How to repair corrupt jpg files/restore data from a corrupt SD card

This post is exceptionally not about virtualization – but maybe it is usefull for you in the near future…

My brother’s 8 GB SD card became unreadable/damaged as it was removed while there was read/write access to it.

From about 500 pictures of the last holiday only 20 were readable. When opening the other ones, the following errors came up:

  • Decode error! JPEG datastream contains no image!
  • Can’t open this picture because the file appears to be damaged, corrupted, or is too large

We tried checkdisk (chkdsk /F and chkdsk /r) and a lot of other free available data restore/recovery tools.

Most of them were not really free and you had to pay before you really knew if they can help you.

Finally I found a tool that helped us to restore all the photos (or nearly all… only ten out of 500 were definitely lost or garbled).

The name of the tool is Zero Assumption Digital Image Recovery (ZAR).

Generally the software is not free of charge, but the digital image recovery function of ZAR is available at no charge. And this function is the one we need 🙂

You can download the software here: Download Zero Assumption Digital Image Recovery (ZAR)

After installation, open ZAR and select Image Recovery (Free):


In the next step select the broken SD Card Drive:


Now the software starts to analyse your SD card. Depending on the size this step can take some time/hours…


But it is worth to wait – because now you are only one step away to (hopefully) restore your data.

In the next window you can select the pictures/files ZAR found on your SD Card. Select all files you want to restore:


Now enter a path to restore and select “start copying the selected files”:


If you are lucky, most or all of your files are restored/reconstructed:



  1. Chali

    My brother’s 16 GB SD card became unreadable,but not physicaly damaged. So plc, help me by sending solution for that I have no money to buy another….
    Thank you
    Chali g

  2. Muralidhar

    I have recently taken a Samsung 32 GB microSD card class 10 – however when i am trying to use it, it shows an error as “windows photo viewer can’t open this picture because the file apprears to be damaged, corrupted, or is too large” when ever i try to open the files. Please suggest can i fix the SD card or its worth scrap now.


    I recovered delete files but display the message “cannot open this picture because the file appear to be damaged corrupted or is too large.

  4. Arch

    In response to previous message:
    In case you get corruption AFTER you have recovered photos you have 2 options:

    1. Try different recovery software

    There is more advanced software available, like JPEG Recovery LAB that will try to reconstruct corrupt or fragmented images on the fly.

    2. See if you can repair recovered images

    There is software for that. There are also people who can repair corrupt images as a service.

  5. Ned

    I tried this software. May I know what ” nothing interesting” means in the volume map? because it’s almost like that while it’s still processing.

  6. Ned

    It says, “Windows photo viewer can’t open this picture because either photo Viewer doesn’t support this file format or you don’t have the latest updates to photo viewer” What should I do?

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