Canon 7D Tips – Recovering Photos and Video from Formatted Compact Flash Card

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Did you see my latest HD-Video, Christmas in New York City 2010? If you are following me on Facebook, you would know that I had a big problem.  I shot some final video for the piece with my Canon 7D.  I copied the files from my Sandisk CompactFlash card to my computer using a USB card reader.  During the transfer, I received an error saying that the computer could not find a file.  It prompted to Find Again and I clicked Yes and it finished the transfer.  I was tired and did not think twice about it.  Just formatted the card and returned it to the 7D.  The next day when I checked the files, only half of the files were transferred.  And, I already formatted the card!

The first thing I did was call Canon CPS. After all, this is the type of thing that they are there for.  The Canon CPS Rep said that the files were still there as long as I did not write over the card.  Formatting the card through the Canon 7D just puts an instruction on the card that all data can be overwritten.  Unfortunately, that was as helpful as Canon CPS would be.  The rep would not recommend a program to restore the lost files since Canon does not endorse such a program.  He suggested Googling for a programAnd why am I paying to be a Canon CPS Gold Member??

So, I posted the question on Facebook and received a few very good suggestions:

1.  Check the files included with your Compact Flash.

Did your Compact Flash card come with a recovery program?  Sandisk Compact Flash cards come with RescuePRO Deluxe from LC Technology.  This program is easy to use and recovered almost all of the files (both CR2 and MOV files).  Unless you shot JPGs, ignore these JPG files.  They are just the preview shots created by the Canon 7D.



Just select the specific type of files or select “recover Files” to let RescuePRO find everything on the card.  The recovery process will take time and it automatically copies the recovered files to the Output folder.  All files are renumbered based on files timestamp.  Still, the process is easy.  Thanks to both Rachele Labrecque and Steve E Oatway for recommending it.

2.  Piriform Recuva as a FREE alternative.

Andrew Poh recommended Piriform. It’s free but it does require a little more work.  It found just as many files as the Sandisk program, including the one file I really needed which RescuePRO did not recover (the closing Believe video shot in Macy’s).  However, Piriform Recuva recovers the Canon Raw files as TIF files.  You can either use the images as Tiffs or change the extension to “.CR2”.



Instead of automatically recovering all the files like RescuePro, Piriform Recuva lets you select the files to recover.  If you use the Advanced Mode, Recuva will try to preview the file.  However, it will not preview the TIF/CR2 files.

3.  CardRecovery by WinRecovery.

Julie Williams and Donald M. Falls both recommended CardRecovery.  I did not try it but since two Canon users did recommend it, I am passing that along as well.

4.  Do NOT use Easeus Data Recovery Wizard! This program was the top-rated product on C|NET, so I decided to try it as well.  However, this program was a real rip-off.  It only does a partial recovery and forces you to purchase the program to complete the process.  However, Easeus failed to find ANY of the CS2/MOV files.  It only found the low res JPGs which the Canon 7D generated as preview images.

So if you accidentally format a CompactFlash card with needed files, don’t give-up hope.  The files are still there.  Just try one of the above solutions.  And, don’t bother calling Canon CPS.



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Recovering Photos and Video from Formatted Compact Flash Card

Canon 7d Tips – Reformat Corrupt Compact Flash Cards for a Clean Start


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3 Replies to “Canon 7D Tips – Recovering Photos and Video from Formatted Compact Flash Card”

  1. i have exactly the same Sandisk card and same thing that happened. I cannot recover my files. Can you help?

  2. Yes, just use RescuePro which was included with your compact flash card or use either Piriform Recuva or CardRecovery as stated in the article. It will work!

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