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David A Thompson Sep 26, 2014 6:18 PM

Lost JPEG images on SDXC card. PLEASE HELP.
I was on holiday recently where I was using a Samsung ST150F. After about one week, the camera completely 'died'. Obviously being on holiday requires a camera, so I searched the island high and low for another 150F, but all that I could find was a Samsung WB35F. In the shop, I tried the same SDXC 64GB card in the new camera, and whilst it displayed the stills, it would not play the videos. The guy in the shop said that this was normal, that the existing videos would still play on a pc, and that new photos and videos would be fine on the card. I was completely unaware that it is inadvisable to transfer SD cards from one camera to another without formatting them.
With the 150's SDXC card installed, for a time, everything seemed to be working fine as I'd been told it would. Old pictures displayed, and new pictures and videos seemed OK. Then, out of the blue, NEW videos wouldn't play. I tried this once or twice, but they would not work even though they had initially. A 'warning triangle' displayed on the camera's screen instead of a thumbnail.
The final video that I attempted to create, also didn't work. When I opened the camera memory to play it, I found that the 'video fault' had made 42 JPEG images, that had been taken with the NEW camera, and THAT HAD DISPLAYED OK ON THE VERY SAME CAMERA UP TO THAT POINT, had become unviewable. I deleted the video, but it made no difference. Also, there were photos taken that were still viewable, as well as the photos that were taken with the first camera, which were fine.
I have now put all of the images on my laptop. The 'bad' videos have all been deleted. The 42 files that were 'affected' by the 'said video', do not display a thumbnail, but display the blank 'Windows Landscape' image, and do not open, with Windows displaying the 'Windows Photo Viewer can't open this picture..............' message. Bizarrely, there are pictures in amongst the affected files that do display. I have attempted to repair the files with some of the online 'JPEG repair/recover' programs, ('Stellar Pheonix', 'Picture Doctor', 'File Repair' et al), to no avail. They either 'don't find' the files, or state that there's 'no data'.

So that's where I am. Apologies for the long-winded story, but I wanted to offer as much info as possible.
I'd dearly love to recover the damaged files as they are some of the best photos from the holiday, but I'm beginning to lose hope.

Thanks for reading guys, and any info will be very gratefully received.

JimC Sep 26, 2014 7:19 PM

First of all, you should never write anything to a memory card that has any issues with corruption using utilities that are trying to "fix" issues with files. A delete as also a "write" (and you mentioned deleting files from that is having issues).

Instead, you need to use recovery utilities that only read (not write to, and again a delete is a write) to the problem media (an SDXC card in your case).

Otherwise, you're probably going to make the corruption issues even worse.

From your description, it sounds like you're trying to "fix" the problem files, which is usually a lost cause. Instead, try to read the files from the original source media (your memory card) again using a utility like photorec, copying the files to your computer's hard drive.

Most of the time, the issue is a corrupted file allocation table on the card. That's often caused because users don't bother to use the "Safely Remove" features included in their operating system before unplugging a camera or card reader from their computer.

With most operating systems, you can click on the "Computer" icon from the start menu, find the drive icon that represents your memory card, then "right click" on it and select the "Eject" menu option so that all writes still in the operating system's disk cache in memory are flushed to the card, with the file system unmounted so that the card can be safely unplugged.

You'll usually find a "safely remove" app in the system tray (sometimes hidden where you need to press an up arrow to see it) that does the same thing (flushes any pending writes to the card, and unmounts the file system so that the card can be safely removed). But, simply clicking on Computer, then right clicking on the drive letter assigned to the card and selecting the "Eject" choice is usually simpler, and just wait for the message that it's safe to remove the device before unplugging the card or camera.

If you don't do that (use the eject choice, or safely remove choice), you're asking for trouble, and can end up with a corrupted file allocation table, which is the most common cause of problems like you're seeing, because some write activity to the card is still being stored in the operating system's memory and has not been flushed to the card yet.

