My SD Card Failed and This Was a Huge Lifesaver

Recently, one of my SD cards failed on me when I trying to access it. After I inserted it into my Transcend card reader, I was able to access the card momentarily until the folders abruptly closed down, preventing any further access to the data. As you can imagine, this was quite concerning to me. 

Fortunately, a company called Stellar Recovery reached out to me asking if I wanted to review their software. This was quite a strange yet very welcome coincidence, and in my latest video, I test the software on an actual failed SD card. In my career as a photographer, I've had approximately four storage devices fail on me. It's unfortunate, but it does happen, and the most recent failure was much harder for me to swallow. The images on the card were ones that I needed, and I was a little careless, as I had not previously backed up all of the files. In any case, I have now managed to recover all of the required files due to Stellar, and I'm very pleased to have those images back. 

Since uploading the video, I have received some really helpful suggestions on how to ensure I can recover data more effectively in the future. For the most part, I've been told not to format the card before I perform any recoveries. This is because performing a quick format as I do in the video creates new directories on the storage device, and this could inadvertently overwrite existing data that you may want to recover.

I am by no means an expert when it comes to recovering data, so please check out the video and let me know if you have any of your own suggestions on how to recover data more effectively. Ultimately, I'm very pleased that I have been able to recover the images and files I needed, and I highly recommend Stella Recovery. 

Log in or register to post comments


Previous comments
Logan Cressler's picture

27,000 weddings = 3 weddings a day, 365 days a year, without a single day off, for 25 years.

Sniff, sniff, I smell something.....

Unless he is some sort of vegas wedding photographer shooting 5-minute weddings, I call BULLSHIT.

Also, I don't know why your personal campaign is to try and prove cards cannot be corrupted as if it never happens when there is tons of evidence of it happening.

But your standard of truth needs to be raised a bit. Be careful who you listen to, as I believe your bullshit-o-meter is completely broken, or at the minimum, needs to be calibrated.

Usman Dawood's picture

I think he's being sarcastic lol. Also, I think he probably meant to say 27000 images, which is probably about 20 weddings.

Logan Cressler's picture

He may have been being sarcastic, but I didn't pick up on it although I do now. However, others did not pick up on it either which only spreads more disinformation. I will leave this here for the other dense people among us like myself

Logan, I guess you didn't pick up that I was being sarcastic after watching Jherry's dubious claims on how he has never lost one image. What I don't get is how you are claiming I am spreading "more disinformation' when you posted the exact quote I posted that is above your reply!

I have seen interviews where he has stated he has NOT lost any images. Now it's Ihe only lost images on CF cards! Which is convenient when discussing the Nikon Z single card slot issue.

So if you missed my original post here in case you missed it:

"I have photographed well over 1,000 weddings (and more than two-thirds of them on a digital camera) and I only ever had a problem with two memory cards in my career – both were compact flash cards and the images were ultimately recovered. I have been shooting digitally since 2001 and it was only until a few years ago that some pros started using the 2nd card slot as a back-up (rather than for overflow). We have all become used to that luxury and now feel like it is a “must have,” which I completely understand. That said, I have more confidence because the camera will reject an XQD card that is suspect. The XQD (and pending CFexpress) form factor is also stronger, faster and far more reliable than anything else on the market. I personally have never experienced a problem with an XQD card nor have I heard of anyone else having an issue." - Ghenny Ghionis

FYI this software is $49(discounted) for an annual subscription. I was looking at Prograde recovery software and that is also an annual subscription. Anyone know software that is not subscription? I probably use this once a year or less.

Usman Dawood's picture

Stellar does offer an option to buy a lifetime license which is not a subscription.

Ok I looked but only seems to offer 1 to 2 year sub.

I used to use Photorescue ($29) and Lexar but they are both discontinued. I guess it is best to pay for a subscription as that ensures they keep updating it.

Usman Dawood's picture

Have a look at this link, please. I can select a lifetime license for the premium version.

Personally, I think the $29.00 option might be better value for money but whichever you prefer really.

Great, thanks.

Glad you got your data back - the only thing I heard that scared me was that you could go back to using that card now it was repaired. Me personally, I would take it to the end of a long pier and teach it to swim... Just the coward in me, but once bitten on those things...

