How to recover lost photos and videos from hard drives

Whether professional or not, usually, we all have a large number of photos and videos stored in computer hard drive. Many also maintain a huge library or archive photos and videos in external hard disk drives. 

But unfortunately, these multimedia files can be lost anytime from hard drive due to varied reasons. Losing your treasured memories or professional work can be distressing. However, the good part is you can recover lost or deleted photos and videos from hard drives. 

Here in this post, learn how to recover lost or deleted pictures and videos from any hard drive of Windows or Mac computer.

Why photos and videos get deleted or lost from hard drives

Sometimes human error and often logical failures result in loss of your precious pictures and video files. Obviously, deletion, and formatting are the most common causes of photos and video files loss from hard drives. File system corruption, improper file transfer, wrong drive partitioning, operating system crash, etc., can also lead to loss of multimedia and other files from hard drives.

Other than these, data loss can occur from failed or damaged hard drives. Usually your hard drive can get damaged or develop bad sectors because of overheating, water/ moisture damage, virus infection, or sudden power outages. 

What you can do to recover lost photos and videos from hard drives

Regardless of the reason of data loss, you can try the below methods to recover the deleted photos and videos from hard drives. Try these three methods on drives of all capacities on Windows and Mac computer.

  • Get back deleted photos and videos from Recycle Bin

Recently deleted files remain in the Recycle Bin of your Windows PC for 30 days. Click on Recycle Bin on your PC. Find and restore your deleted photos and videos.

If you are using Mac system, then check in the Trash folder for deleted multimedia files.

  • Restore photos and videos from backup

Backup is the most recommended practice for protecting photos and videos. It comes as a rescue in catastrophic data loss situations such as hard drives failure, accidental deletion, or formatting. Look for your lost pictures and videos in the backup folders and drives. You might have created one in any external hard drive, SD card, USB, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. Mac users should also check in Time Machine backup for the deleted videos and photos.

  • Restore lost or deleted files using multimedia recovery software 

Thankfully, there are recovery software that can reinstate your deleted, missing, or lost photos and videos. However, it can be daunting choosing from the plethora of options available online. It’s essential you choose the right recovery tool that works in your data loss situation.

Here are some pointers to look at while choosing a photo and video recovery software for hard drives:

  • Your media file recovery tool should be from a trusted source to make sure it is 100% secure to download.
  • The recovery software should support your hard drive type and size.
  • The software should be able to restore files in your data loss situation, such as emptied Recycle Bin, formatting, recovery from failed, damaged, virus infected, or corrupt hard drive, etc.
  • Check if the software can recover the photo and video file formats you are looking for. Some software won’t restore HEIC files from iPhone/ iPad, or uncompressed RAW file formats from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, and other cameras. 
  • Go for a software that offers free trial. This helps to assess its recovery capabilities before purchasing.

Here, we would suggest one such multimedia recovery tool — Stellar Photo Recovery. It is secure, fast to scan, works in all data loss situations, and recovers all types of photo and video file formats. 

Stellar Photo Recovery offers Professional and Premium edition as well. The Professional edition can recover photos, videos and audio files and repair corrupt and damaged photos. While Stellar Photo Recovery Premium can recover as well as repair corrupt photos and videos.

Here are the steps to recover photos and videos from hard drives using Stellar Photo Recovery software:

  • You can Preview the recoverable photos and videos. Click Recover.
  • Connect the hard drive to your PC or Mac and launch Stellar Photo Recovery.
  • Stellar Photo Recovery can scan hard drives up to 6TB capacity.
  • Click Scan. Wait until the scanning ends
  • You can save the recovered photos and video files at a desired location. But don’t save them in the same hard drive from which you recovered.

Best Tips to Prevent Media Files Loss from Hard Drives

  1. Keep your PC or Mac in clean and dust-free environment.
  2. Install antivirus software on computer and keep it updated.
  3. Create an image of the hard drive once you notice signs of drive failure. This will further protect data loss from the damaged HDD. You can use software like Stellar Photo Recovery or other to create hard drive image.
  4. Protect your computer system from moisture, water, or liquids.


Files recovery software can ease your photos and video recovery process. Just that you have to wisely pick the recovery tool. It should be secure and stand to its recovery claim. Some software show the preview of the recoverable photos and videos in the demo itself. 

However, first find the deleted photos and videos in the Recycle Bin, Trash, and backup drives, if you have any. May be you are able to recover the deleted videos and photos from hard drive without the help of any recovery software.
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