The 7 Best Photo Recovery Software for Retrieving Lost Images

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Best Photo Recovery Software

Photos can bring back memories and remind us of the moments spent with those who are closest to us, which is why losing just a single important picture can feel utterly devastating – almost as if you lost the memory itself. The good news is that most lost or accidentally deleted photos can be recovered using photo recovery software, and we know which applications are the best.

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Comparison Table

Key features analysis

Brief selection
disk drill windows icon
Disk Drill
Platform:  macOS Windows
Distributed as: Freemium
qphotorec icon
Platform:  macOS Windows Linux
Distributed as: Free
diskdigger icon
Platform:  Windows Android macOS Linux
Distributed as: Freemium

Criteria We Used to Assess the Programs

These are the selection criteria we used when assessing the photo recovery software for Windows and Mac. Keep in mind that not all parameters carry equal weight, and we may have sacrificed some of them for the main one – the ability to recover data.

  • Our review results

    Our mission is to bring honesty into the data recovery software review niche by conducting in-depth data recovery software reviews that explore what available applications are truly capable of. We evaluate each software using a weighted average score on a 5-point scale, which forms the basis of our ratings. Of course, we base listicles such as this one on our test results to provide you, our dear readers, with the best solutions for your needs.

  • Usability

    We gave preference to software with a simple, modern, and intuitive interface because not everyone is a data recovery expert, and not everyone should become one just to recover lost data. An intuitive user interface can provide a seamless recovery experience by allowing users to, for example, preview recoverable photos, easily select a suitable recovery destination, and more.

  • Recovery capabilities

    A photo recovery software can be considered "best" only if it can recover all file formats commonly used by digital cameras, smartphones, and other photo-taking devices. This includes RAW photo files formats that are used to store information for the camera's sensor directly without any post-processing applied to it. In our tests, we focused on around 40 file signatures from the "photo and image" category, including key RAW formats such as CR2, NEF, DNG, and ARW, prioritizing software solutions that can deliver excellent recovery results when used to recover them.

  • System compatibility

    We focused on software that works natively on both Windows and Mac platforms and supports their latest and older versions alike. We also prioritized solutions updated every 6-12 months to maintain compatibility, as new versions of Windows and Mac are released regularly.

  • File system support

    Another crucial evaluation parameter we took into consideration is the ability of the software to recognize different file systems and recover original file names and folder structures. This can make a huge difference when recovering a large number of files because it greatly simplifies their subsequent organization.

  • Scan speed

    We prioritized photo recovery tools with efficient scanning performance. This often-overlooked factor can make a huge difference when recovering large amounts of photos from high-capacity memory cards, internal and external drives, and other storage devices.  

  • Extra features

    There are several extra features we looked for because they can make a huge difference when recovering photos. These include byte-to-byte backup capabilities to turn a damaged storage device into a disk image or the ability to work with storage devices that have suffered a file system damage.

  • Price

    Knowing how precious and irreplaceable photos can be, we focused on tools that deliver the best value for money possible. We tried to include as many free software and software with generous trial periods as possible, but still prioritized the price-to-quality ratio.

Top 7 Best Photo Recovery Software


Now that you know our criteria, it’s time to take a closer look at the top 7 best photo recovery software for Windows and Mac! 

Disk Drill Logo

1. Disk Drill

Impressive photo data retrieval results

4.54 Best choice for Windows users – The Windows version of Disk Drill empowers regular users to reliably recover all kinds of lost data with a few simple clicks.

Read full Disk Drill review

macOS Windows

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest


Recover up to 500 MB for free

Price range


Quick overview

Disk Drill is a popular photo recovery software application for Windows and macOS. It has been downloaded more than 10 million times by home users and professionals alike, who like its powerful undelete capabilities and one-click approach to recovery, among many other things. With Disk Drill, you can recover all popular image file formats, as well as image file formats you’ve probably never heard of.

Top Disk Drill Pros
  • Intuitive. Approachable design for users of any skill level.

