How can I recover my SD card data online?

Losing data from an SD card can be devastating, especially if the lost files contained irreplaceable photos, videos, documents, or other important information. Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to recover SD card data online, without having to pay for expensive data recovery services.

Can I recover data from a corrupted SD card online?

Yes, it is often possible to recover data from a corrupted SD card using online tools. SD cards can become corrupted due to things like improper ejection, file system errors, or physical damage. When corruption occurs, the data is usually still present on the card, but the file systemstructure that enables access to the data is damaged.

Online SD card recovery services can scan the raw data on your corrupted card and reconstruct the file system in order to regain access to your files. As long as the physical SD card is still intact, there is a good chance much of the data can be recovered using these tools.

What are some good free online SD card recovery tools?

Here are some of the best free online SD card recovery tools:

  • Disk Drill – Offers 500MB of free recovery and is easy to use with a step-by-step guided recovery process. Supports all major file systems.
  • EaseUS – Allows recovery of up to 2GB of data free. Works for recovering lost or deleted files and corrupted cards.
  • Stellar Data Recovery – Has a free 1GB recovery limit. Scans thoroughly and allows preview of recoverable files.
  • Recuva – From the makers of CCleaner, Recuva is free and supports deep scanning and file preview.

These free tools provide straightforward recovery workflows for SD cards. They scan your card, identify recoverable files, allow you to preview found files, and recover selected data to your computer.

What paid online SD card recovery services are available?

If the free services are not sufficient for your needs, here are some good paid online SD card recovery services:

  • Ontrack – Offers advanced recovery capabilities for seriously corrupted media. Free evaluation.
  • Stellar Data Recovery – Has scalable pricing tiers depending on your needs. 24/7 support.
  • EaseUS – Allows unlimited file recovery for a reasonable flat rate. Has positive reviews.
  • Disk Drill – Full scanning and unlimited recovery of all file types. Guaranteed recovery or your money back.

The advantage of paid services is that they provide unlimited data recovery, advanced scanning for severely damaged cards, priority customer support, and guarantees that all recoverable files will be restored. Pricing ranges from $40-$100 depending on the provider.

Can I recover data if I formatted my SD card?

Yes, if you accidentally formatted your SD card, recovery is often still possible. Formatting an SD card does not actually erase the data – it only removes the file system structure and marks the space on the card as available for new data.

As long as you have not overwritten the card by capturing new photos or files after formatting, recovery tools should be able to restore your photos and data. The sooner you run recovery after a format, the better.

How does the online data recovery process work?

Online SD card recovery utilizes software that runs on the provider’s servers, rather than downloading an application directly to your computer. The basic process involves:

  1. Connecting your SD card to your computer, either using a built-in SD card reader or external USB adapter.
  2. Uploading the complete contents of the SD card to the recovery provider’s secure servers.
  3. Running advanced scanning algorithms on the raw data to identify and reconstruct lost files.
  4. Previewing the files found by the software to select those you want to recover.
  5. Downloading the recovered files to your local computer.

This allows access to professional data recovery software without having to install any programs on your own system. The providers maintain the servers and software required.

What types of files can be recovered?

Online recovery services support restoring all the major types of files that may be stored on an SD card, including:

  • Digital photos – JPG, RAW, PNG, GIF
  • Videos – MP4, MOV, AVI, 3GP
  • Documents – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF
  • Audio – MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC
  • Archives – ZIP, RAR

Some services claim the ability to restore over 1000 different file formats from hard drives and removable media like SD cards. Unique file types from applications like accounting software or video games may be recoverable as well.

Can I recover data from a physically damaged SD card?

It depends on the type of physical damage, but recovery is sometimes possible even from broken SD cards:

  • Bent cards – Inserting a slightly bent card into a computer may allow data recovery if contacts are not damaged.
  • Non-working cards – Cards with failed controllers or flash memory can sometimes have data pulled off by forensic methods.
  • Broken/cracked cards – Careful repair work can temporarily restore function to some broken cards.
  • Water/fire damaged – SD cards dried quickly or briefly exposed to heat or flame may still function.

With physical damage, recovery costs rise due to the extra effort required. But reputable recovery firms have access to an array of specialized tools that can rescue data even from SD cards with significant physical damage, as long as the flash memory chips themselves remain intact.

What mistakes should be avoided when trying to recover SD card data?

To maximize your chances of successful data recovery, avoid these common mistakes:

  • Trying to fix file system errors using disk utility tools – This often makes problems worse.
  • Continuing to take photos or store files after discovering deleted files – This overwrites deleted data.
  • Leaving the SD card in a damaged device – This risks short circuits that can destroy data.
  • Exposing the SD card to extreme heat to dry it – High heat damages flash memory chips.
  • Disassembling the SD card – The small size makes this extremely difficult to do properly.

