Do you use USB Flash drives a lot? How about photos, do you take many photos? Do you ever plug in a SD Card from a DSLR into your Mac? If you use these type of devices then inevitably you are going to inadvertently lose some photos or videos. Never fear, there is an excellent, full-featured Video / Photo recovery app for the Mac to the rescue, 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac.
I have used several Flash / SD Card photo recovery apps over the years. They pretty much are a one horse band type of app. They find stuff that was inadvertently deleted from an SD Card or Flash drive. They also find stuff on corrupted devices as well, although this is a bit more difficult.
Enter 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac, a very full-featured data recovery app let me tell you. You can only purchase it from their website. When you do they send you an email with the serial number and a download link. Once you install the app you enter the serial number and are taken to a website where you enter some information. Then you are emailed an Activation code which you enter to activate the app. A bit of a convoluted process, but the directions are pretty clear as you go along.
Lets begin by taking a look at the main window for 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac:
There are no menus in the Mac menubar for this app. Everything is contained in the Window. If you click on the “Options” icon you will see this window:
There are not a lot of Options. You can choose your language from a very long list and choose where the Debug log goes and that is about it.
One of the things you will want to do is click on the “About” icon. You will be taken to this window:
This is where you check for updates to the app. Apparently you have to do that manually. If you click on the update button the app checks for updates and gives you this window:
If there are updates you just select to install them.
321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac works with a lot of different files and devices. Suffice it to say, I am not able to test every possible combination of device and media. What I would like to do is try some typical things that the average person would do. I know, I know, if you are using a Mac you are above average!
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is insert a USB Flash drive or SD Card into your Mac. Just for testing purposes I connected a Flash Drive and SD Card directly to the Mac. I also connected an SD Card in an external card reader that I use and the Flash Drive to a USB Hub. For 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac to see the Flash Drive it had to be connected directly to the Mac. It would not see it connected to my USB 3.0 Hub. The SD Card was seen directly in the Mac and it also was not seen in the external reader. That is just a FYI for you.1
I started by using a USB Flash Drive. Once you have the device connected to your Mac, just click on the “Next,” button bottom-right corner of the main window (see above image). You will be taken to this window:
I want to point out two things here. First, you select the type of media you are searching for using those icons. In this case, “Images” has been selected. Then, you scroll through the list down below to select the type of Device the files came from. In my case I selected “All Devices” because my first test was on a Flash Drive. I think this window could be a little bigger for ease of scrolling. When you scroll through you will see a long list of all kinds of cameras to choose.
Once you have selected the type of file and the correct device you click on the “Next” button and are taken to this window:2
You are presented with a list of volumes that can be searched. The top most volume in this image is my Flash Drive. However, you can scroll through a list of all the volumes that 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac sees. All of my hard drives were listed, both internal and external. Once you have selected your drive just click “Next” and the scan begins:
Those photos are on an erased 8GB Flash Drive. Erasing a Flash Drive is similar to erasing a hard drive. The file structure information is erased and the drive “appears “ to be empty, but all the files that were on it is still there until they are written over. That is why people “zero” out hard drives (write ones and zeros over the drive), to write over all the old files.
In this instance I used a very old Flash Drive that had been erased many times so the recovery took a long time. This app is very thorough which is what you want. I just let it do a scan while I did other things on my Mac.3
When your scan is completed the app gives you a report:
In this case there were no errors. It found a bunch of old files. Click on the “Next” button and you are taken to this window:
If you click on the “Open destination folder” you are taken to the location of your recovered files:
The app automatically puts the “Recovery Folder” on the first level of your Home Folder.
If you look to the right of that little window you will see a “Burn CD/DVD” option. That is an especially nice touch. If you click on that, the app brings up whatever hardware you have to burn optical media:
I scanned a SD Card taken from my Panasonic FZ-1000 DSLR camera. The process is pretty much the same. Here is what the SD Card looked like in the Volumes list:
The card shows right up. But, check out this next image taken during the scan closely:
See that RW2 on the file name of the photos. Those photos are in the RAW file format! 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac will recover RAW photos which is totally cool. All professional or semi-professional photographers take note!
321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac is really good at what it does. It is quite thorough. Keep in mind, the media you are scanning has probably been used over and over again. My typical workflow is to take a bunch of photos with my Panasonic, put the SD Card into my Mac and import the photos, then put the card back in the camera and erase it. As we know, those photos are still on that card.
321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac costs $49 from their website. Yes, that is a little pricey considering there are all kinds of apps on the App Store for under $10. However, this is a more professional app. It works well and is relatively easy to use. The bottomline is just how valuable are your photos and videos to you? To me, travel photos are important, especially if I have spent a lot of money to go somewhere cool. However, photos of my family are irreplaceable!
By the way, 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac can recover “Other Files” from this type of media. I recovered a couple of PDF files as a test. I did two tests with an erased AVCHD movie file from my Panasonic SD Card, but the app did not see it either time. The 321 website states that their app works with many file formats, but there may be some that do not work, YMMV. However, when I changed the video format to MPEG, 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac saw the file just fine:
Here is a little blurb from the 321 website on what type of files it can recover:
Comparing with other Mac photo recovery software, 321Soft USB Flash Recovery for Mac may recover any type of files saved in the flash storage media. The files include photos, music, videos, PDF, office documents, and so on. Especially, the software can recover RAW and HD Video files which other software can’t offer. And we also offer continual upgrade to support the newest digital media storage and media formats.
There are a couple more things I wanted to mention before closing. You can Cancel, Pause, or Resume a scan at any time. And, 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac does not compress your photos or files so there is no loss in quality.
321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac is a good quality app that works quite well. I did not experience any problems during my testing. If you want total photo security then get 321Soft USB Flash Recovery For Mac. You will not regret it. If you wish to proceed a bit more slowly, they do offer a Free Trial.
- I am running a Late 2012 27″ iMac. It runs an older version of USB 3.0. So, YMMV using an external reader for this app. Don’t hesitate to give it a try. ↩
- They call this the Recovery Wizard ↩
- An aside here, if you see the app has found the photos or videos you are looking for you can stop the scan and it will save and export what it has up to that point. This might save you a lot of time. ↩