Recovering lost and precious photos

“I retired and decided to have a dream trip to Africa,” says former Global BC assignment editor Clive Jackson.

He saw “cheetahs, everything there was to be seen” and in many cases he was just “50 or 60 feet away from the animals. These were the memories of a lifetime.”

Those memories disappeared from Jackson’s camera upon his arrival back home to Vancouver.

“Every shot was a shot that I treasured and had a memory attached to it,” he says.

Jackson says he was almost in tears, but found a data recovery centre in Vancouver called ‘Restoring Data’ where they were able to retrieve his photos.

“We take the memory chip and first perform an evaluation,” says Noam Kenig, the owner and CEO of Restoring Data, “if the failure happens to be logical, we run special recovery programs that scan the SD card and allow us to get the data out. In case there is a physical damage, we work directly on the memory chip. We then rebuild the data and extract as much as we can.”

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Kenig says Jackson’s card suffered what’s known as a logical failure, meaning the data on the chip got corrupted somehow.

“The chip is technically functional, however the data on the chip got corrupted. It could have been the file structure. It could have been the images. Could have been something in the software level that got damaged,” says Kenig.

Industry experts say there are ways to recover deleted photos and steps you can take to prevent it from happening.

How to protect your photos

“When you hit erase the camera is just telling the memory card to ignore where all the photographs are located,” says Jeff Gin of Leo’s camera store, “It’s basically wiping the map of where all the photographs are. The photographs are still there.”

If your photos disappear, start by “taking the memory card out and stow it away and don’t touch it,” says Gin. Failing to do so could overwrite what’s already on the card, even if you can’t see it.

He recommends going to a photo finishing lab or a data recovery centre like Jackson did.

To prevent losing your photos, Gin says you need to format the memory card.

“Formatting the card after every successful uploading of the images to your computer, mainly because you are wiping it clean properly and then there’s less likelihood of any corrupt files happening when you’re rerecording on top of existing images on the memory card.”

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Gin says it’s critical to keep your memory cards clean and stored properly in a storage container because dust and dirt are detrimental.

“Concerns with extreme temperatures are the utmost importance,” adds Gin.

If you are shooting with a professional camera, but you’re not a professional photographer, Gin recommends shooting in Jpeg, not Raw.

“The advantage of Jpeg is that it takes up significantly less space. You could take many photographs on a given memory card size, hundreds of thousands of images without any worries, especially on long trips. With raw it takes up so much more space.”

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