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How to Recover Deleted Files from an SDHC Card for FREE

How to Recover Deleted Files from an SDHC Card for FREE

Losing valuable files from an SDHC card can be a stressful experience, especially when they hold important data. Fortunately, there are several ways to recover deleted files from an SDHC card for free. Recovering deleted files involves using specific software that can restore data by accessing the underlying storage of the card, even after the files have been deleted. In this how-to guide, we’ll go through various methods to retrieve your lost data without spending a dime. Additionally, being aware of your SD card health is crucial, as it can affect the success of data recovery. Now, let us explore the different scenarios where you might need to recover files, along with detailed step-by-step guides for each recovery method.


Common Scenarios:

Frequent Format Mistakes 🔄

  • Accidentally selecting ‘Format’ when trying to eject your SDHC card from the computer.
  • Receiving a ‘Card is not formatted, format it now?’ error and mistakenly confirming the format process.
  • Using the SDHC card between different devices and inadvertently formatting it due to a device prompting.

Unintentional Deletions 🗑

  • Accidental selection of ‘Delete All’ option on your camera or other device.
  • Deleting files while browsing through the SDHC card on your computer without realizing their importance.
  • Using ‘Shift + Delete’ command on a computer, bypassing the recycle bin.

Technical Mishaps ⚙

  • SDHC card corruption leading to the loss of file structure and subsequently files.
  • Removing the SDHC card abruptly from a device or PC, causing data loss.
  • Troubles with partitioning or file system errors that result in inaccessible data.


Step-by-Step Guide. SDHC Card Recovery:

Method 1: Use Built-In Windows Tools 🛠

  • Insert the SDHC card into your PC using a card reader.
  • Open File Explorer and navigate to ‘This PC’.
  • Right-click on your SDHC card and select ‘Properties’ > ‘Previous Versions’.
  • If available, select a previous version of the folder where your file was stored and click ‘Restore’.

Note: This method works if you have System Restore enabled and the SDHC card has been included in a restore point.

Conclusion: While effective for those prepared, it may not work for all since not everyone keeps System Restore active.

Method 2: Use Recovery Software 🖥

  • Download and install a reputable file recovery software, such as Recuva from the official website.
  • Launch the program and select the option to recover files from media cards.
  • Choose your SDHC card on the software and run the scan.
  • Once the scan is complete, select the files you wish to recover and click ‘Recover’.

Note: The free version of most recovery software has limitations on file sizes or the number of files recoverable.

Conclusion: This is usually the most robust method if no backups are available. It’s user-friendly and generally reliable.

Method 3: Command Line Recovery 📝

  • Connect the SDHC card to your PC and make a note of its drive letter in File Explorer.
  • Open the Command Prompt as an administrator by searching for ‘cmd’ in the start menu.
  • Type ‘chkdsk X: /f’ (replace X with the drive letter of your SDHC card) and press Enter.
  • After the process completes, check the SDHC card directory for a newly created folder with your recovered files.

Note: This method may not always work, especially if the file system damage is significant.

Conclusion: A helpful free tool for minor corruptions but might not suffice for more substantial data loss scenarios.

Method 4: Employ Photo Recovery Software 📸

  • Download a photo recovery software like ZAR (Zero Assumption Recovery) from the official website.
  • Install and open the software, then select the ‘Image Recovery (Free)’ option.
  • Choose your SDHC card from the list and start the scan.
  • Select the images you need to recover once the scan finishes and save them to a different location.

Note: Make sure to recover files to your computer or another storage device, not the SDHC card itself.

Conclusion: This method is ideal for recovering photos and sometimes offers previews before recovery.

Method 5: Linux Data Recovery Tools 🐧

  • Boot up a Linux live CD/USB on your PC, ensuring that the SDHC card is connected.
  • Use tools such as Photorec included in the TestDisk suite, available on many Linux distributions.
  • Launch Photorec and follow the on-screen instructions to scan your SDHC card and restore files.

Note: Photorec works best for common file types like images, videos, and documents, but might not recover all file types.

Conclusion: Great for users comfortable with Linux; Photorec’s powerful algorithms can recover a wide variety of files.


Precautions and Tips:

Secure Your Data! 🔒

  • Always eject the SDHC card safely to prevent data corruption.
  • Consistently maintain backups of your important data on a separate device or cloud service.
  • Regularly check your SDHC card for errors using dedicated software or disk utility tools.
  • Don’t use the SDHC card after data loss to avoid overwriting the deleted files which can make recovery impossible.

Recovery Readiness 💾

  • Download data recovery software ahead of time; being prepared is key!
  • Stay informed about latest updates and patches for your recovery software.
  • Understand the file systems your SDHC card uses (e.g., FAT32, exFAT) to better approach recovery.


SDHC Card Care

Caring for your SDHC card is crucial to ensure a long lifespan and protect the data stored within. Be sure to handle your SDHC card with care, avoiding physical damage from drops or harsh environments. Use proper storage cases to keep the cards safe when not in use. Additionally, regularly perform error-checking and defragmentation (for FAT32 file systems) to maintain optimal performance.

When it comes to data recovery, remember that time is of the essence. As soon as you notice that files are missing, it’s best to start the recovery process. Continued use of the card can lead to new data overwriting the space where the deleted files reside, rendering them unrecoverable. So, the quicker you act, the better your chances of full recovery.


In summary, recovering deleted files from an SDHC card for free is possible through a variety of methods, each with its own set of advantages. From built-in tools available in your operating system to specialized recovery software, you stand a good chance of retrieving your precious data. It’s important to act quickly and handle the card carefully to prevent further data loss.

Being proactive about SDHC card health and routine maintenance is also an excellent strategy to avoid the need for recovery in the first place. Now that you are equipped with the knowledge and tools to address data loss on your SDHC card, you can feel more secure in managing and protecting your digital files.


SDHC card recovery involves retrieving lost, deleted, or inaccessible data from a Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) memory card. It's typically required after accidental deletions, format errors, or card malfunctions.

Yes, files from a formatted SDHC card can often be restored as long as new data hasn't overwritten the original files. Recovery software can assist in this process.

Data loss on SDHC cards can be due to accidental deletion, physical damage, corruption, formatting, virus infections, or software errors.

Many free tools like PhotoRec offer basic SDHC card recovery functionalities helpful for simple data retrieval tasks.

Regularly back up your data, safely remove the SDHC card from devices, and avoid exposing the card to extreme conditions to prevent future data loss.

Corrupted files can sometimes be recovered from an SDHC card using specialized recovery software that rebuilds or repairs the damaged files.

Stop using the SDHC card immediately to avoid overwriting the data. Then, use a reliable recovery software or service to attempt data retrieval.

Professional services might offer a higher success rate, especially for complex cases, but recovery software is a cost-effective first step.

Select software known for high success rates with SDHC cards and ensure it supports your card's file system. Look for user-friendly interfaces and preview options.

Dependable SDHC card recovery services can be found at reputable data recovery companies such as