Sometimes camera memory cards go bust, and I was asked to recover files from one.
The camera simply said “format error”.
Inserting the card into a computer told me that the card needs to be formatted first before the computer can read it.
It has been drilled into me that one needs to backup, backup and do more backup, with as small a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) as possible. A local tech-savvy doctor using a PC to keep track of his patients’ case told me that he makes not one, not two, but FIVE backups every day.
So what do you do when there’s no backup, and by hook or by crook you need to rescue data?
I heartily recommend TestDisk (with PhotoRec included). Not only is it free (open source), it works. Before that, I tried the free version of Recuva, but it failed to even start, saying it’s “unable to read boot sector”. And Handy Recovery costs a relative bomb, so forget that.
Using PhotoRec, I managed to recover all the files, almost 300 of them, in less than 15 minutes.
Following that, using Windows Vista, I was not even able to reformat the card, but using TestDisk, I did.
Therefore, try this solution before you go for paid and “pro” software.