras, as well as all commonly used storage devices
  2. PhotoRec (Windows/Mac) – Best for fans of open-source software who are not afraid of a text-based user interface
  3. Windows File Recovery (Windows Only)
  4. Recuva (Windows Only) – Best for unlimited free recovery of basic photo file formats
  5. Gihosoft RePicvid Free Photo Recovery Software (Windows/Mac) – Best three-step recovery of regular and RAW images with original quality
  6. RecoverIt Photo Recovery Software (Windows/Mac)
  7. CardRecoveryPro (Windows Only)
  8. Remo Media Recover (Windows/Mac)
  9. Undelete 360 Free Photo Recovery (Windows/Mac) – Best for recovering deleted and lost photos from Windows 7 and older
  10. Stellar Professional Photo Recovery Software (Windows & Mac)
  11. Picture Rescue (Mac/Windows)
  12. EaseUS Photo Recovery Software (Windows & Mac)

How can I restore deleted photos from my computer for free?

With Disk Drill for Windows, you can recover up to 500MB of photos for free. Follow these simple steps to get your pictures back.

  1. Download and instal DIsk Drill on your PC.
  2. Connect the device that contained the deleted images.
  3. Launch the application and choose your disk from the disk list.
  4. Click Search for lost data to start scanning the disk.
  5. Preview the found photos and select those you want to restore.
  6. Click Recover and choose a new location at which to save the photos.

How do I recover permanently deleted photos on Windows 10?

You can recover permanently deleted photos on Windows 10 using the File History feature:

  1. Make sure your backup drive is connected to your computer.
  2. Open the Start menu, type “control panel,” and launch the Control Panel app.
  3. Go to System and Security > File History.
  4. Click the Restore personal files link in the left pane.
  5. Select the photos you want to restore.
  6. Click the green restore button to restore the selected photos to their original locations.

How do I recover permanently deleted pictures without software?

It’s possible to recover permanently deleted pictures using native recovery features in Windows:

  1. Right-click the folder where your permanently deleted pictures were stored.
  2. Choose the Restore previous versions option.
  3. Select a previous version that contains the permanently deleted pictures (you can preview its content by clicking the Open button).
  4. Click the Restore button to recover your permanently deleted pictures.

Keep in mind that Previous Versions come from File History or System Restore Points, so you won’t be able to recover your files unless they’ve been backed up by at least one of the two backup features.

How to restore lost pictures from a USB flash drive?

You can restore lost pictures from a USB flash drive using data recovery software:

  1. Download Disk Drill and install it on your computer.
  2. Connect your USB flash drive and launch Disk Drill.
  3. Select the flash drive and click Search for lost data.
  4. Find and select your lost pictures.
  5. Click Recover.

Is it possible to recover deleted RAW image files?

Yes, RAW image files, such as CRW CR2 CR3 (Canon), ARW, SRF, SR2 (Sony), or NEF NRW (Nikon), can be recovered using any data recovery software that supports them. Disk Drill is a good choice because of its easy-to-use user interface and preview capabilities.

What is the best photo recovery software for Windows users?

Top 13 Photo Recovery Software for Windows:

  1. Disk Drill Photo Recovery Software
  2. Photorec
  3. Recuva
  4. Hetman Photo Recovery
  5. RecoverIt Photo Recovery
  6. Remo Media Recover
  7. Exif Untrasher
  8. Picture Rescue
  9. CardRecoveryPro
  10. Data Rescue 5
  11. EaseUS Image Recovery
  12. Disk Doctors Photo Recovery
  13. Easy Digital Photo Recovery

I can’t find my photos in the scan results. What should I do?

If you cannot easily locate your lost photos in the scan results, the files may have been reconstructed during Disk Drill’s deep scanning procedure. You will need to search through the Reconstructed and Reconstructed labeled paths to find the deleted files. Base your search on the file extension of the deleted photo, for example, .jpg. The file will be named something like file0000 will be returned in the Reconstructed folder if deep scan cannot determine the original filename. Items in the Reconstructed labeled folder have a filename that the tool has found in the recovered file’s metadata. Use the Preview feature to determine which of the files contains the image you need.

Is it safe to use a photo recovery app?

Yes, the best photo recovery apps are 100% safe to use. Unfortunately, there are also various shady and abandoned photo recovery apps that deliver subpar results and may even do more harm than good, depriving you of that one and only chance to get your data back.

How do I recover photos after software update?

That depends on which operating system you’re using:


  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Update & Security > Backup.
  3. Click More options under Back up using File History.
  4. Select Restore files form a current backup.
  5. Select your lost photos and click the recovery button.


  1. Open the folder where your lost photos were located.
  2. Click the Time Machine icon located in the Menu Bar and choose Enter Time Machine.
  3. Locate the photos you want to recover using the timeline on the right edge of the screen.
  4. Click Restore to restore the selected photos.


  1. Install DiskDigger from the Google Play Store.
  2. Launch the app and start basic photo scan.
  3. Select the photos you want to recover and tap the Recover button.

Which file formats can Disk Drill Photo Recovery recover?

Disk Drill Photo Recovery can recover over 400 file formats in total, including all photo, video, and audio file types commonly used by mirrorless, action, and drone cameras, among others.

Supported file formats:

  • Photos: JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, AI, CR2, DNG, ICO, GIF, PSD, WEBP, and more
  • Videos: AVI, MP4, MOV, MPG, 3GP, MKV, MLV, RM, TS, WEBM, WMV, and more
  • Audio: MP3, OGG, FLAC, AAC, M4A, RA, WAV, WMA, MID, AIF, AIFC, AIFF, and more

How do I recover permanently deleted photos on Windows 11?

As a Windows 11 user, you can recover permanently deleted photos using the built-in data backup and recovery feature, called File History. To get started, right-click the folder where your deleted photos were located and select Show more options > Restore previous versions. Then you just need to choose a recent backup and retrieve your files from it?

Is there a way to recover photos after factory reset without backup?

Yes, you can recover photos following a factory reset, even if you don’t have a backup. If you’ve suffered from data loss, the first thing you must do is stop using the device that the photos were stored on. Continued use puts your data at risk of being overwritten, rendering it unrecoverable.

To recover your photos, you will need to use a data recovery tool. Such tools, like Disk Drill, are able to scan your drive for recoverable data and restore it to a folder of your choosing. Of course, there isn’t a 100% guarantee that you can recover all of your files, but this is your best chance if you want to recover your data yourself.

How do I find lost pictures on my computer?

To find your lost pictures on your computer, you can open File Explorer and use the search box in the top-right to see if the missing pictures are not hiding somewhere on your storage device. Similarly, you can open the Recycle Bin and use its search box to see if they haven't been deleted recently.

Use Cases and Tips for Photo Recovery Software

Disk Drill can be used to recover from many types of data loss scenarios. Your valuable pictures may have been located on a variety of devices when you discover that they have been accidentally deleted. The recovery application supports restoring your lost images from virtually any type of disk-based storage media. Here are some specific recovery cases that can be addressed with this versatile software tool.
Lost file recovery university
Used by world famous companies