SD card failure; impending heart failure
November 22, 2005 1:52 PM   Subscribe

My SD card has died (or has it?) - filled with pictures. Is it possible to get the pictures back, if Windows won't even "see" the card?

I've got a SanDisk 512 SD card, and I just got a Nikon D50 DSLR camera. I took it out about 10 days ago and took 200 pics, some of them actually GOOD. Took the SD card out, and with a USB-based-SD-card-reader I look at 'em and showed 'em around and so on.

I left the SD card sitting in the USB reader sticking out of the USB port on the outside of my PC (WinXP). This may have been my mistake.

Today I went to move the pictures onto the hard drive, edit 'em and post 'em on flickr. I can't. The Removable Drive shows up in My Computer, but I can't open. I can't right click on it. It just goes into deep slowdown mode.

I tried using another card (in fact, a memory stick) in the same USB reader and that works fine. It's not the reader. I put the card back in the camera. Oh-oh. This card cannnot be used.

What the hell?

Have I trashed the card? Was it from sitting out? If Windows won't recognize it, I can't even reformat it, let alone get the pictures off of it?

Any ideas or experiences here?

posted by stevil to Technology (12 answers total)
Sandisk has some recovery tools that can pull most of the files off of the card. My card came with it, and it looks like they sell it here.
posted by bitmage at 2:07 PM on November 22, 2005

Best answer: I also found this freeware app, but I've never used it.
posted by bitmage at 2:10 PM on November 22, 2005

bitimage, will either of those work if Windows can't see the card? I don't believe so, but that would be sweet if they do.

Stevil, if Windows can't see the card, I would look for other variables to change -- try it on a mac? reboot the machine and retry? Can your camera recognize the card and/or the images?

That is seriously weird; good luck retrieving your images.
posted by misterbrandt at 2:33 PM on November 22, 2005

The app I used long ago let you run the trial version to see what would be recovered if you paid for it; I have no idea if it works with a non-recognized card but the listing I found here led to this app which explicitly lists non-recognized cards as something it deals with.
posted by phearlez at 2:53 PM on November 22, 2005

Could it specifically be the SD port on the reader? Can you use the camera instead of the reader (via a USB cable)? Do you have another computer to test it on? In the past, Windows has been flakey with me on issues such as these, so it may be worthwhile to plug it into another system just to see what happens. Good luck.
posted by bwilms at 3:11 PM on November 22, 2005

Have you tried another card reader?

I've had mechanical problems with connecting, which seems unlikely, but a possibility. I have one card (compactflash, yeah different mechanism) that I often have to insert into a reader 20 times before it becomes readable. The contacts aren't dirty, but a corner is damaged.
This card reads ok in a different reader.

Chances are good that the images are retained on the card, the memory itself can be pretty rugged, so don't try to format it, just in case the format works.

Borrow card readers, stick it in other people's laptops, stick it in cameras and try to plug the camera into the computer, restart your machine, there is a decent chance you'll find something lo-tech that works.

Before sticking it in other readers, you might also want to get a flashlight and see if any of the pins in the reader are bent, or if there is a broken pin stuck in the card. This seems highly unlikely, but you might get lucky - as then not only is the problem identified, but a new reader (or a little surgery if a pin is in the card) will fix the problem.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:22 PM on November 22, 2005

Response by poster: bwilms - the camera rejects the card as well ("card can't be used").

The problem persists on another PC.

I've got another reader that requires a driver to work; it's being rather difficult right now.

I guess because I could get the reader to work with a Memory Stick I thought it was NOT the reader, but since they are connecting on different pins, that may not be the case.
posted by stevil at 4:03 PM on November 22, 2005

Response by poster: However, I just put a different SD card in the reader and it worked fine. Seems like it's NOT the reader. It's not the PC. It is probably the card.
posted by stevil at 4:06 PM on November 22, 2005

Do you have access to a Linux machine? Suse Linux, for instance, is very good at recognizing flash disks that Windows won't. Linux's fdisk utility will allow you to view/edit the master block on the flash. Worst case, the dd utility could suck every last byte off the flash into a big file. This is all assuming the flash card's electrical interface hasn't been physically damaged, like through ESD.

On preview, it occured to me that I've never tried this with a Secure Digital (SD) card, and I wonder what extra difficulty the "secure" portion of the device could cause during a recovery operation.
posted by fuzzy_wuzzy at 5:40 PM on November 22, 2005

Response by poster: fuzzy_wuzzy - no Linux machine - but a good idea. I don't even know anyone who uses Linux...
posted by stevil at 7:52 PM on November 22, 2005

Best answer: I used FileScavenger and it did pull most (?) of the files off. Very exciting! I tried Zero Assumptions and it didn't do anything, but FileScavenger did great.
posted by stevil at 12:44 PM on November 23, 2005

I had the exact same (Mac) wouldn't recognize the card was plugged in. Camera alternately wouldn't accept the card, or would say "No images" when the review button was pressed, yet told me there was no room on the card.

I downloaded PhotoRescue and had everything cleared up within an hour. It took so little time, and was so easy, that I actually felt foolish that I had stressed over it for weeks.
posted by nevercalm at 10:33 AM on December 1, 2005

« Older Book Recommendations: History of Romance Languages   |   Why no dental insurance copay? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.