fixing your desktop

Un-format your SD card (Android)

Android 2.2 has a nasty bug where it disables the SD Card on Google Nexus One phones.

Fine, I found a workaround. But there’s a down-side – what happens when you only AFTERWARDS remember that it’s got the ONLY copy of several hundred photos, including plenty of uniques that can never be re-captured?

No way I was getting the photos back – after all, it *formatted* the card.

But … saved by Google’s poor OS … a couple of days after I’d formatted the card, I had the thought:

Hmm. This Android OS has a lot of design flaws and bugs. I wonder if … “formatting” the SD card doesn’t actually format it, but simply marks all the files as deleted?

After all, it’s flash memory – older Flash cards could only be formatted a set number of times before they’d stop working. Maybe, just maybe, Google’s OS doesn’t do what it says it does…

Yep, turns out that’s what it did: mark all the files as deleted, without actually deleting them. So I was able to get back about 95% of my photos. I could probably have got all of them if I’d known in advance that the format … doesn’t format.

Time for … CardRecovery

Card Recovery is awesome. It’s an excellent example of one of the best sales techniques:

  1. Free (no barrier to trying it)
  2. Very easy to use (idiot-proof)
  3. Shows you exactly what you’ll get for your money (it does all the work FIRST, and shows you the photos it’s recovered – all of them!)
  4. Offers a one-click, in-app purchase of the “full” app, that will actually *save* all those photos it’s recovered
  5. Reasonably priced

I got to the end, and was expecting something vicious – $500-$1000 price (after all, they have you in a vice at this point). Their software proved it was possible – the data was still there – so I prepared myself to manually recover the files, even if it took many hours. I’ve been using computers so long that I’ve had to do data-recovery by hand more than once, in the days before data-recovery firms existed.

Most “data-recovery” firms do this: get the customer in, get the physical media off them, show a tiny piece of data to give the customer hope (oftenn deliberately NOT mentioning how much data is missing), then charge outrageously high prices for their services, because at this point it’s hard for the customer to back out of the deal.

CardRecovery was barely $50.

No hesitation, I bought it on the spot. Especially since I’ve now got this handy utility should I ever need it again in the future…

2 replies on “Un-format your SD card (Android)”

Yet again, CardRecovery (now “Card Rescue”) to the rescue … other apps, e.g. WonderShare are snake oil by comparison.

I tried WonderShare Data Recovery – first thing it did, take administrator access to the machine. There is usually no need for that other than to install viruses. Wondershare, I can guess why you did this (although it looks like terrible, terrible app design), but shame on you.

…and then grabbed a list of “deleted” files, but broke its own preview display. Gave me no confidence at all. Pretty logo, terrible software.

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