DI reader Ian Lander from Johannesburg faces a similar problem. He writes:
I was in the Kruger National Game Park in South Africa recently and captured some awesome shots with my digital camera. On attempting to access the pictures with my card reader I found that the image data had either been deleted or corrupted.While it is tough to estimate the exact problem, there are healthy chances that you can recover some data, if not all, from a corrupted memory card. Here are some free software to help you in the data recovery process:
The picture data is stored on a 1 gig Compact Flash Card. Any ideas/ suggestions/ recommendations?
PC Inspector - A Windows-only software, PC Inspector Smart Recovery can recover unintentionally deleted or formatted pictures from any storage medium used inside digital cameras. It also supports recovery of video files and RAW images taken with your SLR. [Download PC Inspector]
ZAR Image Recovery - While ZAR 8.0 is a commercial product, the picture recovery features are free and fully functional even inside the Trial version. Once you select the source device (typically a camera memory card), ZAR shows a list of files that you can recover and copy. It's that simple. [Download Zar 8.0]
If you are willing to spend a few buck on digital photo recovery programs, try Image Rescue Software [recommended by Lexar], ImageRecall [for Mac, recommended by PC Magazine] or Photo Recovery suggested by Sandisk.
Finally, here are some tips that may prevent memory cards from getting corrupt and prolong their life as well:
» As far as possible, use brands recommended by the camera manufacturers.
» Never turn off the digital camera while photos are being transferred to the PC or vice versa.
» It is always advisable to reformat camera cards at regular intervals depending on how frequently you use the digital camera.
» Use the camera controls itself to reformat the memory card, don't do this via your computer.
» Do not switch to the View (or Play mode) while the picture is still being written to the disk.
» Do not shoot the next photograph while the previous one is still being written or saved to card's memory.
» Make sure your camera batteries are properly charged. Shooting images with a low battery may sometimes cause problems. If the camera batteries fail while the image is being written, your card may get corrupt.
» Weird but true - Don't delete files from the Memory card using Windows Explorer. Either use the Camera controls or the photo management software supplied by the Camera vendor.
» If the memory card is showing problems frequently, it's probably time to invest in a new memory card before disaster strikes (again).
» Never eject the memory card while the camera is till ON.
» Do not use the same memory card is different cameras.
PS: Memory cards in the story above refer to all storage media formats including Memory Stick, Secure Digital [SD Cards] or even CompactFlash.
Related: Rescue Data from Corrupt CD & DVD Discs