Yep, that card would be dead to me...

Usman Dawood's picture

You're right, a couple of people pointed that out to me so I won't be using that card again. Thank you, much appreciated :).

JetCity Ninja's picture

agreed for most people.

for not most people, if you know what you're doing you can determine if it was simply a formatting/write error or a hardware error. the latter means the card is dead and should be disposed of. the former could've been one of any number of things, from a software bug, static electricity, contact error, incomplete formatting, etc. the recovery process, success, and testing the pins of the card would reveal where the fault truly lies. of course, with the low cost of SD cards, i wouldn't put too much effort into troubleshooting once a recovery has been successfully made and would just toss the card. if it's an XQD, CFast or CFExpress, it'd be a different story.

i also highly recommend buying only solid SD cards, like the Sony Tough series, ProGrade, or the new Lexar Pro series. the shell is solid molded, single piece units or dual piece but resin filled. this prevents the card from flexing and possibly creating open circuits within. just my observation.

i mention the latter bit only because i have one of the cards in the video, gifted when i'd purchased something else. honestly, it's trash. simply putting it side by side with one of my lexar or sony cards, then very lightly trying to bend it reveals just how fragile it is. if you don't want to bend it, pinch it, and you'll discover it's hollow with a very, very thin shell. that flex can easily cause issues with the soldered and very fragile pinouts.

"Many photographers also are in the habit of using their memory cards until they fail. As with any consumable piece of equipment that we use, we should be replacing them regularly to prevent failures from happening. Shooting with smaller cards, sending your JPEGs to a portable device wirelessly, and taking care when inserting your card into a card reader, etc. are also good habits to develop." - Ghenny "1k" Jhionis

Motti Bembaron's picture

Here is a great video. The photographer experienced a power surge while the card was downloading and it all went to hell. He managed to download it from his second card.

I don't really do events anymore, regardless, I will never work with one card. I lost three cards (and everything in them naturally) in the last three years.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

Yeah, I'm always in the habit of not using battery back-ups or surge protectors on my expensive computers.

Motti Bembaron's picture

If you saw the video, before your thumb down :-), you would see that he has back-ups and surge protector. The lightning fried everything. It was not enough. He installed a special high voltage global protector that I bet most never even thought of using.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

He needs better surge protectors then. Probably using POS Target low grade Tripp-Lites or APCs. Quality reliable SP are $500+ just like NAS servers.

Motti Bembaron's picture

And how many really have that kind of surge protection? I don't. I have SyberPower 1500 and so far so good. My computer is connected to a surge protector and then to the SyberPower. However, if I get a direct lightning hit I doubt it would help.

The point is (after all that), it is better to have two cards recording in the camera, you just never know.

Robert Nurse's picture

I wonder if the Windows format differs from the in-camera format.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

NEVER EVER format any card in a computer. After you have downloaded a card, insert it back in the camera and format it in the camera. Same goes for deleting image files in-camera. It can corrupt the card. Just keep shooting and delete it after DL'ing the entire card.

Usman Dawood's picture

I've been told it does. I probably did the wrong thing by formatting it on my computer and maybe should have formatted in camera instead.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Who probably did it right by doing a quick format on your computer for recovery purposes. Reason I say this is, once I inadvertently started to format a card (I meant to clean the sensor but muscle memory got the better of me). It got almost half way on the progress bar before I shut the camera down. We were on vacation so kept the card unused until we got home. I must have tried about 3 different recovery software, no luck. There was literally nothing recoverable. There goes my Venice, Italy memory. Sniff sniff.

Again, who knows, maybe by me shutting down the camera caused everything to be lost. Or, the in-camera formatting is much more aggressive in deleting stuff. Notice how it takes longer to format in-camera vs on a computer.

Why not just go to your other card from your second slot?

C Fisher's picture

Try Disk Digger, it's free

If you google PC Smart Recovery you will find a German software company that has outstanding freeware for this. I have used it for many years -- even forensically -- to recover images. There are two versions: one for image recovery and one for PC hard drive issues. I have seen cards of all types fail with the exception of XQD.