As soon as you realize data is lost or the card is damaged, stop using it immediately and seek professional recovery assistance for the best chance of restoring your files.

Can I recover data after reinitializing or reformatting an SD card?

Reinitializing or reformatting an SD card does not permanently erase data. The existing files and folders are marked as deleted, but remain on the card until new data overwrites them. Therefore, recovery is usually possible after reinitialization or reformat, as long as you avoid using the card further.

Recovery tools can locate and restore previously initialized/formatted SD cards as long as the flash memory remains physically intact. However, quick action is recommended, as overwriting deleted data through continued card use makes recovery much less feasible.

What are the costs for online SD card recovery services?

Costs for online SD card recovery depend on the provider and the extent of services required. Some typical costs are:

  • Free tools – Provide limited recovery, usually up to 1-2GB.
  • Flat-rate pricing – Typically $40-$100 for unlimited recovery of a single card.
  • Tiered pricing – Basic recovery starts under $100, with higher tiers over $200-$300 for severe cases.
  • Hourly rates – Some firms bill per hour for difficult recoveries, at rates of $200/hour or higher.

Many providers offer free evaluations to diagnose recoverability before any payment. For physically damaged cards, costs are higher and less predictable – evaluation helps determine feasibility and pricing.

How can I avoid needing data recovery services for SD cards in the future?

Some best practices to avoid potential data loss requiring recovery include:

  • Safely eject the SD card before removal from devices.
  • Use high-quality name brand SD cards from reliable manufacturers.
  • Frequently back up important photos and files from the SD card to other storage.
  • Avoid exposing SD cards to moisture, extreme heat or cold, or physical impacts.
  • Store SD cards properly in protective cases when not in use.
  • Frequently reformat cards to clear residual data and maintain optimal performance.

Carefully following these precautions reduces the likelihood of card corruption, damage, or accidental deletion that would require data recovery services.

Can lost data be recovered after an SD card is disposed of or recycled?

Recovering lost data from an SD card that has been disposed of or recycled is very difficult and unlikely. SD cards that have been:

  • Thrown in the trash – Nearly impossible to locate and retrieve.
  • Recycled – Shredded or destroyed during automated recycling processes.
  • Donated or resold – Wiped and reformatted by next user.

For the best chance of recovery, professional help should be sought immediately before the SD card undergoes disposal or recycling. Once it has entered a waste or recycling stream, recovery becomes unrealistic.

Can deleted files be recovered after formatting an SD card with a camera?

Yes, files deleted by formatting an SD card in-camera can often still be recovered. When a digital camera formats an SD card, it does not actually erase the data – it only removes file system information and resets the card to an empty state.

An unoccupied SD card with deleted file system information still contains the original data in its flash memory. Camera formats are simple logical formats, not deep physical formatting procedures. So specialized recovery software can rescan the card, rebuild broken file structures, and restore previously formatted photos and files.

What are the success rates for DIY data recovery vs. professional services?

Recovery Method Typical Success Rate
DIY Recovery Software 55-65%
Free Online Services 60-70%
Pro Online Services 80-90%
In-Lab Professional Recovery 90-99%

Professional recovery firms provide the highest success rates because of factors like:

  • Clean room facilities to recover data from physically damaged media.
  • Access to proprietary data recovery software and tools.
  • Specialization in specific brands and types of storage devices.
  • Experienced engineers providing manual assistance when needed.

But online and DIY recovery can still recover data in many common cases like accidental deletion or formatting. For best results choose professional services when dealing with valuable or irreplaceable data requiring the highest chance of successful recovery.

Can I recover data from the internal memory of a mobile phone?

It is possible to recover deleted data from the internal memory of mobile phones in many cases. Smartphone internal storage uses solid-state NAND flash memory chips similar to those found in SD cards and USB flash drives.

When files are deleted from internal phone memory, the data is not immediately erased. It remains in the flash storage until overwritten by new data. Professional mobile phone data recovery services utilize this fact to restore lost files.

The process involves obtaining a complete logical image or physical extraction of data from the phone memory chip. This raw image is then analyzed with proprietary recovery software to reconstruct deleted files and folders. Services supporting all major phones are available online and in-lab.


Recovering lost or deleted files from your SD card is often possible using free online tools or affordable professional recovery services. Before abandoning hope and valuable memories stored on an SD card, research recovery options that can frequently resurrect “lost” photos, videos, documents and other data. With the right software or service provider, complete recovery is possible in many scenarios without breaking the bank.