Any card can have a bad day, the secret is knowing what to do when it happens to you. – by Afrank99
There’s that sinking feeling when you know something is really wrong. You’ve been shooting for 20 or 30 minutes, your talent is hitting their lines and delivering the best performance all day when you hear the camera click off. What the…???
On the back of your camera is an error message…that’s not good. So you pause the shooting, shut the camera down, take out the storage card, wait for a minute, put the card back in and turn the camera back on.
That’s when you see the dreaded “No Memory Card” message. Your heart starts racing and you get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Your memory card just went bad. Why does it happen? Who knows. Manufacturers are trying to jam gigs of storage space into something just thicker than a credit card, things are going to happen. Sometimes bad things.
If you get the No Memory Card message, don’t panic. Don’t fiddle with the card, don’t try to format it, don’t keep putting it back in your camera. Just stop. Swap in your spare card and keep shooting. If you don’t have a spare data card, or your spare is already full, then you’re done for the day.
You have several options for recovering the data from a bad card.
Commercial Recovery Services
The most reliable are data recovery services like DigitalMedix. It costs more and takes time, but if that’s your footage of a lifetime on that data card, this is the way to go. Let the pros handle it. Believe me, whatever is wrong with your card, they’ve seen worse. The commercial services have the expensive tools and cleanrooms to do data recovery right.
If the footage is important but you’re life won’t be over if you don’t get it back, then go ahead and try a data recovery tool. Many data cards have a data recovery tool on disk in the box, others you have to go to the company website. Try the manufacturers data recovery tool first, follow the directions.
If the manufacturer tool doesn’t do the job, download a copy of PhotoRec and try that. PhotoRec ignores the device formatting and goes straight for the data blocks and can recover almost any type of data file. RAW, JPEG, or MOV. PhotoRec has worked when other solutions fail, so give it shot.
Nothing Is Foolproof
There’s a good chance at least some of your data is boned. Depending on what happened to the card internals, recovery may not be possible. While it’s tempting to bemoan digital data loss, anyone in the business for a long time has lost a can of film to a lab mistake. That was a 100x worse because you usually didn’t find out about until the talent has gone home and sets had been taken down.
At least with a digital card failure you have the opportunity to reshoot right on the spot. It happens to everyone, all you can do is suck it up and move on. And always shoot backing shots.