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Pictures disappeared from memory card! SOLVED (updated at bottom of thread)


Took a ton of pictures today on vacation.  I was able to view them on the camera itself after taking them.  Got home, put memory card in my computer, pictures weren't there.  Put memory card back in camera, pictures were gone from there too.  What the heck?!


I tried running a data recovery tool to no avail.  The files it found for me were all old pics.  Nothing from today's date so I did not pay the money to recover them.  All pictures from yesterday and before are still there.


There IS a .ctg file with today's date on it.  But the pics themselves are gone.  Is all hope lost?  Is there a better recovery tool to try (used Stellar data recovery tool).


ETA: Camera is a Canon EOS Rebel T3i and memory card is PNY Elite Performance 32GB SDHC.





I was able to recover the pictures.  Thanks for all the suggestions.


Card was not locked.


Menu options weren't changed (aside from which I know the pics saved to the card b/c I'd gone back and reviewed them at multiple times throughout the day).


My brother tried multiple recovery programs and had success with ZAR v. 9.2 (they have newer versions...this is just the one he happened to have from a recovery attempt on his phone a year or so ago).  ZAR is the only one that was able to search deeper into the memory card and found all the pics.


Interestingly enough, there were 172 pics that were lost and when he checked them all for recovery and began the process, a progress bar showed on the screen.  The first 171 pictures took just a few minutes and only about 1/3 of the progress bar.  When it got to picture 172, it took another 10-15 minutes and the remaining 2/3 of the progress bar.  Things that make you go hmmm...right?


So, after having them all saved to a folder on his desktop he went to transfer them to a flash drive for me to move them over to my computer and when it got to picture 172, the flash drive balked and said "no room..."  This prompted him to investigate further and he discovered that that 172nd picture was 8 GIGS which explains why that last picture took so long during the recovery process!  Don't know if that weirdness happened when the recovery was being done or if the memory card is the one that did that and which caused this whole mess in the first place.


Either way, I can't trust the card anymore and now don't trust the brand either.  Without knowing what caused the problem in the first place, I'm going back to Transcend and hoping that sticking with a more well known brand will prevent this from happening again.

View solution in original post


i use SD cards to hold my images but i always upload them to 2 external hard drives for more back up. i have 6 years worth in 1 card with just over 8k pics on it. just recently 3 months worth of pics just vanished off the card but still have over 8k on the card. i never got to upload to my externals so those pics are gone, going to try the recovery program and hope for the best.

It is unclear whether it applies in this case but DO NOT have the computer automatically delete images when you import them. Always make sure the import goes well, even if it is just clicking on a single image to make sure it shows up full size rather than the thumbnail.


I'm having the same issue with the Canon 7d which only has a CF card.  A whole newborn session will not pull up and previous shoots (160 jpg no cr2) .  

Same problem on a SD and CF with 2 different cameras.  Hmmmm


"Without knowing what caused the problem in the first place, I'm going back to Transcend and hoping that sticking with a more well known brand will prevent this from happening again."


What will prevent this from happening again is to not use a SD card for storage. Best practice is to u/l to a computer and back-up sources as quickly as possible. SD cards are not meant to be long term storage devices if they are in constant use. R/W operations all take a tol on any SD card but you should never use a cheap or off brand SD card. Also, never use a micro-SD card. And. always buy from a a know good retailer. Dollar General or Amazon are not good choices.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

I don't use an SD card for long term storage. Not sure where you got that idea from. I use it in the camera and then transfer to my computer and backup to an external hard drive. I also don't use off brand SD cards nor do I buy them from Dollar General.  Nothing wrong with Amazon as a retailer.  They sell all the name brand SD cards that are identical to what you can buy in the store.


Here is where............

"All pictures from yesterday and before are still there."


I agree.

"Nothing wrong with Amazon as a retailer."

 However, you never know for sure if you are dealing with Amazon itself or one of its marketplace retailers. Some of them are known for selling counterfeit SD cards. If you must use Amazon, make sure it is from Amazon.

Same advice applies to eBay. The vernacular use of the term 'Dollar General' is colloquial usage meant to avoid small stores that are known for discounted or perhaps not top quality merchandise. No direct reference to Dollar General itself.

 I've been through it where loss is not an option as are most of the long time responders here on this forum. I will confidently say they will agree with me on this. Now, you are free to heed this warning or perhaps suffer from a counterfeit SD card. That's your choice. With so many good retailers it is foolish not to make use of one of them.


EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!


Although off topic the same advice goes for camera batteries. Always buy Canon brand batteries and froma a known good retailer. Same warning about Amazon and eBay and discount retail stores.  It is nearly impossible for the average person to tell the difference between counterfeit and legitimate SD cards or batteries until it's too late.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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