  • Great usability. Real-time scanning process with organized results.

  • Results filtering. Advanced filters and multiple view options.

  • File preview capabilities. Direct preview and recovery of common photo formats within the interface.

  • Top performance. High recovery performance of 91% out of 100% in tests.

Top Disk Drill Cons
  • Limited Windows version. The free Windows version has a 500 MB data recovery limit, which may not be sufficient for all users.

Detailed overview


Disk Drill's got your back when it comes to picture recovery with its intuitive design, perfect for users of any skill level. The scanning process is presented in real-time, so you'll always know how many files have been found and how much time is left. What's more, the results are organized into three easy-to-navigate categories: Deleted or lost, Existing, and Reconstructed. You'll also appreciate the advanced filters and multiple view options that make it a breeze to find exactly what you're looking for. All commonly used photo file formats can be previewed directly within Disk Drill's interface and recovered with a click. 

Recovery Performance

Disk Drill can handle a vast array of photo file formats, including raw photos captured by popular cameras, camcorders, and smartphones (NEF, CR3, RAF, SRF, and SRW, for example, are all supported). In many situations, The application can even recover the original file structure after formatting or partition loss, so just because Windows or macOS can't access the files stored on your memory card doesn't mean that Disk Drill can't recover them. In our in-depth review, the photo recovery software earned 91% out of 100% for its recovery performance, which is more than any other solution we've ever tested, and that says a lot.


Disk Drill's value is hard to beat. Unlike many other software, Disk Drill offers a PRO version in the form of a lifetime license, not a monthly payment. The free Windows version allows you to recover up to 500 MB of data, while the Mac version can preview an unlimited amount of data. Disk Drill also includes a range of useful features like S.M.A.R.T. data analysis and data protection that make its cost-effective lifetime licenses even more attractive than they already are. Despite not being completely free, it easily secured the top spot in our list due to its impressive performance, wide range of features, and excellent price-to-quality ratio.

PhotoRec Logo

2. PhotoRec

Open-source software

3.37 Intimidating but rewarding at the same time – PhotoRec for Windows offers unbeatable value, but you need to overcome a steep learning curve to unlock it.

Read full PhotoRec review

macOS Windows Linux

Distributed as

Free All features are provided free of charge, and the software can be used, studied, and modified without restriction


Metadata recovery

Price range


Quick overview

PhotoRec is the best free deleted photo recovery software distributed under GNU General Public License (GPLV v2+). Being primarily a command-line application, it can easily scare away less computer-savvy users, but an optional GUI for Windows is available. 

Top PhotoRec Pros
  • Optional GUI. Optional graphical user interface is available for Windows users.

  • Portable. Portable software that allows for launching without installation.

  • Low requirements. Lightweight and capable of running on low-end computers.

  • File format support. Supports over 480 file extensions and multiple file systems across Windows, macOS, and Linux.

  • Free and open-source. PhotoRec is completely free and open-source, without any limits on recovery.

Top PhotoRec Cons
  • Poor GUI. The GUI may slow down during scanning, and selecting the device to scan can be challenging.

  • Signature selection. Requires manual selection of all signatures for optimal recovery performance, which may be tedious for some users.

Detailed overview


The program's optional graphical user interface makes it more approachable for Windows users, while its portable nature means you can launch it without installing it on your system. Though PhotoRec is known for being lightweight and capable of running on low-end computers, its interface may slow down during the scanning process, and selecting the device you want to scan can take some effort. The terminal version of PhotoRec isn't beginner-friendly, but with some patience, users can navigate the software to achieve great results.

Recovery Performance

PhotoRec's recovery performance is primarily driven by its robust signature scanning capabilities, which enable the software to identify and recover over 480 file extensions. As a multi-platform data recovery application, PhotoRec supports several popular file systems across Windows, macOS, and Linux, including FAT, NTFS, exFAT, ext2/ext3/ext4, and HFS+. To fully utilize PhotoRec's recovery capabilities, users need to be aware that not all signatures are selected for scanning by default. To include all available signatures in the scanning process, users must manually click multiple checkboxes.


