How To Recover Formatted Data From Memory Card

by Rod Dunne on May 17, 2011

in Data Recovery

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In this post I’ll show you how to recover formatted data from memory card storage and USB flash drives.

The first thing to get right is choosing the correct data recovery software. All data recovery applications need to understand what file format the memory is using in order to analyze it correctly. If you’re trying to recover USB flash drive/SD card contents then you should be able to use some of the more commonly available programs.

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Data Recovery Steps

The steps involved in data recovery are then the same for all types of memory you are trying to recover formatted data from.

  1. Insert the formatted memory card into a memory card reader and connect it via a USB connection to your computer.
  2. Install your data recovery application onto your computer. Be careful that you do not try to install it onto the formatted memory as this could overwrite your lost files with the installation.
  3. Start up the program.
  4. You will be prompted for which drive or partition you want to analyze for signs of lost files. Pick the formatted memory card.
  5. The application will attempt to recover formatted data from memory card storage by identifying lost clusters and trying to form them back into original files. This process is made more difficult since formatting will have cleared out the file allocation table (FAT) which keeps track of how clusters can be formed into a single document.
  6. Once the scanning process is complete (this may only take a few minutes if the memory card is quite small) you can review the list of found data and clone them back onto your computer.

One issue which you will probably experience is that formatting will have cleared away the regular filenames (as these are in the FAT – formatting wipes this clean). As a result, the simple workaround is to clone all the files that your data recovery application finds and search through these for individual documents you require.

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