Software to Repair corrupt and damaged JPEG files

By | June 7, 2018

Something I have been doing lately is looking into repair of damaged and corrupt JPEG photos. I have been offering a JPEG repair service for a while now. Learning from that I have created a utility that addresses most common issues with corrupt and damaged JPEG files. Basically there are two types of issues I deal with most:

  1. JPEG file is too corrupt to open with any photo viewer or editor. Usually Windows Explorer is unable to show previews or thumbnails.
  2. File open but the contents do not display correctly. Colors are ‘off’ and image data is misaligned.

Corrupt and damaged JPEG files

A JPEG image consists basically of two parts:

  1. The JPEG Header
  2. Actual image data, which is compressed binary data.

The header

If the header is corrupt, and only the header, by far the easiest plus the most effective way to repair the file is with the use of a ‘sample’ file and a hex editor such as HxD. I have written about this in more detail here. In short you cut the header of a known good file and stick to the image data of the corrupt file. This process can be easily automated.

The image data

The image data depends on the information in the header to be decoded correctly. Without this info it’s just a binary blob. Manipulating the binary blob is hard to automate and beyond the scope of this blog post. Still, the JPEG Repair Utility I introduce in this post does repair invalid JPEG markers within this blob which is often required before the data can be manipulated at all.

You can repair invalid markers manually using HxD and JpegSnoop.

My utility to repair corrupt and damaged JPEG files

My utility JPGRepair allows you to repair corrupt and damaged JPEG files yourself using a reference or sample file. There are two conditions for the method used to be successful:

  1. File contains image data.
  2. A known good sample file is available.

In other words, the need for image data means that it is the JPEG header that is damaged or corrupt. The sample needs to be intact and shot with the same camera using the same settings (resolution, quality settings ) as the corrupt file(s).

Free version is functional except for the batch mode being disabled.

Meet JPGRepair

JPEG Repair software to Repair corrupt and damaged JPEG files

The JPEG repaired in this example had a corrupt header + invalid markers in image stream. Due to the fact the jpeg contains restart markers the file is almost completely repaired.

JPGRepair is a utility to repair corrupt and damaged JPEG files that suffer from a corrupt header. It takes a known good sample, determines the header, processes the header and merges this header with the image data of the corrupt files.

Free version

The freeware version is functional and can be used to repair corrupt and damaged JPEG files, one at the time. The full version contains batch mode allowing you repair multiple JPEGs automatically.

Repair corrupt and damaged JPEG files with the free version

Prepare a folder to copy the corrupt JPEGs and Sample file to. Always work on copies of the corrupt files! The sample file needs to be shot with the same camera, using the same settings! Rename the sample to ‘sample.jpg’.

Download and extract JPGRepair. There is no setup, just copy the .exe file where ever you like. Run JPGRepair (double click).

  1. Select the folder containing the corrupt and sample files.
  2. Select the file you want to repair (remember, you can select only one at the time using the free version).
  3. Click Repair.

Files that JPGRepair was able to fix will be saved automatically.

These videos explain how to repair corrupt and damaged JPEGs using JPG-Repair


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