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Expert Memory Card Recovery Service - The Data Doctor

There is nothing worse than a camera displaying "No Images Found" after you've just taken a holiday's worth of pictures, or a computer throwing up error messages after you've inserted a memory card to transfer your precious images over. Before you do anything, contact The Data Doctor.

The Data Doctor can recover deleted videos and movies from all the common memory cards such as SD, CompactFlash, Memory Stick, MicroSD, as well as older cards such as xD, ZIP Drives, 3.5" floppy disks, MMC, SmartMedia, USB thumb drives/sticks, video hard drives, mini DVD and SxS Memory Cards For Sony XDCAM EX Series.

Data corruption is an unfortunate fact of the digital world. No matter the format and no matter the file type, we can help.


See What Our Customers Say

How to Recover Your Data

Simply bring your card into store, or alternately download this mail order processing form (PDF) to accompany your order.

michaels Camera Video Digital
Attn: Data Doctor
GPO Box 2047
Melbourne 3001

For more information on The Data Doctor data recovery services, please read our Data Doctor FAQ.

Contact the Data Doctor at data@michaels.com.au, or call on 03 9672 2244

The Data Doctor is the leading photo recovery service for memory cards and Hard Disk drives used by digital camera and digital video cameras. We can recover lost, deleted, corrupted or formatted photos and video files from various memory cards and Video Hard Disk drives.

The Data Doctor Recovery Service uses a number of innovative media recovery algorithms and is the best recovery solution for image recovery, picture recovery, photo rescue, data recovery, photo restore or digital media recovery whether files were deleted, the media was corrupted or formatted.

Our unique technology completes those impossible recovery tasks quickly locating and restoring files.

The Data Doctor recovery service is safe and risk-free. We perform READ-ONLY operations on your digital media and do not move, delete, and modify the data to avoid causing further damage or overwriting. We recover the photos and movie clips and save them on a DVD or USB drive.

If you suspect your memory card is damaged we highly recommend that you stop further operations on the memory card (including taking new pictures, deleting images or formatting the memory card).

Additionally, we strongly suggest that you bring your damaged card directly to us and not to less experienced stores/services or operators - unfortunately, we have received cards that have been permanently destroyed by less experienced operators doing "their best" to recover images.

Types Of Card Damage

In general, the causes of the above symptoms that stop us from accessing the data fall into two categories - Logical Damage and Physical Damage:

Logical Damage includes file system corruption, accidentally deleted, etc.; in such cases, the devices are physically in good condition, and files can be recovered by using our specialised software techniques.

Physical Damage is data loss caused by damage of device components (PCB, controller chip) and service area information (both in controller chip and flash memory chip); recovery from such kind of devices requires the ability to work on the NAND chip directly for reading the data and rebuilding the data to an original status without the service area information (controller content).

The Data Doctor Recovery Service Features:

Supported Situations:

Symptoms Of A Damaged Memory Card

Error messages like "memory card error", "card locked", "card error", or an error code on your camera screen or the card may not be be able to be seen by your computer

You may see the card but no images are visible on your computer.

Your computer or camera may prompt you to re-format the memory card or your camera may refuse to take additional pictures or to view taken pictures.

Tips To Avoid Memory Card Error & Damage

Most card failures are very sudden. If you experience any problems with a card such as random camera lock-ups, or random file corruption stop using the card. When a memory card begins to fail physically, total failure is not very far - backup at once.

Card Handling

Card Usage

There is a limited life on memory cards. A typical flash memory card unit has about 10,000 write/erase operations. Rather than risking your images, it is safer replace memory cards used frequently over many years.

Do not fill the card to 100% capacity. Taking the last picture can lead to some corruption. There are several reasons for this: the camera may have underestimated the size of that last picture and could run out of space, some cameras have firmware bugs that causes them to wrap their file writes around and erase the beginning of the card in such circumstances. Also, the last sectors of a card might be slightly unreliable.

