Public Service Announcement

The mangled remnants of digital photo data recovery

If you ever accidentally delete the contents of your digital camera’s memory card, or perhaps the lovely airport security people do it for you, please, oh please promise me you will remember one thing: do not take any more pictures.

I repeat: DO NOT TAKE MORE PHOTOS. Get a new memory card and snap away, but leave the damaged/deleted/old card alone.

As soon as you realize the pictures are gone, take the card out of your digital camera and set it on the side. There is a decent chance you can recover the images on the card after you download one of the various data recovery software options.

However, if you take another photo, even just one lousy photo of your foot to test if the camera is working properly, you will lose any remnant images. Gone. You can spend $90 and 12 hours trying to recover the data, but the best you will get is a handful of photos and fractured bits of images layered on top of one another. Just what you always wanted: plaid photographs!

Then the fun only gets better when you can call Canon for help the customer service guy makes fun of you for going all weepy on the phone. After all, it’s not his problem you lost 1,300 photographs. And really, “well, the manual clearly states you will lose your data if you continue to use the memory card once it’s been reformatted.”

So, for anyone out there who missed that line in the manual, THE TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY EIGHT PAGE MANUAL, I would like to take a moment to remind you, please, do not take any more pictures.

Thank you.

This has been a public service announcement.


  1. says

    Oh noooooooo! Does this mean what I think it means for you my friend? Such. Bad. Luck x

  2. says

    Oh s–t no, Peaches! I feel for you, man. That blows something horrible. Darn technology. This never would have happened if humans could just be content with simple things like film cameras or polaroids. But NO.

    Well, thanks just the same for the heads up.

  3. says

    I’m so sorry! I don’t even know what to say! 🙁

  4. says

    This is such valuable information!! It happened to me a couple of times because of my precious offspring (you may add the category:children right there next to the lovely security personnel)but I never tried to look for data recovery software (silly me!!).
    Thank you thank you thank you for the link I will bookmark it for future references.
    It is sad that we have to learn the hard way but, that’s life sometimes!!

  5. says

    Oh Gosh, I’m sorry you lost all your photos. I would have done the same thing, testing to make sure I could take a picture, and NO, I don’t read the entire manual. Do many of us? That is only when things break, right?

    I like that photo header, with all the collage to it, but knowing that it contains all of your memories must hurt. I’m sorry.

  6. says

    Oh Man… that’s awful. Just plain awful. What the heck happened at this airport? And how is it funny to cry over 1300 photos? I was in tears over 500 that were stolen with my camera.

  7. says

    Thanks guys. I appreciate y’all feeling my pain! Honest though, I salvaged enough that all is fine, but I really wouldn’t feel so bad if that Ass Hat on the phone didn’t try to make me thing this is something that EVERYONE knows…
    So maybe *one person* will read this and remember it and can avoid this mess themselves, then I can feel good about my own incident 🙂

    Thanks again guys, I can’t tell you how great it feels to be understood!

  8. says

    No, EVERYONE doesn’t know this. That really sucks. I’m glad you were able to salvage some of the photos. Here’s to better technology!

  9. Anonymous says

    Come on girl, turn this lemon into lemonade! Yes it sucks that the pics are lost, but the one you showed is actually quite cool. If you tried to make a collage photo, it probably wouldn’t turn out this well. So take these “mistakes” and turn them into art. Have a show at a gallery and turn the world on its ear. Craft a deep and meaningful artist statement about how your work emulates the layers and complexities of life and become a darling of the art world. Laugh all the way to the bank as people clammor for these impressive expressive mistakes. Lemonade woman, think lemonade!!

  10. says

    Oh, I feel your pain! Our memory card ate all 1200 of our honeymoon photos on the last day of our trip. I still have the memory card, three years later, and even though Sony said they couldn’t recover the files, maybe I will give one of these programs a shot.

  11. says

    Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that, Peaches. I work in IT so I deal with data loss every single solitary day, but it never gets any easier.

    I remember the first day I was importing a s*** ton of photos into iPhoto (or attempting to) and hit “delete” before confirming all of them were there. So many tears, so much chocolate.

  12. says

    What? Wait how does this happen? I generally upload trip photos to my husband’s laptop when we are travelling. Now I will for sure, but how did the memory card get reformatted??

  13. says

    Oh no!!! I have had my share of photo tragedies and so relate! The good news is I have no doubt you will take many more wonderful pics along the way 🙂

    xo Mary Jo

  14. says

    That is good to know! I am so sorry it happened to you.

  15. says

    Arrrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhh. There aren’t enough a’s, r’s, g’s or h’s in the world to write the argh I want to write. I had no idea, thank you ten million for the PSA. I love anon’s suggestion of taking some of the bits and pieces of your broken photos and making an art installation.

  16. says

    Great and significant tidbit to be shared… thanks, Auntie Peaches.

    I once lost a hard drive full of pics and was told that they’d “possibly” be retrievable, if I dredged up several hundred dollars and left my computer in a shop for a week. My son made a disc of whatever we had shared; and I spent said week searching “jpg” and “jpeg” on my hard drive. EVERYTHING was there… that simple.

    I do feel your pain, but I also love your too-cool collage, above!!

    Here’s to many more Kodak Moments.

  17. says

    OY VEY ZMIR! I’m all sweaty just thinking about it!

  18. says

    Oh no! That SUCKS!!!! And thanks for letting me know that, had no idea. 😛

  19. says

    Paula –good question! “reformatting” is a term on my camera (I think on all Canon cameras but don’t quote me.)….that means you wipe the slate clean on your memory card. Maybe it means other things too, I’m just not so knowledgeable about these things, but essentially it just means that you pressed a button that erased all the photos. A handy feature, but occasionally WAY-TOO-EASY to do accidentally.

    Anonymous–Good idea about making lemonade. You are right, some of these photos came out really cool. In good time I will see their beauty, but in the moment it is hard to swallow. I’ll get there 🙂

    Thanks for your comments everyone!

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