I recently made a big mistake with one of my memory cards. When I am out shooting and have multiple cards with me, I store the cards in my Think Tank card holder. In order to manage my cards, I use the very complicated system of front and back storage.

If the card is ready to be put into the camera, I have the front of the card facing out. If the card has images that haven’t been downloaded, the cards are stored with the back of the card facing out. That way when I need a new card in the field, I know which ones to grab. It also works back at the computer letting me know which cards to download and backup. The system has worked great for years….

I somehow put a card in the wrong direction the other day. As a result I grabbed a card, formatted it in the camera and then started shooting. When I got back to the computer and downloaded the images for the day, I realized I was missing some images. And then there was that oh crap feeling and I realized I had formatted a card without downloading the files.

Having a background in IT, I knew that the files were not technically deleted when I formatted the card AND that there might be a chance to see the images again if I could run a recovery on the card. While the chance of recovery varies with the amount of data overwritten by new data, some strange work you do with a Voodoo doll and a jump it the 7 level of Dante’s Inferno, I knew I had to try something.

I have two go to programs for data recovery on my Mac. I have paid for both and used both on occasion. The one program that seems always to work for me when I need it is PhotoRescue. I ran the basic rescue and was able to see my thumbnails for the files I deleted, but wasn’t able to recover the RAW files, but when I ran an advanced recovery with all the options selected my files were found and safely returned to my hard drive. It took overnight because the process to recover the data off a 64GB card wasn’t fast, but it worked.

Now I wouldn’t recommend that you rely on this method of storage and recovery for your photos on a regular basis, but having software like PhotoRescue in the tool belt is something no photographer should be without. It is easy to get busy and make a mistake and having some hope for things being recovered when they go missing is at least a little piece of mind.

You can get Photo Rescue over here for $29.