PhotoRec is a fantastic option for those looking for free and open-source picture recovery software. As a user, you don't need to purchase a license to recover your lost pictures regardless of how many you're missing. Sure, customer support is limited to volunteer forums, and there's a lack of additional functionality beyond data recovery, but that's to be expected. After all, you should never look into the gift horse's mouth. Overall, PhotoRec's advantages, such as its powerful recovery performance and being a free and open-source solution, are significant enough for it to secure second place on our list despite its UI drawbacks, the inability to recover data with original names, and the need to manually select what you want to recover, 

DiskDigger Logo

3. DiskDigger

3.37 Simple and cheap, but with mediocre results – DiskDigger is a budget-friendly data recovery solution for those who aren’t looking for a tool that has all the bells and whistles.

Read full DiskDigger review

macOS Windows Linux Android

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest


5-second delay after each recovered file

Price range


Quick overview

DiskDigger is a portable, lightweight photo recovery software with a decent signature scanner, though its interface has issues on high DPI monitors. It offers free recovery with some limitations and supports quick and signature scans, providing a cost-effective solution for users looking to recover lost photos.

Top DiskDigger Pros
  • Portable. No installation required, easy to transfer and use on the go.

  • Signature scanner. Decent signature scanner for file recovery.

  • Raw image formats. Supports most file formats, including raw images.

  • Free recovery. Offers a free license with unlimited photo recovery (with a 5-second delay).

Top DiskDigger Cons
  • UI scaling issues. Doesn’t work well on high DPI monitors, resulting in a blurry interface.

  • Limited recovery performance. Subpar quick scan results with both Windows and Linux partitions.

  • Can preview only some files. A small number of photo file formats is supported by the preview feature.

Detailed overview


With no installation required, the 1.7 MB application can be easily transferred to any storage media, making it convenient for users on the go. DiskDigger's small size doesn't compromise its functionality, as it still offers a decent signature scanner for file recovery. However, it's worth noting that the program doesn't work well on high DPI monitors, resulting in a blurry interface and difficulties changing the interface language.

Recovery Performance

When it comes to recovery performance, DiskDigger has room for improvement. Although it offers free recovery, the software only supports quick and signature scans, with no clever scanning options. Unfortunately, its quick scan feature delivers subpar results on both Windows (FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS) and Linux (EXT4) partitions, often failing to find lost data. On the upside, DiskDigger supports most devices, and its signature scan abilities are fairly decent, offering plenty of hope for users in need of photo recovery (even raw image formats are supported well). Additionally, DiskDigger has an Android version, allowing users to scan their devices without connecting to a computer.


The absence of disk copying and limited file preview options may deter some users, but for those seeking a cost-effective photo recovery solution, DiskDigger is worth considering. That's because the free license allows users to recover as much photos as they want but with a 5-second delay between each recovery. 

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Logo

4. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

3.81 Popular for its trial recovery capabilities – Easy to use and capable of delivering solid results, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is good at what it does.

Read full EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard review

macOS Windows

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest


Recover up to 2 GB for free

Price range


Quick overview

Since 2004, EaseUS has been offering a broad range of software tools intended to help users manage their data, including EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, a complete data restoration solution for Windows computers.

Top EaseUS Pros
  • Great usability. Intuitive interface that’s easy to navigate.

  • Fast scanning results. The application can quickly generate a list of recoverable files.

  • Supports common file formats. Reliably recovers commonly used file formats from Windows-supported file systems.

  • Free recovery. The free version is generous, allowing up to 2 GB of data recovery.

Top EaseUS Cons
  • Pop-up ads. There are pop-up ads that ruin the otherwise great user experience.

  • FAT32 and exFAT support. Struggles with FAT32 and exFAT scanning, causing issues with folder structures, small files, and directories.

  • Expensive licenses. Steep pricing for monthly subscriptions and lifetime upgrades.

