Jim Doty - Photo Blog

Photography: Photos, News, and Tips
Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ohio Sunset
Ohio Sunset. Photo copyright (c) Jim Doty, Jr.

It finally happened. I formatted a compactflash card in my camera BEFORE I downloaded the photos and burned them to disc. PANIC. I didn't mean to do it, but I did. My photos were gone - or so it seemed when I looked for them on the screeen on the back of my camera. The camera said "No Image".

If this happens to you, the first thing to remember is: Don't take a picture or do anything else that involves writing to the card. Take the memory card out of the camera.

When you format a memory card in the camera, you aren't actually erasing the photos. You simple start with a clean slate so far as the file structure is concerned so the camera can write over the existing photos with new ones.

RescuePRO software came with my SanDisk Extreme III memory cards. I installed the software on my computer, put the compactflash card in the card reader, and told RescuePRO to look on the card for photos.

It found all 30 of the Ohio photos I had accidentally formatted into electronic oblivion. The photo at the top of this post is one that was recovered. The software also found almost three hundred Colorado photos I had deliberately formatted out of existence before I began taking the Ohio photos. It also found one photo from long before my Colorado trip. In all, the software found the last three "generations" of photos that were still living on the card. It was like going back through time. Of course, once you write over a photo with a new one, it is gone. 30 of the Colorado photos were gone due to being written over by the Ohio photos. That was ok since I had downloaded the Colorado photos and burned them to disc.

Just in case you make the same mistake, get some photo recovery software now. The RescuePRO software from SanDisk worked very well and is one good option. Install the software on your computer. If you accidentally format a memory card, take it out of the camera and use your photo recovery software to get your photos back.

It would be worthwhile to take a card you have already downloaded, format it, then use your software just to see how it works.


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