Can I recover my deleted pictures?
October 23, 2007 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Have I lost my digital photos?

Windows XP - in an effort to save disc space, I had been moving most of my digital photos to an external hard drive. The most recent time I did this, I was in a hurry, not thinking, and simply dragged over the whole "Shared Pictures" folder from the primary hard drive to the external. Obviously the "Shared" folder on the primary drive had far fewer sub-folders than the "Shared" folder on the external.

But I didn't consider the ramifications of this, and when asked by XP if I wanted to replace the folder on the external with the folder on the primary, I just clicked yes and went about my business.

Flas forward a few months - I don't keep the external drive hooked up; just when I back up my photos or iTunes files. So, I hooked it back up to pull everything onto a NEW external drive I had purchased and discovered my heinous mistake.

There might be a chance this is not the first time I've done this, increasing (I know) the potential that my "deleted" files are completely hosed, but I THINK it was the first time.

I ran a freeware program (Restoration), and it found all the "deleted" files on the drive, but when I tried to restore them I couldn't open the pictures.

I took the drive to a friend at work, way more technically-minded than I, to see if he could do anything. He said:

"I reran the scan on the drive and it came back with over 75% file fragments missing, so I took a sample of the files that were not fragmented restored them and tried to open them, every file came back with an error upon opening."

I'm not sure what program he used, but assume it's pretty robust.

Is this the final word? Should I just give up and say goodbye to the majority of my photos from the last six years? I can't afford to spend a ton on having someone professional look at this, and I've heard this kind of work can be very costly.

Is there anything else I can do?
posted by tr33hggr to Technology (9 answers total)
Have you scanned the primary hard drive to see if the pictures might be recoverable from there?

If they're not, then I'm afraid you may be out of luck.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:58 AM on October 23, 2007

Sorry for your loss. Not much more you can do here withouth spending $2K+ with a data recovery firm.
posted by chundo at 8:23 AM on October 23, 2007

I don't have a solution to the lost files but just so you know if you have two folders

old / new

and old/pics new/pics

and you drag the pics dir from old and drop it in new it will just combine the contents of the like named folders. The real problem is if you have files with the same filename in which case the old/pics/image.gif would overwrite new/pics/image.gif.
posted by zeoslap at 8:24 AM on October 23, 2007




now if you drag pics from new to old and click yes to all you'll get

old/pics/a/1.gif <> old/pics/a/2.gif <> old/pics/b/3.gif <> old/pics/c/x.gif <> old/pics/d/y.gif <>
Make sure that your camera is using a datestamp on the pics and isn't just repeating filenames.
posted by zeoslap at 8:33 AM on October 23, 2007

That's odd, that doesn't sound like normal XP behavior from what I've experienced. Usually if you click "yes" when prompted to replace a folder, it actually just merges them and drops in any files/folders existing in the source that weren't already in the destination, and leaves everything else alone.
posted by lohmannn at 8:47 AM on October 23, 2007

Best answer: See if your Geek Friend has a linux machine or a live cd around and ask him to run PhotoRec.

Hopefully that will find what you are looking for.

PhotoRec is in the testdisk package on Ubuntu.
posted by jbroome at 9:52 AM on October 23, 2007

Response by poster: jbroome, it looks like I can run that off my XP machine, no?
posted by tr33hggr at 10:32 AM on October 23, 2007

Doesn't help your current problem, but you will sleep better if you get a real backup program to backup your stuff. I backup to two external drives using Vice Versa pro, which runs nightly. No mistakes.
posted by jockc at 11:30 AM on October 23, 2007

tr33hggr, yup you can. Sorry, i'm used to using it under linux. :)
posted by jbroome at 11:39 AM on October 23, 2007

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