"Eject" cards properly if your operating systems requires you to do so. ...ensure that you "Unplug or Eject Hardware" (Windows) or "Unmount" (MAC/Linux) your memory card or camera from your computer prior to its disconnection. Format your card regularly.

While formatting usually does not erase data from the card, it allows you to start each session in a clean known state and minimizes the impact of file fragmentation.

Formatting in the camera or on your computer is,in theory, identical. However, if you are not a familiar with the different types of file systems, you may choose the wrong one on your computer. Accordingly it is recommend to "in-camera" format instead of "in-computer" format.

Verify each file transfer to your computer. Copying images/videos to a computer is not always successful. Check that the files were copied correctly to the computer and are usable at full size before reusing the card. Make 100% certain that all your images are safe before shooting again on a card. Do not reuse cards before you are sure.

Firmware & Editing

Make sure your camera firmware is up to date. Digital cameras contain their own firmware. They are, in fact, like small computers running normal computer programs. Bugs do happen, incompatibilities do arise, especially when pushing the edge of performance.

Most manufacturers release firmware updates from time to time.

Do not edit pictures on the card from your computer. Edited pictures may take a bit less or a lot more space on the card, however, they may be saved in a format that is unrecognised by the camera. Editing pictures will increase fragmentation.

Data Doctor FAQ

What Are The Possible Causes Of Memory Card Failure ?

Obvious damage such as plugging a USB flash memory device into a laptop of desktop computer and banging it by accident causing the port of the device to become broken, bent or damaged.

Bad workmanship issues can cause flash memory storage devices to stop working at any moment. Manufacturers are constantly using cutting edge parts combined with outdated parts. When a manufacturer can save a few cents using say one type of circuit as opposed to the next more durable circuit on a USB memory device they will. For consumers this causes devices to fail faster and more easily.

Attack by viruses - cards use complex low level sector virtualization called "wear leveling algorithm" to distribute the wear evenly across the memory array and maximize the number of write cycles it can sustain. This algorithm can sometimes only partially kick in.

Inadvertent use of fake, counterfeit or fraudulent memory cards. A large number of consumers have been deceived by inferior quality, unpopular cheap, slow rebadged memory cards. These are most often purchased on the internet, markets and Asian sources. Often, the price of these cards appears to be "too good to be true".

Common Symptoms Of Corrupt and Damaged Memory Cards

We offer a no data no charge promise as well as a strict privacy policy designed to protect our customers.

What Our Customers Say

"I thank you for your persistence and skills in retrieving video data from my Sony SR5 camcorder which suffered water damage while on holidays last year in Europe.This prevented me from powering up the camcorder and as a result I couldn't download several hundred video clips recorded on the internal hard drive.

I particularly liked the concept of paying a set amount depending on data stored and if you were unsuccessful I would be refunded. This gave me great comfort and confidence in your professionalism.

You kept me informed by phone and then email throughout the process which became tricky and time consuming. I was prepared for the worst and accepting half our recorded European holiday was lost, but this was not the case. New options were continually being tried even going as far as looking for a comparable camera and inserting my hard drive and extracting the data that way.

Great job and well done to you and your staff, every time we look back at these images we will remember Peter Michael. 

Additional comment:

I have edited all 800+ video clips and burned them to a Blue ray disc.I'm extremely happy with the end result and quality. I thank you again for your persistence and engineering expertise, we were pessimistic about the outcome and had resigned ourselves the images wouldn't be retrieved.
Thanks again
Kind regards "Hans&Libby J"

About Flash Memory And Data Recovery

Flash memory is a non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. It is a technology that is primarily used in memory cards and USB flash drives for general storage and transfer of data between computers and other digital products.

It is a specific type of EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) that is erased and programmed in large blocks; in early flash the entire chip had to be erased at once.

Flash memory costs far less than byte-programmable EEPROM and therefore has become the dominant technology wherever a significant amount of non-volatile, solid state storage is needed.

Example applications include:

It has also gained popularity in the game console market, where it is often used instead of EEPROMs or battery-powered SRAM to save game data.

