How to retrieve deleted Photos?

We all have experienced accidentally deleting important photos from our phones or computers at some point. Losing meaningful memories can be extremely upsetting. The good news is, with the right tools and techniques, you can often recover deleted photos.

Can You Recover Deleted Photos?

In most cases, yes you can retrieve deleted photos. When you delete a photo, the operating system does not immediately wipe the data from your storage device. Instead, it simply marks the space occupied by the photo as available for new data. The original photo data remains on the device until it gets overwritten by something else.

As long as the original photo data still exists and has not been overwritten, recovery software can scan the storage device, find the marked but intact photo data, and restore it. However, it is important to act quickly before the original data gets overwritten. The longer you wait, the lower your chances of recovery success.

When Are Deleted Photos Impossible to Recover?

There are a few scenarios where it becomes impossible to recover deleted photos:

  • If the storage device itself is physically damaged or corrupted, the original photo data may be unreadable.
  • If the deleted photo space has been completely overwritten by new data, there is no way to get it back.
  • Some storage devices and camera memory cards may automatically trim and erase deleted data after a certain period of time. If this time window has passed, the photos are likely gone for good.
  • In the case of cloud storage services like iCloud or Google Photos, the service provider may not keep deleted items after a certain number of days. The retention period varies across providers.

Therefore, it is crucial to act fast and use data recovery methods before the deleted photos are rendered unrecoverable by any of the above factors. The sooner you attempt recovery, the better your chances.

How to Recover Deleted Photos from a Computer

Here are some ways to recover deleted photos from a computer hard drive:

1. Use Data Recovery Software

Data recovery software is the most effective way to retrieve lost photos on a computer. Applications like Stellar Photo Recovery, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery can quickly scan a storage drive and restore deleted photos.

Follow these general steps when using photo recovery software:

  1. Download and install a reputable recovery program on your computer.
  2. Select the drive or device that contained the lost photos.
  3. The software will scan the drive and display results.
  4. Preview and select the photos you wish to recover.
  5. Choose a different drive or external media to save the recovered photos to.

Recovery software is highly effective when used shortly after photo deletion, before overwritten data makes files unrecoverable.

2. Restore from Backups

If you regularly back up your computer to an external hard drive or cloud backup service, you may be able to restore the deleted photos from a backup. Connect the backup drive to your computer or sign into your cloud account. Locate previous backup versions containing the lost files. Restore the photos to your system from that backup.

3. Retrieve from Trash or Recycle Bin

When you delete photos on your computer, they may go to a Trash or Recycle Bin folder before being permanently erased. Open the Trash/Recycle Bin on your desktop and see if the photos are still there. You can often restore them to their original location.

4. Use File Recovery Software

If you deleted photos from the computer a while back and did not backup, try using free file recovery software like Recuva, PhotoRec, or TestDisk. They can scan the storage drive for recoverable photo data even if you emptied the trash long ago.

5. Extract Thumbnail Previews

Your system may store thumbnail previews of photos separately from the photos themselves. If recover is unsuccessful, extraction tools like ThumbsPlus can pull thumbnail images from the drive. The quality is limited, but some preview is better than nothing.

How to Recover Deleted Photos from a Phone

Here are some ways to restore deleted photos on mobile devices:

1. Retrieve from Recently Deleted Folder

Most phones have a “Recently Deleted” folder that temporarily stores erased photos. The length of storage varies by device and settings. Check this folder quickly after deletion to rescue photos before they disappear forever.

2. Use Mobile Data Recovery Apps

Apps like iMyFone D-Back for iOS and DiskDigger for Android can efficiently scan your phone and restore recently deleted photos. Some phones may require root or jailbreak access for deeper data recovery capabilities.

3. Connect Phone to a Computer

Use a USB cable to connect your phone to a computer. Launch data recovery software on the computer to scan the phone’s storage. This provides access to deleted photo data from a different interface. You can also try plugging the phone into photo management apps like iPhoto or iExplorer, which may reveal deleted items.

4. Extract from iCloud or Google Photos Backups

If your phone automatically backed up to the cloud before deletion occurred, you can restore the photos from those backups. Log into iCloud or Google Photos on a web browser, find the appropriate backup date, and download the photos to your computer or phone.

5. Recover Data from Phone Internal Memory

As a last resort, retrieve data directly from phone internal memory chips using specialty tools like PhoneBreaker. This method is complex and only possible if the memory chips remain undamaged. Proceed with caution to avoid data loss.

How to Recover Deleted Photos from a Camera

Here are some tactics for resuscitating deleted photos from digital cameras and memory cards:

1. Restore from Camera Trash Folder

Most digital cameras have a trash folder or similar that contains recently deleted items. Check it quickly after erasing photos to try and rescue them.

2. Use a Data Recovery Program

Connect the camera or memory card to a computer and run data recovery software. Programs like Recuva and Stellar have special modules optimized for camera and card recovery.

3. Attempt File Carving

File carving can extract photo data directly from a memory card without relying on file systems. Try carving tools like CGSecurity TestDisk PhotoRec or Disk Drill.

4. Restore from a Camera Backup

If your camera connected to cloud storage or a computer before deletion, search those sources for backed up versions of the lost photos.

5. Use Specialty Camera Recovery Services

For difficult cases involving reformatted cards or corrupted camera memory, companies like Gerber Recovery Labs offer data recovery services. This costs money but can often restore photos even when DIY options fail.

Tips to Avoid Deleted Photo Disasters

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to photo loss. Here are some handy tips to avoid messy deletion incidents in the first place:

  • Back up your photos regularly to both local and cloud storage.
  • Enable phone and camera trash/recycle bins to keep deletions recoverable.
  • Be extremely careful when selecting items to delete in bulk.
  • Temporarily move photos to a different folder before deletion if unsure.
  • Know exactly where your photos are auto-saving to.
  • Eject external media properly before disconnecting.
  • Use memory cards appropriately and don’t re-format needlessly.
  • Maintain backups of valuable photo masters and RAW files.

Can You Pay to Recover Deleted Photos?

Yes, there are professional data recovery services that can attempt to restore deleted photos for a fee. This is really the last resort for irreplaceable photos where you’ve exhausted all DIY methods without success.

Costs vary widely based on service provider and recovery complexity. Some examples:

  • $100-$300 for basic deleted file recovery from a storage device.
  • $300-$800 for difficult recoveries from reformatted or physically damaged drives.
  • $1000+ for specialized methods like forensic-level data reconstruction.

When choosing a paid service, look for an experienced company with a high success rate like DriveSavers, Gillware or Data-Medics. Get an upfront quote for the cost. And know that even the pros can’t guarantee recovery of deleted photos in every case.

Can Deleting Photos be Undone?

Provided the original photo data still exists and is intact, the deletion can usually be undone. As soon as you realize photos were erased, take steps to recover them before they get overwritten. Data recovery software should be able to restore them in most cases if you act quickly enough.

However, prevention is the best policy when it comes to photo loss. Always maintain multiple backups of your important images so accidental deletion is not a catastrophe. With proper habits, you can minimize ever needing to restore deleted photos in the first place.


Recovering deleted photos may seem daunting at first. But thanks to the wonders of data recovery technology, accidentally erased pictures are often salvageable. If you act fast to stop overwritten files and use the right software or professional help, you have an excellent chance of getting back what was lost. Just don’t wait too long before attempting recovery.

Going forward, be extra cautious before deleting photos. Keep them diligently backed up. And you’ll never have to panic when something gets erased again. With some effort, those deletions need not be permanent, but rather just a temporary scare!