For starters, try using photorec to recover any files on your memory card that haven't been overwritten yet. See this post on the subject:

Try the options mentioned in that post. It's designed to ignore the underlying file system entirely (so if the allocation tables are corrupted, it may still be able to recover files intact) and write anything found back to folders in the drive you're running it from. IOW, never try to use a utility that writes to the problem card; as you only want to read from it and write the files found to your hard drive.

Then, after you've recovered anything possible from it, make sure to format the card before using it again. Use the format choice you'll find in your camera's menus (as any modern camera will have a menu choice to format a a memory card), so that it will be formatted exactly how the camera expects it, since the camera is performing the format.

Personally, I do that (reformat a memory card using the camera's menu choice for format) *every* time I reuse a memory card, no exceptions. That way, I always start out with a fresh File Allocation table.

Then, going forward, make sure to use the "Safely Remove" features of your operating system each time you copy files from it (and simply "right clicking" on the icon for the card under "Computer" and using the "Eject" choice does the same thing) before unplugging the camera or card reader to help avoid further corruption.

Again, after that, I'd use the camera's menu choice to format again before the next use (just to make certain I had a fresh file allocation table with a card formatted exactly the way the camera expects it, since the camera is performing the format).

Formatting a card again before each reuse is just as fast as deleting files on it anyway (as a typical quick format doesn't overwrite the entire card, and is only recreating the File Allocation Table), and helps to insure you start out with a Fresh (versus Corrupted) File Allocation Table before each reuse (and I'd use the format choice in the camera's menu for that purpose before each new photo session).

David A Thompson Sep 27, 2014 10:03 AM

Hi Jim, thanks for the quick reply.

Firstly, can I just say that I'm well aware of the importance of properly ejecting external media. I always do this, usually using the tray icon.
Secondly, as far as this issue is concerned, when I first noticed this fault, it was before either camera had ever been connected to a computer.

OK, so I thought I'd post this in case you can advise further on the strength of it, or indeed in case you think that I'm now wasting my time.

I downloaded Photorec, and ran it on the affected SDXC. Whilst it obviously found all of the unaffected files, unfortunately, it failed to find ANY of the aforementioned 42 affected files. It was as if they weren't there.

Thanks again Jim.

JimC Sep 27, 2014 10:43 AM

Did you follow the directions in that post carefully?

Pay special attention to this part of my post with instructions on using Photorec (note that "Whole Disk" was the only bold text in those instructions for a reason, as it's very important to use that option with a corrupted FAT, which is the most common issue users run into).


...Note that when you get to the partition selection screen after selecting your card, sometimes it's best to select "Whole disk".
With only one Partition, you'll see a "Whole" versus "Whole Disk" choice, as shown on this screen of the online user guide:

If the file system is corrupted (and your card's probably is), that's the choice you want to make, so that it looks at all space on the card for images, without using the File Allocation Table on the card. IOW, that "Whole" option ignores the underlying file system entirely, and tries to locate image files by looking for their headers on the media using "data carving" techniques.

Again, after you recover your images (and hopefully, they haven't been overwritten yet and it's only a corrupted FAT), make sure to format the card again using the camera's menu choice for format so that a new File Allocation Table is created.

David A Thompson Sep 27, 2014 11:52 AM

Thanks for the perseverance.

Yes Jim, not only did I thoroughly read your advice, but I closely followed a 'YouTube' video, that gave exactly the same advice as regards recovering files from an SD with Photorec. The video also emphasised the importance of selecting 'Whole Disk', as far as the partitions are concerned.

There is no doubt whatsoever that it was the 'Whole Disk' option that I selected.

JimC Sep 27, 2014 12:07 PM

You'll also see some further instructions in the "Sticky" thread here, with other options you can use to also include files that may be corrupted. If Photorec can't get everything you need from a card, then chances are, nothing else can either.

With some types of FAT corruption, you may end up with space being reused (overwriting portions of your other files), making recovery impossible (as once any part of a file has been overwritten, it's pretty much doomed unless it's something like a text document where a partial file may have some info you need in it)

So, make sure you try it again using the whole disk option, and see if some of the other options mentioned in that instructions thread here can help out (even though you may end up with corrupted images using the other options).