Since flash memory is non-volatile, no power is needed to maintain the information stored in the chip. In addition, flash memory offers fast read access times (although not as fast as volatile DRAM memory used for main memory in PCs) and better kinetic shock resistance than hard disks.

Another feature of flash memory is that when packaged in a "memory card," it is reasonably durable, being able to withstand intense pressure, and extremes of temperature.

These characteristics explain the popularity of flash memory in portable devices such as digital cameras, USB-stick drives and many others. Flash memory can be divided mainly into NOR and NAND types through its development.

NOR-based flash has long erase and write times, but provides full address and data buses, allowing random access to any memory location. This makes it a suitable replacement for older ROM chips, which are used to store program code that rarely needs to be updated, such as a computer's BIOS or the firmware of set-top boxes. Its endurance is 10,000 to 1,000,000 erase cycles. NOR-based flash was the basis of early flash-based removable media; Compact Flash was originally based on NOR-based flash, later cards moved to less expensive NAND flash.

Almost all modern flash memory devices use NAND flash memory, named for the internal logic arrangement of its memory chips. NAND flash chips have low cost and are extremely compact and capable of fast read/write operations.

A typical NAND flash memory device will contain one or more memory chips, very similar in appearance to those seen on memory modules or video cards, and a controller which handles the mediation between the memory and the interface connecting it to other devices.

NAND Flash Memories Basics

NAND Flash memories are accessed much like block devices such as hard disks or memory cards. Each block consists of a number of pages. The pages are typically 512 or 2,048 or 4,096 bytes in size. Associated with each page are a few bytes (typically 12-16 bytes) that should be used for storage of an error detection and correction checksum.

Typical block sizes include:

While reading and programming is performed on a page basis, erasure can only be performed on a block basis. Another limitation of NAND flash is data in a block can only be written sequentially. Number of Operations (NOPs) is the number of times the sectors can be programmed. So far this number for MLC flash is always one whereas for SLC flash it is four.

NAND devices also require bad block management by the device driver software, or by a separate controller chip. SD cards, for example, include controller circuitry to perform bad block management and wear levelling. When a logical block is accessed by high-level software, it is mapped to a physical block by the device driver or controller. A number of blocks on the flash chip may be set aside for storing mapping tables to deal with bad blocks, or the system may simply check each block at power-up to create a bad block map in RAM. The overall memory capacity gradually shrinks as more blocks are marked as bad.

NAND relies on ECC to compensate for bits that may spontaneously fail during normal device operation. This ECC may correct as little as one bit error in each 2048 bits, or up to 22 bits in each 2048 bits. If ECC cannot correct the error during read, it may still detect the error. When doing erase or program operations, the device can detect blocks that fail to program or erase and mark them bad. The data is then written to a different, good block, and the bad block map is updated.

Most NAND devices are shipped from the factory with some bad blocks which are typically identified and marked according to a specified bad block marking strategy. By allowing some bad blocks, the manufacturers achieve far higher yields than would be possible if all blocks had to be verified good. This significantly reduces NAND flash costs and only slightly decreases the storage capacity of the parts.

When executing software from NAND memories, virtual memory strategies are often used: memory contents must first be paged or copied into memory-mapped RAM and executed there (leading to the common combination of NAND + RAM). A memory management unit (MMU) in the system is helpful, but this can also be accomplished with overlays. For this reason, some systems will use a combination of NOR and NAND memories, where a smaller NOR memory is used as software ROM and a larger NAND memory is partitioned with a file system for use as a non-volatile data storage area.

NAND is best suited to systems requiring high capacity data storage. This type of flash architecture offers higher densities and larger capacities at lower cost with faster erase, sequential write, and sequential read speeds, sacrificing the random-access and execute in place advantage of the NOR architecture.

Data Recovery

Caution is required when storing data as the devices that the data is stored on can tend to fail with no warning. Many of the flash memory devices also known as thumb drives, memory cards or USB sticks fail with zero warning. These devices can fail for many reasons, some due to bad workmanship and others fail due to misuse.