There’s nothing worse than losing precious photos from your digital camera, video from your camcorder, documents or other data saved on an SD card. Help is at hand though as we’ve looked at the best SD recovery software for Mac in 2018. You may not realize it but just because files have apparently been deleted, erased or corrupted on an SD card, they may actually still be there. SD recovery software can sometimes locate underlying data in SanDisk SD or MicroSD cards which can magically recover your photos, videos, documents and other files. Below then is our list of the best Mac software to recover data from SD cards in order of ranking.
Disk Drill is an effective and well designed SD recovery tool for OS X that can rescue documents, music, photos and videos. It can also help if you’re having problems accessing an SD card via a card reader plugged into a USB port or into the SD card reader on your Mac. Disk Drill can recover any file format and if it can’t recover it completely, it tries to reconstruct it so that it’s at least accessible if not entirely complete. Disk Drill will also check your SD card to check its health and indicate whether it is failing. Disk Drill will indicate which files it has found and which can be recovered – the free trial will also allow you to see this so it’s a good way of checking before deciding to purchase. In the paid version, you can preview files before recovery to check which ones can be recovered.
If you want something that’s simply click and recover, Disk Drill is a about as easy as it gets.
A bonus with Disk Drill is that you get several extra free tools included including a disk cleaner, duplicate finder, backup tool and a disk health monitor. We can’t vouch for the effectiveness of these tools and they seem pretty basic but they’re easy to use, with slick interfaces that can help get your Mac hard drive in order if you’ve been having problems with it running slow, running out of space etc (we recommend reading our guide on how to check storage on Mac and find large files if your Mac is frequently running out of hard drive space.
Stella Phoenix Photo Recovery can restore everything from photos, audios, & videos to MXF movies, HD-MOV files, and Adobe EPS files. It’s certainly one of the most flexible SD card recovery tools for Mac users with wide support for just about any conceivable file type. It will even try to recover data from encrypted hard drives and SD cards formatted in HFS+, FAT32, ExFAT, and NTFS systems. It’s also one of the few that will scan SD cards above 2TB although currently, there aren’t many manufacturers that make SD cards with such high-capacity.
Stella Phoenix Photo Recovery costs $49.99 for the basic version although you can scan for files using the free trial. If your files are corrupted however, you’ll need to purchase the Titanium version which costs $99.
CardRescue is designed to recover lost photos from SD, SDHC, SDXC, MicroSD, MicroSDHC), CF (Compact Flash), xD Picture Cards and Memory Sticks up to a capacity of 256 GB. CardRescue takes between 10-20 minutes to recover photos depending on the size of the SD card and supports most major image formats such as JPG, TIF and most raw propriety image formats such as Nikon NEF, Canon CRW and CR2. CardRescue also retrieval of video and movie clips in AVI, MOV and AVCHD format.
CardRescue costs $49.99 to recover files but you can use the free trial to preview files.
So far we’ve looked at paid SD recovery apps but there is also free software to recover lost data from SD cards is open source. These can only be used via the command line in Terminal and so they aren’t user-friendly to those without technical knowledge although PhotoRec has recently introduced a simple graphical user interface (GUI). If you are comfortable using Terminal, you can try TestDisk although you’ll probably have more luck with PhotoRec anyway, especially if it’s images you’ve lost.
TestDisk is a remarkably effective free data recovery software designed mainly to help recover lost partitions or restore non-booting disks bootable again. TestDisk can fix partition tables, recover deleted partitions, recover FAT32 boot sectors, rebuild FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sectors, fix FAT tables and more. The main problem with TestDisk is that there’s no GUI – it’s command line only via Terminal. However, the command line menu is quite easy to follow and it will even create a dump of info about a non-booting drive or SD card that can be analyzed by an expert for problems. If you need to recover photos however, we recommend PhotoRec below which is focused more on recovering actual files than partitions and boot sectors. TestDisk is still however worth a try if all else fails.
PhotoRec is another open source free SD recovery tool which can rescue lost files including photos, videos, documents from hard disks, CD-ROM and memory cards. PhotoRec seeks the base data on an SD card so that even if data has been damaged in the top file system, it can sometimes still recover data. PhotoRec is the companion program to TestDisk although you can use it independently and the good thing is that the most recent version has an easy to use GUI compared to TestDisk. PhotoRec uses read-only access to prevent accidentally writing over data which means that you need a secondary location – such as your Mac hard drive – to save lost files. PhotoRec will not write the recovered files to the same partition or disk that they were originally stored on.
SD Recovery Software For Mac Essentials
Before you choose which SD recovery software to use, there’s a few useful things to know about to avoid disappointment and improve your chances of recovering lost data.
- Most SD recovery software isn’t free. SD card data recovery is a complex process and although most SD recovery software have free trials although the trials usually only let you see or preview which files can be recovered if any. The most they will allow for free is recovery of a few files. However, there are a few open source tools which can recovery data from SD cards – see more in the section on the best free SD recovery software for Mac.
- There are some unscrupulous developers out there that claim to offer paid Mac SD recovery software but in actual fact just wrap their own interface around free open source recovery software. We have not featured these types of vendors here as they are taking open source software released under the GNU license and then repackaging it as their own.
- Not all data is recoverable. If your files or images are badly corrupted or the SD card damaged, it’s usually impossible to restore data from SD cards. The chances of recovering all or some of your data depends on many things such is the type of SD card, the file type, how the data was deleted, whether additional data has been saved on top of lost files among many other things. There are no guarantees that any of the software featured here can recover data from your SD card but the SD recovery software for Mac reviewed here are the best in the business at doing so.
- Many things can cause data to be lost on an SD card but the most common causes are physical damage to the card, incorrect removal or insertion, a camera that incorrectly formats or reformat cards, memory card corruption, file structure errors, viruses, sudden removal or turning cameras off unexpectedly and switching SD cards between different devices.
- In the case of digital images, most digital cameras do not wipe pictures completely from your storage card. Sometimes they just remove the filenames and file entries such as the file name, time stamp, file length etc. The actual photo and movie data remain unchanged which is where SD recovery software can help. Note however that not all cameras or SD cards work this way and in most cases, they delete all data.
- Never try to save new data onto an SD card that you’re trying to recover data from. For example, it’s much harder to recover data from an SD card if you’ve recently taken new photos and saved them to the card since the card’s file system will be overwritten. In these cases only some photos that have not been overwritten by new data may be recoverable.
- If you’re simply receiving error messages when you insert a memory card or SD card, recovery software can sometimes bypass the original file system and retrieve sectors of data using lower level access to the card.
- The best protection against SD card loss or damage is to always backup your files regularly on an external device. Check out our guide to the best external hard drive for Mac for some cost effective and reliable external backup solutions.
- Prior to 2016, MacBook Pros had an SDXC card reader slot built in but Apple has since removed them in new TouchBar MacBook Pros. The SD card reader slot in older MacBook Pros can read standard sized SD cards and MicroSD cards placed in an SD card holder.If you don’t have an SD card reader in your Mac, you can either purchase a USB SD card reader or a Thunderbolt SD card reader.
There isn’t a great deal of choice when it comes to SD recovery software for Mac but of those that exist, these are definitely the best ones. Since it’s free to use, PhotoRec is definitely worth a try at first especially now that it has an easier to use GUI making it more accessible to Mac users of all abilities. However, if it doesn’t work, Disk Drill is definitely the most effective paid software at recovering lost or corrupted files on SD cards on Mac.
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding SD recovery software on Mac, let us know in the comments below or get in touch directly.