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Expert Reviews

You may find that this is your saving grace, and it certainly recovers images that have been deleted…

Reviewed By: Christopher Brennan
Website: Expert Reviews

“Digital memory cards for cameras are incredibly robust and have been found to survive being crushed, immersed in water and even fired from tanks. The cards themselves may not have come through unscathed, but the data stored on them has.

This is all well and good, but no amount of military grade protection can account for a user accidentally deleting all the images on a card. Whether that be by absent-mindedly dragging images to the trash and deleting them, or by formatting the wrong card when it’s in the camera, mistakes do happen.

If you have accidentally lost any images, then Photorecovery Professional 2010 is for you. As the name implies, it’s designed specifically to recover pictures. More precisely, it can recover deleted images, video, audio and text files.

The list of memory card formats it supports is long and includes Compact Flash, SD and Sony Memory Stick. It even covers USB flash drives.

The software itself is, visually at least, a little underwhelming. The top row of icons look as though they’ve been cut and pasted from other applications, and the start and cancel scan buttons are poorly designed, too. However, this is not a program that has to look great, it just has to work. Confusingly, your Mac’s hard disks are listed as removable flash drives, so be careful not to start a full scan of your hard disk. There are some other built-in tools, such as a backup utility and a benchmarking section, but these are fairly primitive.

We tested Photorecovery Professional with a range of memory formats and a couple of thumb drives to see how well it performed. We didn’t have any disks that had been corrupted or developed a fault, but some of the cards were very old. A 16MB Compact Flash and an SD card that we found at the back of a drawer served up the first test.

A short scan later and there were some images to recover, plus a swathe of text files that contained nothing but unintelligible garbage, but these recovered images were more than five years old. As for a more recently formatted card results were slightly better. We formatted a 4GB MicroSD card, and though the scan took appreciably more time to complete, all the images we’d wiped off were restored at their full size.

Aside from a basic scan, you can select what to search for by file type. Obviously, Jpeg and Tiff formats are in the list, but so are the various Raw formats, and you can split them down by manufacturer. This means if you’re only looking for Raw images from a Nikon, you can restrict the scan to just that format.

For £31.72 Photorecovery Professional seems like a bargain, especially if it recovers those precious lost images. There is, however, one rather large caveat, which is that this price only covers you for a one-year licence. After 365 days, you’ll have to pay up again to continue using the software, though this may not be a major issue if it recovers the only copy of your photos.

Of course, with the range of new cameras and potential memory formats available, you may have to upgrade anyway. The reasoning behind this probably lies with the fact that potential customers will only rarely use the software and won’t be that bothered about the price when it comes to recovering their images. Keep it in mind though, especially if you’re a serial accidental formatter.

It’s difficult not to recommend Photorecovery Professional, even with its restrictive licensing issues. If you’ve accidentally formatted a card or are just trying to recover images you thought were long gone, then its price is immaterial. We can’t guarantee that the software will definitely save images you thought were deleted, but in most cases we recovered images of some description from our flash cards. This software is ugly, but in the main it works. Just keep in mind that you’re only really renting a year’s worth of functionality.”

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