Detailed overview


EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard offers an intuitive interface, making it simple for users to navigate scan results. Scanning is fast, so you don't have to wait long for your results. However, there are some drawbacks, such as frequent pop-up ads for other products that can't be turned off and limited preview capabilities for popular photo formats.

Recovery Performance

While EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard provides above-average performance and reliably recovers commonly used file formats from Windows-supported file systems, it does have some issues. For example, it struggles with FAT32 and exFAT scanning, resulting in lost original folder structures, overlooked small files, and corrupted directories. This is a major issue because these two file formats are commonly used to format memory cards and external storage devices. Although the software can recover various raw photo file formats, support for some camera brands, like Sigma, is lacking compared to others, like Nikon.


The free version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard allows you to recover up to 2 GB of data, which is quite a generous offer, as long as you agree to mention the product on a social media network. However, the cheapest license is a monthly subscription costing $69.95, and lifetime upgrades start at $149.95, which might be a bit steep considering the limitations in some areas. Overall, though, it remains a decent option for those in need of photo recovery software.

Stellar Data Recovery Logo

5. Stellar Data Recovery

Decent recovery results

3.31 Frequently recommended – Stellar Data Recovery is a good example of data recovery software that doesn’t to anything exceptionally wrong nor exceptionally right.

Read full Stellar Data Recovery review

macOS Windows

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest


Recover up to 1 GB for free

Price range


Quick overview

Previously known as Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery, Stellar Data Recovery is an accessible photo recovery software with the ability to repair photos and videos. Its free version offers 1 GB of data recovery, but upgrading to a subscription plan can be costly.

Top Stellar Pros
  • Easy-to-use interface. Suitable for users of all skill levels.

  • Repair of photos and videos. The software can repair photos and videos that would otherwise be impossible to open.

  • Free recovery. You can use the free version to recover up to 1 GB of data.

Top Stellar Cons
  • Lackluster preview feature Slow preview generation speed and limited preview capabilities.

  • Disappointing performance Many unsupported raw file formats are unsupported and recovery capabilities are limited.

  • Poor value Costly subscription plans and expensive lifetime upgrades.

Detailed overview


Stellar Data Recovery is an easy-to-use photo recovery software that's accessible to users of all skill levels. The biggest usability highlight the application has to offer is the ability to seamlessly repair photos and videos that would otherwise not open even after being recovered. The biggest drawbacks include slow previews, limited preview capabilities, and the inability to view and restore files during a scan.

Recovery Performance

While Stellar Data Recovery is accessible, its performance falls short of the best photo recovery applications available. Many commonly used file formats can't be recovered without manual intervention, and some crucial scan types yield disappointing results. What's also disappointing is that many raw file formats are unsupported by the software's signature scanner, and only a few formats are supported well.


Stellar Data Recovery provides a generous free version, allowing users to recover up to 1 GB of data. However, exceeding this limit can be costly due to the reliance on subscription plans, with lifetime upgrades being an expensive option. That's why we rank it as the 5th option out of the top 7 best photo recovery software for Windows & Mac.

Wondershare Recoverit Logo

6. Wondershare Recoverit

3.43 Can it really recover it? – Wondershare Recoverit comes with an intuitive user interface, but subpar recovery capabilities that struggle to deliver.

Read full Wondershare Recoverit review

Windows macOS

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest


Recover up to 100 MB for free

Price range


Quick overview

This easy to use software offers multiple scanning modes to tackle all kinds of photo loss scenarios. While it does well with some raw photo files, many formats remain unsupported. Also, its pricing structure doesn’t offer the best value for users.

Top Recoverit Pros
  • Modern interface. The application is easy to use and pleasant to look at.

  • Preview capabilities. Recoverit allows users to scale and flip images before recovery.

Top Recoverit Cons
  • Poor recovery performance. Struggles to find common file formats despite claiming support for 1000 file signatures.

  • Raw photos. Many unsupported raw photo file formats.

