JPEG Recovery LAB – Digital photo recovery for JPEG, CR2 and NEF

JPEG Recovery LAB advanced photo recoveryJPEG Recovery LAB is specialized data recovery software to recover fragmented digital photos from corrupt memory cards. To recover digital photos from a (NTFS) hard disk you’re better off using generic file recovery software, even with fragmented files.

JPEG Recovery LAB works with the entire media, (memory card, or with a disk image file of the memory card), instead of trying to fix files already recovered. To repair individual photos, try our JPEG Recovery Service instead.

JPEG Recovery LAB is slow but thorough. By building a complete ‘picture’ of all clusters/sectors on the media, and rendering each digital image file individually, it can even put fragmented files back together.

JPEG Recovery LAB is a so called ‘carver’. Unlike conventional undelete software, it does not rely on file system (FAT, NTFS) structures to detect files. So it works as long as the file data itself is still present on the source medium. It works even if the file system is completely FUBAR(?).

JPEG Recovery LAB will undelete, unerase and recover pictures, images and files lost on corrupted, formatted or damaged compact flash, SD cards, smartmedia, memory sticks, multimedia or secure digital memory cards when other photo recovery software fails.

Apart from JPEG files (.JPG) it can also recover .CR2 files (Canon RAW files), .NEF files (Nikon RAW files) and .MP4 video, encoded in H.264 format. For all mentioned file types JPEG Recovery LAB does advanced carving and is able to put fragmented files back together.

Lost or deleted photos? We can help!
Already tried other software which failed? We still can help!

What’s the deal with digital photo recovery fro memory cards?

Most digital images are stored on FAT based formatted media (memory cards mostly) by smart phones and digital cameras. Once files are deleted or otherwise lost, all entries in the file allocation table are ‘reset’. Thus it is no longer possible for conventional undelete software to exactly determine which clusters were part of the deleted file. As a result all fragmented files will be corrupt after recovery.

On mostly NTFS formatted disks (assuming the Windows OS) fragmentation is not that much of an issue. Even fragmented files that were lost due to deletion or formatting the disk can be recovered using the file system (MFT).

Back to memory cards: The bulk of all photo recovery software available on the market scans the media on specific byte sequences that mark the start and end of a digital image file (header/footer detection). By taking all data from the start and end of a file, a new image is saved. Again, this method will fail with fragmented files as these files aren’t stored in one piece. Explain this ->.

As a result an often heard complaint is that files are corrupt after data recovery. Even if the previews shown by the recovery software looked okay! Explain this ->.


Fragmented JPEG recovered by simple header/footer carver

Fragmented JPEG recovered by simple header/footer carver

Fragmented JPEG recovered by JPEG Recovery LAB

Fragmented JPEG recovered by JPEG Recovery LAB

An estimation is that in general 10 – 20% of the photos on a memory card are fragmented. It depends on usage of course. On a ‘fresh’ card, only 20% filled you will see less fragmentation than on card that’s 80% full. Specially if every now and then a few photos are deleted to free up space.

How JPEG Recovery LAB is different (and why you should try it)

JPEG Recovery LAB does not rely on the file allocation tables (FAT) or simple header/footer detection (simple carving) like undelete and file system based file recovery software. Nor does it do simple header/footer carving like the bulk of photo recovery software does.

Instead it builds a map of all clusters/sectors on the media (the memory card or an image of the card) and starts puzzling files together (advanced carving). All promising combinations are tried and validated. Validations works by actually rendering the files in memory. This is a CPU and memory intensive process which is why JPEG Recovery LAB is slower than simple header/footer carvers. It needs loads of memory to keep track of partial successful combinations. But is also why it will be able to recover or reconstruct files that other software can not.

Rendering is what photo viewers and editors do as well: they interpret and decode the binary data of a digital image file to turn it into a view-able picture. When you view the picture, you can tell if it looks okay or not. This is what JPEG Recovery LAB tries doing as well.

After complete analysis JPEG Recovery LAB can show you three categories of files:

  • Contiguous
  • Fragmented
  • Corrupt


These are non fragmented files that also can be recovered by conventional undelete software (mostly) and photo recovery software. However as JPEG Recovery LAB validates all these files, you can be certain that they are intact.


These files are scattered over the media in two or more fragments. Typical undelete or photo recovery tools can not recover these. JPEG Recovery LAB can and will even show you where the different parts of the file are on the memory card. Also, JPEG Recovery LAB validates the images you can be certain that you will be able to open and view them in your photo viewer after recovery.

Damaged or corrupt

The files in this category can not be recovered as it is determined they are not complete. Parts of the data are simply missing and non of the combinations render a valid digital image file. The most likely cause being that parts of the file data are overwritten.

With REAL previews

Many digital image formats allow for the embedding of a lower quality preview image. Many photo recovery tools display these preview images. The fact that the preview is displayed does not mean the actual image data is intact.

JPEG Recovery LAB shows ‘previews’ by rendering the actual image data. This means that if the preview is correct, the image data is as well. If JPEG Recovery LAB shows you a correct preview, it is a guarantee that it can recover an intact photo.


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