Can you recover data from SD cards?

We use SD cards everywhere. In our phones, tablets, digital cameras, Raspberry Pi and other devices with expandable memory. They are cheap, easy to use and can be swapped out in seconds. But can you recover data from one if you accidentally delete or erase it?

Yes we can. This is another common issue we see here at Dave’s Computers in New Jersey. Our data recovery team often deal with photographers or others who use SD cards in their devices. The medium works differently to a hard drive but uses the same principles to store data. Therefore we can use similar principles to recover it.

SD card data

SD cards use a different file format than Windows or Mac but the same storage principles. The SD card is divided into sectors that are given an index reference. Data is stored within each sector and the index is updated with a code telling it what’s stored inside it. When you delete a file, it is the index that is wiped, not the actual data.

As long as you don’t overwrite the data, it is accessible and therefore recoverable.

The important thing there is not overwriting the data before we can get to it. It’s a common issue with data recovery. Storage can seemingly overwrite randomly. As the index of that memory sector is empty, the device thinks it is available to write new data. If you continue using the device, that data may become overwritten.

That’s why we always tell customers to stop using their device immediately they realize they have overwritten, deleted or otherwise lost their data. It is to prevent any of that data being overwritten. Once overwritten it is no longer recoverable.

SD card data recovery

We have some specialist tools here at Dave’s Computers that can retrieve data from SD cards. As long as the card itself has not been damaged and is otherwise working, we stand a very good chance of recovering any data not overwritten.

Our tools can identify existing data within sectors with no index and retrieve them ready for recovery. The process is the same for computers and while it takes a long time, it is very effective.

There are lots of programs on the market that offer to retrieve data from SD cards. Some of them work very well. I would say that if you’re confident in retrieving your data, you could use one. If you’re not confident in using them or you have data you really cannot lose, bring the card to us.