  • Hidden trial version. It’s not immediately obvious how to download the free trial version.

Detailed overview


Wondershare Recoverit boasts a modern and up-to-date interface, offering options to scan folders and specific locations like the Recycle Bin. Though this feature primarily enhances user experience, it does little to aid actual recovery. The software allows users to preview images, scaling and flipping them as needed. However, drawbacks include the inability to install without an internet connection, difficulty locating discovered partitions, and no option to save disk scan sessions.

Recovery Performance

The most critical aspect of any picture recovery software is its performance, and unfortunately, Wondershare Recoverit falls short in this area. While it offers multiple scan types for finding lost data, it performed poorly in our tests. The software claims to support 1000 file signatures, but in practice, it struggles to find even common file formats. When it comes to recovering regular and raw photo files, Recoverit does well with JPG, GPR, CR2, and a few others, but there are still many unsupported formats.


Pricing for Wondershare Recoverit starts at $59.99 for the Essential plan and goes up to $99.99 for the Premium plan, which includes bootable media creation and video repair. Users can also download a trial that offers up to 100 MB of free recovery before needing an upgrade. However, accessing the trial version can be confusing, as users need to specifically download Wondershare Recoverit Free. Still, a free version is a free version, which is why we include the software in this listicle. 

Recuva Logo

7. Recuva

Popular among Windows users

3.04 Good for basic data recovery jobs – Despite its age and lack of development, Recuva is still worth taking a look at—if only because it recovers an unlimited amount of data for free.

Read full Recuva review


Distributed as

Freeware All features are provided free of charge without any limitations



Price range


Quick overview

Recuva is a free photo recovery software tool from the developers of CCleaner. It features a similar user interface, so all CCleaner users should feel right at home. Due to lackluster development, its performance is limited.

Top Recuva Pros
  • Completely free. Allows for unlimited file scanning and restoration.

  • Two modes. Recuva offers two operating modes (simple and advanced) for users with different expertise levels.

Top Recuva Cons
  • Poor scan results. Limited recovery performance, scoring only 31% in tests.

  • Lost metadata. Struggles with restoring folder structures and file names, leading to disorganized recovered data.

  • Missing file formats. Difficulty recovering many image file types, including DNG and 3FR files.

  • Limited preview options. This makes it challenging to choose the correct pictures for recovery.

Detailed overview


Recuva, a completely free picture recovery software, offers two operating modes, simple and advanced, to cater to users of different expertise levels, and it supports the largest number of languages among data recovery tools. Recuva also integrates into the system context menu for a fast search of deleted files. Unfortunately, it preview just a few file formats, so choosing the correct pictures for recovery isn't always easy.

Recovery Performance

While Recuva scored only 31% in terms of performance, it was still able to recover a fair amount of lost data. The software struggles with restoring folder structures and file names, often resulting in corrupted files and disorganized recovered data. Scan speeds are decent, averaging between 100-200 MB/sec. Unfortunately, Recuva had difficulty recovering many image file types, with a large portion of DNG files suffering from corruption and all recovered 3FR images being in TIFF format.


Despite its shortcomings, Recuva's most significant selling point is that it's entirely free, allowing users to scan and restore unlimited files without spending a dime despite not being the best choice for recovering digital photos in general.


If you’re looking for the best photo recovery software application for Windows or macOS, Disk Drill, PhotoRec, and DiskDigger are all excellent choices. Disk Drill is known for its straightforward user interface and one-click approach to image restoration, making it easy for amateurs and professionals alike to recover all lost or accidentally deleted photos from hard drives, memory cards, USB flash drives, and other storage devices. PhotoRec offers powerful signature scanning capabilities and is a great option for those seeking a free, open-source solution. DiskDigger provides a simple interface and reliable recovery performance, making it another viable alternative for photo recovery.

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Is It Possible to Recover Files from a Device's Internal Memory?

