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Have you ever run into the problem of taking pictures (digital) and after downloading, you saw the JPG file got corrupted? For me after many years and tens of thousands of pictures I just run into this problem for the first time this morning. I guess lucky me, right?

Here is how one of my corrupted images looked like:

Corrupted JPEG

Corrupted JPEG

Not pretty.

If you want to skip to the solution that has worked for me, feel free to scroll down. But if you are interested in a little bit of storytelling, just keep reading…

So this corrupted image on the other hand brought back childhood memories, when more than two decades ago our family pictures in this quality were considered great color pictures…

Needless to say despite of the nice old memories, today such image quality is not acceptable. Not that I do not have thousands of other pictures of my little daughter, but I have a phobia: even if I would lose one picture of her I feel like I am missing on properly preserving her childhood.

Long story short: we had some face painting fun with my daughters Friday night and the thought of losing any of the pictures from that evening was not very comforting. This was the same card that had our New Years Eve party pictures. So I had to find a solution. So first thing first, I have checked the pictures on the memory card (SD), but unfortunately following my general practice, I have moved the images already to my portable HDD.

Moved files not visible on the source drive anymore

Moved files not visible on the source drive anymore

Few days ago, when I checked the New Years Eve pictures still on the memory card, they all looked OK, so they got corrupted either on the memory card while using the card during the face painting fun or during copying. Another chance is that my portable HDD has some problems and the images got corrupted after copying, so I will check later also the HDD itself for defects.

Since I moved the files instead of copying, Windows XP (no, I do not live under a rock…). Tried to open the corrupted image with various freeware viewers, but no difference, they all looked the same: corrupted. Strangely enough Windows thumbnails showed the image just fine, but needless to say, that I wanted a bit larger resolution than a thumbnail.

Thumbnail of corrupted image looks fine

Thumbnail of corrupted image looks fine

So here is the solution that helped at least my case. If it is going to help your problem, I do not know, but like in every difficult situation, it worth a try.

Very important: make sure you will NOT write onto your memory card in any way!!!

Finally here are the steps I have followed:

  1. Download a free software application called PC Inspector – File Recovery from here

    PC Inspector - File Recovery website

    PC Inspector - File Recovery website

  2. Create a folder on your HDD (DO NOT create your backup folder on the same memory card where your lost files are)
  3. Install it on your computer and launch it
  4. Select the drive (in my case it was the Removable Disk => SD card) you are trying to recover images from

    PC Inspector – File Recovery: Selecting drive to recover from

    PC Inspector – File Recovery: Selecting drive to recover from

  5. Select from the list of available/recoverable files (Windows XP was not seeing those file on my SD card as they were already deleted)

    PC Inspector - File Recovery: select files to recover

    PC Inspector - File Recovery: select files to recover

  6. Click on the SAVE icon (second icon from the top on the left ) and select the folder you created under step #2

    PC Inspector - File Recovery: select where to save the recovered files

    PC Inspector - File Recovery: select where to save the recovered files

  7. Wait until the recovery is completed => there is a nice progress bar. Depending on the number and the size of the files you are trying to recover it can take several minutes to complete the recovery

    PC Inspector - File Recovery: recovering files in progress

    PC Inspector - File Recovery: recovering files in progress

  8. Verify that your recovered images are OK

    PC Inspection - File Recovery: before(left)-after(right) comparison

    PC Inspection - File Recovery: before(left)-after(right) comparison

In my case this nice tool has been able to recover about 80% of my corrupted images. Some images even after using this tool were still corrupted, but most of them were recovered perfectly. 80% is a very good rate in my opinion.

some images were not recoverable

some images were not recoverable

For me this has been the very first occasion that I used this tool, so I do not have much experience with it. If you have a few minutes, please share as a comment your experience with this tool for reference. If you are aware of any better tool, please share it here for everybody’s benefit.

In case of any questions, please let me know.

Good luck!

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