There's another way to approach it using specialized linux utilities that write out a disk image file from a card, then run photorec against the disk image file to try and find anything that may be on it.

But, that process is a bit more involved and may not help anything if the partition table on the card is OK (where the entire space on the card is actually allocated properly, versus having a corrupted partition table or physically failing card).

If you want to try more advanced techniques like that, let me know, and I can probably talk you through it via a text chat session or something (where I'd give you commands to type in that you could copy and paste into a terminal from a session using a Live Linux distro you could burn to a USB Flash Drive to boot into; then let you copy and paste the results to me for further instructions).

IOW, I'd want you to burn a linux distro to a USB Flash drive (and I can give you download links for one I prefer, along with links to a free utility you can use to do that with), then boot into it and use a utility called ddrescue to make a full block by block copy of the card and write it to a disk image file on a mounted partition (just writing the disk image file to one of your NTFS partitions on your computer), after running a few commands to see how your card and hard drive partitions are labeled. Then, I'd give you the commands to run photorec against the created disk image file (versus directly to the card).

But, if there is no evidence of a physical card issue (physical sector read errors and timeouts), and the partition table already has all of the card space allocated to the detected partitions on it when using photorec, that may not help anything.

Let me know if you want to give that a try and I can give you more instructions and we can set aside some time for an online chat session to guide you through it (or just using this thread or Private Messages to work through that process).

David A Thompson Sep 27, 2014 1:44 PM

OK, so I'm just running Photorec again. Can't do any harm really, and it'll make sure. I'll let you know if I have any success, although I paid particular attention to the settings as per your instructions, and I'm sure that they were the same as before. Nevertheless, as I said, it can't do any harm.

I'd love to try that Jim, if your OK with it. I'll try anything. We could arrange that, if I get nowhere with this attempt.

TBH, I find it astounding that I'm having such difficulty with this. It was just one video! Prior to the video, the affected photos were there and worked normally. I bet if the FBI or MI5 wanted to view the files, they'd be recovered in seconds! Also, the files in question are all still individually on the SDXC card with properties, just without a thumbnail display. Annoying!

I'll see how this Photorec run comes out and I'll let you know. If you're willing to attempt the more advanced options, then I'd welcome that, although you'd need to keep the instructions as basic as possible as I'm unfamiliar with anything like that. But from what I can understand, what you have listed out, does seeem like a different way of approaching the problem.

I'll let you know when this Photorec has finished.


VTphotog Sep 27, 2014 2:05 PM

Another program, which I have gotten good results with, is Puran File recovery. It will scan by drive letters, or by physical drive (raw), which I would recommend for this kind of work.
My guess is that by not formatting the card in your new camera, you overwrote some parts of existing media and those files are beyond recovery.

David A Thompson Sep 27, 2014 2:38 PM

Hi VT,

Thanks. Anything's worth a try.

Do you think that they are gone forever? It's just that as I said, they are still individual files on the card with properties. I did indeed fail to format the card when installing it in the second camera, leaving photos etc from the previous camera, it's just that the files in question, the ones that I'm trying to recover, were taken with the second camera, and did actually display before I attempted the video.

Anyway, thanks again. I'll make a note of that program.

JimC Sep 27, 2014 2:43 PM

Your symptoms are more indicative of a corrupted FAT. So, again, make sure to run Photorec again using the whole disk choice.

If that doesn't find them, use some of the other options mentioned in that Sticky thread, so you'll also get any files that are corrupted (meaning parts of them may may have been overwritten) to see if any of the images may still be usable.

You are using a card reader (not a USB connected camera), right, as the sticky thread here about using Photorec instructs?

That's very important (as most cameras make a poor choice for acting as a USB Mass Storage device for use with recovery utilities, as their firmware usually inserts another [interpretation] layer in between the OS and the card you're trying to read from).

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