A few weeks ago we had a chance to test the upcoming Panasonic S1 camera. As part of this upcoming coverage we shot quite a few B-roll videos, however, when we got back to our studio and transferred the videos from our Sandisk memory card to our computer, an unexplained event happened which abruptly stopped the transfer of files from the memory card.
At this point, we didn’t have a lot of options and eventually, we had to pull out the card which caused a situation where it was not recognized by the computer or camera anymore. After reading a little bit on the topic we realized that the best course of action will be to do a quick format on the card so that we can access it and try to restore the files – which we did.
Now we had the task to restore the deleted files. We tried a few options – Recuva, for example, was able to find the files after quite a long analysis and bring them back, however they were not usable. We tried to fix them using all sorts of different software and services and we tested over a dozen different options.
There are countless different software and services which claim they can recover lost or corrupt images and video files. Sufficed to say that most of those are either complete rubbish or worse – they include some sort of spyware/malware or some other unwanted junk. Let’s just say that trying many of them was not something that we can recommend for the average user.
The only service that actually seemed to work was fix.video which asks that you upload a broken video and it will fix it and show you the result on your screen in a little window. The main problem with this service is that you will need to upload the files online (we are talking about 20-30GB of files so this can take a very long time on our internet connection) but more importantly – they charge based on file size/length which means that for the videos that we had we would need to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the recovery.
Just as we were about to give up and go shoot the whole thing again (in this case this meant wasting another full day or so) ProGrade announced that they just finished developing a new tool for image and video recovery. At this point and after testing so many crappy software were pretty skeptical, to be honest, but ProGrade has a good reputation, so at the very least it was unlikely that we were going to introduce any Trojans into our system.
After installing the trial software we ran it on the memory card – mind you this piece of software can’t seem to fix files on your computer – it needs the original memory card and it tries to recover directly from it. After a few hours of scanning, it was able to find all of the lost files.
We now were cautiously optimistic, but since the software didn’t show us any preview or details on the files other than the name and recorded resolution and the trial version had no option of saving, we didn’t know what to make of it.
It so happened that we were just in the middle of talks with ProGrade on a memory card reader review that we are about to make and we asked them about the software.
They sent us a S/N to try and after a few back and forth e-mails we successfully activated the software and started the recovery process, and waited.
A long wait but at the end…
Since we had dozens of GB of videos to recover this took several hours but at the end of that time, we had all of our videos back working perfectly – what a relief.
So here is our take from all of this. Memory cards will eventually fail on you – even genuine ones from respected brands. This will typically happen at the worst possible moment. If you can use dual cards with your camera for shooting important stuff – do so. If the worst happens and a card gets corrupt – don’t panic, If you need to format the card in order to access it – do a quick format and don’t write anything more on the card before you attempt to recover from it.
In our experience out of all the software that we tried the ProGrade Digital’s Recovery Pro was the only one that actually worked (apart from the fix.video service which was not relevant to us due to the need to upload everything and the prohibitive cost). The ProGrade software, on the other hand, is only $50. It is a one year license which is something we are hoping that ProGrade will change (this is a sort of software you use very rarely so a subscription-based plan is less logical in our opinion and we mentioned that to ProGrade).
Regardless – if you are a professional photographer and you just lost an entire wedding, a key interview which you cannot recreate or even if these are just your family memories from that once in a lifetime trip to the south pole, spending that kind of money is definitely worth it in our opinion.
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