Did your microSD card get mistakenly formatted? Don’t despair just yet, as most of your files are probably still there, somewhere. Even if your computer tells you the microSD card is empty, you might still recover most of your files. Read along as we explain how.
How do most storage media work?
A lot of people don’t know this but when a storage medium (SD, SSD, microSD, hard disk) gets formatted, most of the time it does not alter the recorded data.
With your dashcam, video data gets recorded on the microSD card. As a video recording completes, the address table, which lets your dashcam know where each file starts and ends, gets updated. Then, when the card is full and it starts to loop, the first recorded files get overwritten one at a time, while the address table keeps updating.
Most devices work the same so it is probably true for your other digital recording devices such as DSLR, mirrorless camera, or action camera.
What happens when you format a microSD card?
What formatting does is simply rebuild the file structure or address tables. Formatting gets rid of all the information relative to where the data (in case of dashcams, the videos) is located on the storage medium. In other words, formatting just erases the address tables without overwriting the actual files. Note how fast the formatting process usually is: that’s because only a few kilobytes of data are erased. The same happens when erasing a single file: the file does not really go away until it is overwritten. In fact, most recovery software should be able to help you recover most videos that have not been overwritten yet.
How to recover files after formatting or deleting them?
If you find out that for any reason your microSD card got mistakenly formatted, you can probably recover the videos if you act soon enough.
- The first thing to do is to shut down the device and take out the microSD card to prevent new data from overwriting exiting files.
- You will need to use a computer and recovery software to recover the files. Google “file recovery software” and try recommended free software solutions first.
- Whatever software program you use, it will proceed to read the microSD card bytes by bytes, which can take several minutes. Doing so, it will list up all the files it is able to detect.
In our test, we tried and had success with Recuva for Windows but other software might work as well.
NOTE: We do not work directly with the third-party service provider(s) mentioned in this article. Please perform the procedures above at your own risk.