If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to recover files from a camera’s internal memory, the answer is a bit complicated. Most modern devices, including cameras, use the Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) for data transfer. Unfortunately, MTP doesn’t allow for scanning the internal memory of the device or accessing the SD card as a card reader. In other words, it’s not possible to recover data from the internal memory of cameras that rely on this protocol.

In the case of smartphones, the situation is more nuanced. They come equipped with their own TRIM function, similar to that found in SSDs (Solid State Drives). The TRIM function helps maintain optimal performance by cleaning up deleted files and preventing fragmentation. While this feature can reduce the chances of successful data recovery from internal memory, it’s important to note that there is still hope. Thumbnails, cached versions of files, or other duplicates can sometimes be found by scanning, and some data recovery software might be able to retrieve these. So, even though the odds may not always be in your favor, it’s definitely worth giving data recovery software a try—you might just get lucky!

Comparison table


The comparison table below provides an overview of all data recovery software applications that have made our list.

FeatureDisk DrillPhotoRecDiskDiggerEaseUS Data Recovery WizardStellar Data RecoveryWondershare RecoveritRecuva
Total Score Free Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque.
Disk Drill 100% - Disk Drill


PhotoRec 73% - PhotoRec


DiskDigger 74% - DiskDigger


EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard 84% - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard


Stellar Data Recovery 73% - Stellar Data Recovery


Wondershare Recoverit 76% - Wondershare Recoverit


Recuva 67% - Recuva


RequirementsWindows 10-11 (x64 only)macOS 10.6-12.0Windows Vista-11Windows 7-11macOS 10.11-13.0Windows 7-11 (x64 only)Windows XP-10, 11 (unofficial support)
Clever in-depth scan
Quick scan
Distributed as Freemium Free Freemium Freemium Freemium Freemium Freeware
Trial version available
Trial version limitations Recover up to 500 MB for free Freeware. No limits 5-second delay after each recovered file Recover up to 2 GB for free Recover up to 1 GB for free Recover up to 100 MB for free Freeware. No limits
Starting price$89.00 / PerpetualFreeFree$69.95 / 1 month$69.99 / 1 year$59.99 / 1 monthFree
See Plans & Pricing Pricing details Pricing details Pricing details Pricing details Pricing details Pricing details Pricing details
Raw photo recovery
Video formats recovery
Document formats recovery
Helpdesk support
Live chat
Phone support

Frequently Asked Questions

If you don’t want to use photo recovery software to recover lost images from your SD card, then we recommend you try the following methods instead:

  • check the Recycle Bin/Trash
  • check “recently deleted” albums
  • check cloud storage
  • check if there are hidden files or folders

Here are the top 7 best photo recover software applications for SD cards:

  1. Disk Drill
  2. PhotoRec
  3. DiskDigger
  4. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
  5. Stellar Data Recovery
  6. Wondershare Recoverit
  7. Recuva

The best free photo recovery software capable of recovering an unlimited amount of data is PhotoRec, followed by Recuva (Windows only).

Permanently deleted photos can be recovered if the location where they were stored is accessible and overwriting hasn’t occurred yet. For example, images accidentally deleted when performing file management tasks using File Explorer or Finder can usually be recovered using photo recovery software.

There are several photo recovery software solutions that all PC users should consider when dealing with a photo-related data loss scenario. Our top picks include Disk Drill, PhotoRec, and DiskDigger. 

Unfortunately, there are not many photo recovery software solutions that run natively on Android, but there is DiskDigger, which can recover lost photos, images, or videos from your internal memory or external memory card.

David Morelo

David Morelo is a professional content writer with a specialization in data recovery. He spends his days helping users from around the world recover from data loss and address the numerous issues associated with it.

When not writing about data recovery techniques and solutions, he enjoys tinkering with new technology, working on personal projects, exploring the world on his bike, and, above all else, spending time with his family.

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Yevgeniy Tolkunov
Yevgeniy Tolkunov

Yevgeniy Tolkunov is Hardware Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Yevgeniy has a Master's Degree in Physics, Information Technology; 15+ years of experience.