If you own a digital camera it's quite likely you will one day accidentally format a card with important photos on it. Luckily if you don't re-write over the card you stand a good chance of getting at least some of the files back.
We're looking here at two programs which allow you to perform this recovery. The first, Digital image recovery is a freeware (Ed: Updated Sept 2004, Digital Image Recovery is no longer freeware) program which is a refreshing change! We're comparing it to Photorescue, which is better known but costs $29. Data recovery is a tricky business and we weren't suprised to find different results with each program.
Digital image recovery
This got off to a bad start by incorrectly recognising the capacity of the inserted 16mb card. Otherwise the program is nicely designed with a simple user interface and operation. Even when used with a firewire card reader this program doesn't run very fast but few people will mind if it means they get their images back! The help material is rather limited but there are a few frequently asked questions on the developers homepage.
Being freeware there are no limitations on image recovery with the version you can download. Any images the program manages to recover you can save back onto your PC.
This program offers some more advanced configuration options. This means it is not as user friendly but it is by no means complicated. It is also quite slow at recovering files but managed to detect the card size correctly. Help resources are a lot better and we'd expect them to be as you have to buy this program to gain full functionality. The Photorescue web-site has information on support and purchasing information.
Until you buy the software any images recovered will only be shown as thumbnails. To fully recover the images to your PC you need upgrade from the demo version by buying the software. This is quite a fair system because you can gauge whether it is worth buying from the success of the demo version.
We did identical tests for both products on two different cameras. As both are available as downloads for testing we'd recommend you try both with your own hardware and camera. Results will vary a lot from case to case so the figures below are really only a rough guide.
*.2 because only one fifth of one of the images was recovered.
|Images recovered out of six on a 16Mb CompactFlash card on a Lexar Firewire card-reader.
||Samsung Digimax 350se
|Digital image recovery
If you've lost some images on your memory card both these programs are worth checking out. We prefer Photo Rescue because in our testing it managed to recover more images, you may have different results.