Can You Recover Permanently Deleted Photos?

Permanent photo deletion queries answered!

by: - Last updated on: July 9th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Data recovery is one of the most misunderstood topics in computing and often leaves you wondering what sorts of deleted data can be recovered.
  • As such, one of the most common queries is whether it’s possible to recover permanently deleted photos (or other media) from your storage media. And if it’s possible, the question that follows is if it’s possible to prevent the recovery of permanently deleted files?
  • We take a detailed look at how photo recovery and file eraser software work and when to use each of them.

File deletions, especially deletion of photos, can either be wilful deletion or accidental deletion. There are certain situations where you really want to get rid of some photos, for good. And you would delete them from your folder and be smart enough to empty your Trash or Recycle Bin as well.

storage media data recovery

Now, here’s the thing. If you empty your Trash, you might think that the files are gone for good. However, certain files (videos, photos) that have been deleted can still be recovered by third-party recovery software like Stellar Photo Recovery or PhotoRec.

So what you thought as ‘permanent deletion of photos’ isn’t really PERMANENT since some of these excellent data recovery software can bring those photos back to life. Granted, certain criteria are met.

What are these conditions? Is there a way to recover a permanently deleted photo? And can you prevent the recovery of a photo? Allow us to explain.

Photo Recovery Software

In general, pretty much all data recovery utilities, at their core, offer the said functionality, which is to help you recover your lost/deleted files. And for the most part, a lot of them do manage to live up to their claims. Except that, the accuracy and efficiency with which they recover data vary widely across the board, and the recovery of permanently deleted files remains questionable on most of them.

With regards to the former concern in the previous point, Stellar Photo Recovery comes as a notable exception. It steps in and helps you recover your lost photos quickly and accurately. As a photo recovery tool, Stellar’s offering stands out from the rest due to its easy-to-use interface and support for extensive file and storage media types, which make it ideal for various use cases.

Assuming you accidentally deleted some photos, you can easily recover them using a genuine photo recovery software like Stellar.

Using Stellar Photo Recovery is pretty straightforward: all you need to do is perform three simple steps, and it’ll retrieve your deleted media files.

Stellar Photo Recovery

To increase the chances of finding the lost media files, the software offers the deep scan functionality, which carries out a thorough scan of your storage medium to locate your deleted media files so you can retrieve them easily.

Similarly, another handy feature it provides is resume recovery. The feature works in conjunction with the save scan information functionality, which allows you to save the scanned result, and gives you the ability to use the scanned results to perform recovery at a later time.

With Stellar Photo Recovery, unlike what its name suggests, not only can you recover your deleted photos but can also retrieve your deleted audio and video files in various file formats.

It supports a wide range of storage media, such as HDDs, SSDs, SD cards, flash drives, cameras, and camcorders, and comes in handy in situations where you’ve accidentally deleted media files from a storage medium, formatted a drive, got a malware-infected drive, or have a totally inaccessible storage media.

Recently, there were reports by some users of WD MyBook Live that their multimedia content got erased automatically due to some bugs. But some of them were able to recover deleted photos using software like Stellar Photo Recovery.

Recovering Permanently Deleted Photos

At large, most data recovery utilities fail to identify and recover permanently deleted photos from a storage medium. This is because a permanently deleted file is hard to recover, and not many data recovery utilities can manage to pull it off.

Hence, you’ll often find them playing around with the definition of the word “permanent” — inferring permanent deletion as deleting files from everywhere on a computer, including the trash/recycle bin — to attract attention. In reality, however, permanent deletion is anything but that.

When you delete a file on your computer, the pointer corresponding to its sector on the storage medium is removed by the operating system and marked as available/free; the file, itself, isn’t deleted. This approach is taken by operating systems to save time, as removing a file permanently would require them to overwrite the sector with new data, which would consume a lot of time.

So when you delete a file from your storage, including the recycle bin/trash, you don’t technically “permanently delete” it; it’s just its indexing that’s removed to prevent the operating system from identifying it.

While most data recovery utilities promise to recover files in such situations, they often fail to deliver. However, there are some exceptions. One such is the one we mentioned above, which uses specific data recovery techniques to retrieve recently deleted or permanently deleted photos from the media. Of course, it’s a given that, to increase your chances of data recovery, you’ll still need to avoid using the storage medium.

So if you accidentally delete your important photos/videos/audio files from your computer, including the recycle bin/trash, Stellar Photo Recovery will help you locate your lost media files and assist you in recovering them.

How to Prevent Recovery of Permanently Deleted Photos?

Unlike regular deletion, permanent deletion involves wiping off the entire data on a storage medium, either via specialized sanitization machines or erasure utilities, to remove every bit of data from it.

Talking about the software approach — since that’s the most accessible for most individuals — when a storage medium undergoes permanent deletion, it’s constantly overwritten with different kinds of data to make your deleted data irrecoverable. As a result, since there’s practically no trace of your original data left, it’s extremely difficult for any data recovery software to identify and recover this data.

Now that you have an understanding of what classifies as a permanent deletion, let’s find out how you can wipe off your personal/confidential data from a storage medium effectively. You might need to do this if you’re selling your computer or storage device, lending them to someone, sending them for repair, or disposing them off entirely to ensure your data isn’t recovered and accessed by anyone.

As we’ve already mentioned, data wiping/erasure tools are the most common choice to wipe off your storage device. These tools work by overwriting the storage medium several times with different kinds of data to make your deleted photo files irrecoverable.

One such basic tool is Eraser, which allows you to remove all your personal data from your storage medium. However, it’s limited in functionality and only available for the Windows operating system, so if you’re a Mac user, you’ll have to check out some other alternative.

BitRaser data erasure software

Fortunately, Stellar also has its own data erasure software called BitRaser File Eraser that promises to wipe off all your sensitive data from your computer, HDDs, SSDs, and another storage medium beyond recovery. And the best part is, it’s available for both Windows and macOS.

Besides media, the software also allows you to clear your entire browsing history from Chrome, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, and other web browsers. If you’ve banked on your device, you can totally remove all of your banking details (emails, passwords, etc.) saved on your browser and remove app traces and cookies to safeguard your sensitive data.

Not just browsers, though, BitRaser File Eraser also ensures the safety of your data across other apps on your device, such as messengers, email apps, news apps, etc. So you can completely remove your data from these apps as well without leaving behind any traces.

Furthermore, to add to your convenience, the software provides a scheduling feature, which lets you schedule the erasure of files, folders, etc., on your system. For this, all you have to do is choose an erasure frequency, and the software will automatically clean your storage at that time. If there are certain files on your storage that you don’t want to delete, you can add them to the ignore list to skip their erasure.

BitRaser File Eraser also makes finding items for erasure quick and easy. So if there’s a specific set of files that you want to wipe, you can use the search and wipe feature to search for the file by its name without having to navigate through several files and folders.

Lastly, to secure your permanent wiping, you also have the option to erase the deleted data, which helps you permanently shred and destroy the file to make it irrecoverable for any data recovery software. Among the list of various features, one that gives BitRaser File Eraser the upper hand over erasure software is its support for specialized erasure standards, such as those defined by the US Department of Defense. These standards are internationally recognized for media sanitization and used by most major entities to sanitize all kinds of storage devices.

So if you’ve got personal photos (or other media) on a device/storage media that you no longer wish to use, it’s best to completely wipe them off to remove every bit of your data and make it irrecoverable. That way, even if someone tries to use a data recovery tool on your device/storage media to retrieve its data, they won’t be able to recover any of it.

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