Recover lost or deleted GoPro video from SD cards
Why GoPro video recovery is difficult but possible
GoPro video recovery is difficult but possible. Before arriving at this page you may have already tried recovering your lost video using free software like PhotoRec or Recuva, or even payed software, only to discover recovered video files are corrupt and won’t play.
There are two major factors contributing to why it is so difficult to recover GoPro MP4 video files, much like why it is so difficult to recover Canon DSLR videos.
- The file system on SD Cards. Commonly SD cards are formatted with a FAT32 or exFAT file system. If data is lost due to deletion or formatting the card, all meta data pointing to specific clusters that make up a file is lost.
As a result file system based file recovery software can no longer determine which specific clusters were assigned to any specific (video) file.
- MP4 video files recorded by GoPro (and also Canon DSLR) cameras are often highly fragmented.
File carving software typically looks for the start and end of a file and assume all clusters in between part of the file. In case of fragmented files, adjacent clusters may belong to different files however.
As a result file carving software such as PhotoRec can not locate the complete files. File carving software only works on unfragmented or contiguous files
GoPro Video recovery using JPEG Recovery LAB
JPEG Recovery LAB is an advanced file carver capable of reconstructing non-contiguous or fragmented files. Rather than relying on header/footer (start of file and end of file) detection. By examining different fragments JPEG Recovery LAB reassembles these fragments to produce a view-able video whenever possible.
Producing view-able GoPro MP4 video files takes:
- Lots of time
- Lots of memory and processing power
Be prepared that JPEG Recovery LAB will need a lot of time and requires a beefy PC to recover GoPro video footage. When you have the choice picking a PC consider:
- 8 GB memory (minimal)
- More CPU cores is better. Choose the one with more cores over speed.
Steps to recover GoPro video
- Download and install JPEG Recovery LAB.
- Insert SD Card into a card reader. A card reader is always prefered over attaching a device to the PC using an USB cable!
- Run JPEG Recovery LAB.
- Select the drive letter for the SD Card. If this is not detected, select the card reader instead.
- Click Start.
- Select the file types you want JPEG Recovery LAB to scan for, in this case MP4.
- Settings: On lower memory systems (( GB and less), you may want to limit the number of parallel threads to 2. For the rest of settings, go with defaults.
- Click Start and be prepared to wait.
- Once the scan is finished, select files and copy them (licensed version required to copy – Buy Now). Under ideal circumstances JPEG Recovery LAB allows for viewing previews.
However, if files are technically damaged and thus listed as such by JPEG Recovery LAB, they may still be largely playable. I recommend to save all files! Use a decent video player to examine the files after recovery (recommended VLC).
I had a 32GB card full of 2.8K resolution videos (large files). I put the card in an SD reader and did a cut and paste of all the videos from the SD card to an external SSD drive (Cut and paste was performed on an Ubuntu Linux box). The files could not be fully played after copying them to the SDD drive so I wanted to undo the situation. The “cut” does a delete unfortunately so I am trying to recover the original files on the SD card. Your software found video files but they were not previewable/playable. I cannot purchase if I can’t confirm the files will be playable. I have not found software on the market that can recover these files yet. Also, I have not written to the SD driver since the files were deleted so the data should be recoverable.
That’s not encouraging.
That’s a bit of a catch 22 then because the only way to verify will be by actually recovering the files. Note that if not playable I will refund.