Tech Tips Home
The Best Tech Tips And Daily Deals
Newsletter On The Internet!

WorldStart Tech Tip And Store Search
Email: Password: Login Remember Me

Like what you see here? Subscribe to the Tech Tips newsletter!   Email: Subscribe

Recover Deleted Files With PhotoRec

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management, Multimedia, Software Reviews

If you’ve accidentally deleted a file, formatted a disk or your hard drive crashed, you may think your files are gone forever. PhotoRec is a free application that searches your media (hard drive, SD card, CD, USB drive, etc.) for any recoverable files. It searches for numerous file types including photos, video, audio and documents. As long as you can still connect the media to a working computer, you can use PhotoRec.

When files are deleted, they are still stored on your hard drive or other media. They aren’t completely removed until another file is written over them. The moment you realize a file is missing, you should stop using the drive to increase your chances of recovering your files. PhotoRec even uses read-only access when scanning for files and stores recovered files to a different location.

Getting Started

Connect the media you want to recover files from now. This must be connected before starting PhotoRec.

Download the latest version of PhotoRec for your operating system. Do not download the Beta versions. Please note that PhotoRec is bundled with TestDisk which can used to analyze disk partitions. You won’t need to use this software for recovery, but the two programs will download together. 

You don’t need to install anything. Locate the downloaded file, which will say testdisk-version, and extract the files. For Windows, right-click the zipped file and choose Extract All







Accept the default settings and press Extract. A new folder is created with the same name. Open this folder to access PhotoRec.

Double-click photorec_win to open the program. If you don’t use Windows, win will be an abbreviation for your operating system. PhotoRec is compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac and DOS. 





Press Run to launch the program.










PhotoRec is DOS based and requires you to use your keyboard to input commands. It does not work with a mouse or other input devices. 

Use your up/down arrow keys to select the media or drive you want to recover files from. When the correct media is highlighted, use your left/right arrow keys to select Proceed and press Enter on your keyboard.







 Use your up/down arrow keys to select the partition you want to recover files from. If you only have one partition, it will already be highlighted. If you’re uncertain which partition to select, choose the partition titled Whole Disk. Partition names are listed to the far right of each partition.





Use your left/right arrow keys to highlight Options at the bottom of the PhotoRec window. Press Enter on your keyboard to view available file search options.




Use your up/down arrows to select different options. Use your left/right arrows to scroll through each setting for individual options. If you are trying to recover photos, especially JPEG files, select Paranoid and choose Yes <Brute force enabled> as your search option. Select Quit when you’re finished and press Enter to return to the previous screen.





Use your left/right arrows to select Search and press Enter.

Choose the file system your media uses. Linux systems typically use ext systems while Windows systems, SD cards and USB drives use FAT and NTFS. Press Enter to continue.





Use your up/down arrows to choose a location to store the recovered files. Use your left/right arrows to choose a new directory. By default, PhotoRec creates a folder inside the extracted folder that the PhotoRec program is stored in. In most cases, this is acceptable. Never store recovered files on the same media or partition that you’re trying to recover from. For instance, if you’re recovering files from a USB drive, store the files on your computer instead of the USB drive. 

If you’re happy with the default location or after you’ve chosen a new location, press C to continue.







When the scan is finished, you’ll see a results screen with the number of files recovered along with the directory they’re stored in. This may take several minutes to over an hour depending on the size of the media you’re recovering from. Select Quit and press Enter to exit the program.






Open your destination folder to view your recovered files. The folder is typically named recup_dir.1. If you perform multiple recoveries to the same directory, the folders are named with increasing numbers, such as recup_dir.2.





Your files will not have their original names. You will need to go through the files to determine what you want to keep. To make it easier, sort files by file type. 



Tags: , ,

9 Responses to “Recover Deleted Files With PhotoRec”

  1. Paul Curtis says:

    Hey this really works! I have been trying to recover some important images from a dvd burn failure for 3 years with no luck. No one could help me with anything that worked despite offering money etc. This has been one of the best tips I have received through Worldstart.

  2. Judy says:

    What I wonder…I had to have my computer wiped out and reinstall windows. I lost my Windows Mail email and a ton of folders full of information that I need. Can this stuff be retrieved or is it gone forever?

    • cynthia says:

      Judy – my first thought would be to go to Gmail using your web browser. It’s possible that your messages are all still there, depending on your settings. If you exported the date from the e-mail client on your computer and backed it up, you can re-install that client and re-import the data. Otherwise, it looks like your messages are gone.

  3. Allan Poe says:

    After sending this to I got an Email from my Mail Administrator telling me this email does not exist.
    Your comments please.

    PhotoRec sounds like a great recovery program. I would like to download it, use it and donate.
    However, when I download and Try to open testdisk Zip the computer goes crazy, flashing on and off. The only way I can stop this craziness is to restart. After the restart I look for the downloaded testdisk Zip and it is gone. I have tried this procedure 3 times>same results every time. I am now afraid to try it again for fear of damaging the computer.
    Allan Poe

  4. CharlesKim0 says:

    Thanks for your nice introductions. Honestly, last time, I had also deleted my Samsung external hard drive information for mistaken operations and also searched for similar data recovery information online. Fortunately, I had found many related articles, threads and learned a lot. And I also, eventually got my lost information back with iCare data recovery software.

    Hope these words can help you somehow.

  5. CaeciliaHenderson says:

    H-Data Recovery Master is a good Windows File Recovery to retrieve all deleted file on PC hard drive, SD card, USB drive, etc. Download and install H-Data Recovery Master(

  6. […] I certainly hope you had them all backed up somewhere else either on another drive or in the cloud. If not, maybe something like PhotoRec can help you. […]

  7. Peter says:

    Okay so after the recovery i tried to put them back in the drive but then the sd card didn’t work anymore and my files won’t open

Leave a Reply

Like these tips? Get them for FREE in your email!

WorldStart's Tech Tips Newsletter

  • Tech Tips Daily - Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

  • Tech Tips Weekly - If you don't want our Tech Tips newsletter every day, then sign up for this weekly newsletter to get the best information of the week. Sent on Fridays.

Other Newsletters

  • WorldStart's Daily Deals - Every week, we send out great deals in our Daily Deals newsletter. Many of these deals are exclusively for our Daily Deals newsletter subscribers and can't be found with our regular specials.

  • Just For Grins - Each issue includes a couple clean jokes, some funny quotes, and a hilarious reader's story. Newsletter is sent five days a week.

Enter Email Address:


Your e-mail address is safe with us!
We only use it to send you the newsletters you request. It is NEVER disclosed to a third party for any reason, ever! Plus, if you decided you don't like our newsletters (don't worry, you'll love them), unsubscribing is fast and easy.

Free Newsletter Signup

Tech Tips Daily

Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

Tech Tips Weekly

The week's best in tech and computer help. Get your issue sent to your email every Friday!

WorldStart's Daily Deals

The very best deals on the Internet! Get a new set of incredible sales every day of the week!

Just For Grins

Clean jokes, funny quotes, and hilarious comics. Sent 5 times a week straight to your email.


Love Worldstart? Refer A Friend!

WorldStart's Premium Membership

Tip Archive