We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Four fixes for memory-card misery

Plus: a powerful, low-cost tool for editing and converting videos.

This article appears in the July 06 issue of PC Advisor, available in all good newsagents.

So you made a complete Bass of yourself by dropping a digital camera in the sea. I can help you retrieve the images – and I can help if you accidentally deleted some photos.

The Hassle: My digital camera decided to take a dip in the ocean. Although I managed to recover it, the camera is toast. Is there any way to rescue the memory card?

The Fix: I can’t give you a step-by-step for resurrecting the camera – I lost one that way, too. But I’ve successfully recovered photos on both an SD and a CompactFlash card. It’s critical to keep the card submerged in water – salt water if necessary – to avoid corrosion. When you’re ready to start, soak the card in fresh water for a few minutes. Rinsing isn’t as good, since you need to remove the salt water from all of the internal contacts.

Air-dry it – don’t use a hair dryer as it could damage the contacts. Gently clean the contacts with a cotton bud and a small amount of isopropyl alcohol, but don’t saturate it. Once they’re dry, lightly rub the contacts with a clean pencil eraser.

CompactFlash cards are tougher to work with. Using a small screwdriver, gently pry the enclosure open enough to slide the circuit card out. Work from the sides, not from the connector end. Then follow the steps above, starting with air-drying the card.

I’m not as optimistic about the camera – but if it’s already dead, you can’t hurt it. You may as well go ahead and try the same rinsing routine as above. Then dismantle the camera, let it air-dry and clean all the contacts. And keep your fingers firmly crossed.

The Hassle: I pulled my CompactFlash card out of my reader while it was moving images to my PC. I can see some of the pictures on the card, but some are missing completely and others have only half a photo.

The Fix: You found out the hard way that you need to wait until all reads and writes are complete before removing a media card. And that goes for any other external storage device – MP3 player, hard drive or flash drive – too. You’ll need a tool to resuscitate those files. For deleted files, the undelete program you already own may work.

If not, try my favourite, PC Inspector Smart Recovery. It’s free, it’s easy to use and it brings dozens of file types back to life, including all the standards – Jpeg, BMP, Tiff, GIF, AVI, MOV and many types of RAW files.

The down side is that the program is slow: it took 10 minutes to recover three deleted files (get it from here).

If your image files are corrupted on a memory card or on a CD, try ImageRecall. This $40 (about £23) tool restores deleted files, recovers damaged files and determines whether your card is damaged. A free trial version is available here, which will recover 10 images. Once you’ve moved the image files from the card to your hard drive, use your camera to reformat the card. This will repair any allocation errors and will save images in a contiguous fashion. Subsequent photos will write faster and be easier to recover in the case of a mishap.

IDG UK Sites

Microsoft Band UK release date and price rumours, features and specs: Microsoft smartwatch unveiled

IDG UK Sites

Why Sony's PS4 2.0 update is every gamer's dream (well, mine at least)

IDG UK Sites

This Grolsch ad combines stop-motion & CG for majestic results

IDG UK Sites

Apple rumours and predictions for 2015: What to expect from Apple in 2015