Photo Recovery

How to Recover Overwritten Photos

Table of Content

    Summary: Are you looking for ways to recover deleted or lost photos from overwritten storage drives? Recovery of overwritten image files is difficult and depends upon the specific case. Know here the right solutions that may help to restore overwritten image files from hard drive, SD card, USB, and other media.

    Robert is a wildlife photographer. He usually transfers his DSLR photographs to computer and reuses the memory card. Recently, after saving new files on one of his memory cards, he realised that he had accidentally deleted the photos from the card and added new files without transferring them. Robert was in a stressful situation, as he doesn’t have the backup of his photos and now his photos are overwritten.

    If you’re also facing such a situation, then you’ve landed on the right page. In this post, you will know the solutions to recover overwritten photos on hard drive, SD card, and other media. However, there’s no guarantee that you will recover overwritten files. But it is worth trying the recovery solutions, if your photos are precious. You may receive some, if not all of your photos.

    First, let’s understand what overwritten files mean and is it possible to recover pictures after they’re overwritten.

    Recover Overwritten Photos

    What does overwritten file mean?

    As the term implies, ‘overwritten’ means writing or adding new data over old data. After deleting the photos, if you continue to use the drive and add new files over it, it may overwrite the deleted images and other files on the drive.

    Can you recover overwritten image files?

    There is no definite answer to the question. The photo recovery from overwritten drives completely depends on case-to-case basis. Sometimes, when you add new data on your drive, it is not necessary that the old/deleted files are completely replaced with the new ones. The OS may store the data in the free sectors/blocks on your hard drive. This usually happens when your drive is not full and has free space. In such a case, an advanced photo recovery software can help to retrieve the files.

    How to recover overwritten image files?

    If you have photos backup in Google Photos, Dropbox, One Drive, iCloud, etc., you can simply find and recover the lost photos from your cloud storage. If not, then follow the other backup solutions mentioned below to recover overwritten photos.

    Further, as storage devices may retain traces of data once overwritten, you should try a photo recovery software. It can facilitate best possible recovery from an overwritten hard drive, USB, SD card, pen drive and others. However, they will only work in case you have not erased the drive permanently using any drive eraser tool.

    Solution 1: Recover photos using Windows backup

    If the photos were deleted or lost from internal hard drive of Windows system, you can use Windows ‘Backup and Restore’ feature to restore them. If you have created a backup using this feature, it is easy to restore overwritten, deleted, or modified photos.

    Connect the drive or removable media that contains backup of your PC and follow the below steps to recover overwritten photos by using the backup feature on Windows:

    • Open Control Panel.
    • Navigate to Backup and Restore (Windows 7).
    Restore files windows backup feature
    • Under Restore, click on Restore my files. Follow the prompts to recover the deleted/ overwritten files.
    • Click on the ‘Browse for Folders’ option.
    Browse for folders in Windows backup restore
    • Now select the required folders from the backup and click on Next. Windows will begin restoring your files and folders from the backup.

    Note:If you are using macOS, check Time Machine backup for overwritten photos recovery on Mac.

    Solution 2: Recover overwritten photos via Windows ‘previous versions’

    If you’ve lost photos from the internal hard drive, you can try overwritten photos recovery from ‘Previous versions’. Windows ‘Previous versions’ include the shadow copies of your files/ folders that are automatically saved as part of restore point on your PC. You can use them to restore the deleted, overwritten, or formatted folders.

    Follow the below steps to restore photos from previous version on Windows:

    • Navigate to the folder where your photos were saved.
    • Right-click on the folder and select Properties.
    Previous Version
    • Click on the ‘Previous Versions’ tab. You will see a list of previous versions with dates from File History or restore points.
    • Select the version of the overwritten folder that contained your photos.
    Click Restore
    • Click Restore. You can also drag and drop the folder at any destination on your PC.

    Solution 4: Use a photo recovery software

    In absence of backup, only an advanced photo recovery software, such as Stellar Photo Recovery can help you recover overwritten files from hard drive, USB, SD card, etc. However, the software doesn’t guarantee complete recovery but its powerful scan engine comprehensively searches and restores every possible bit of data from the overwritten drive.

    You can preview the found photos after scan before finally saving them. The software can retrieve all types of image files, including JPEG/JPG, Adobe EPS, RAW, PNG, DNG, and HEIC, etc. Stellar Photo Recovery also supports photos, videos, and audio files recovery in cases of formatting, drive corruption, or accidental deletion. The software can restore overwritten photos on Mac also.

    You can download the free trial version of the software to check if it can recover lost photos due to overwriting.

    Download for Windows Download for Mac

    Wrapping Up

    Back up your photos. It is the best way to be prepared for any catastrophic photo loss situation, like overwritten files. Nonetheless, in an unfortunate event of loss of valuable photos, do try Stellar Photo Recovery software. It ensures optimum recovery from overwritten drives. It is best to use the free trail to be assured of the effectiveness of the software in your overwritten files recovery situation.


    Q1. How to recover photos I have overwritten on my computer?

    Use your backup folder to retrieve lost pictures or try Stellar Photo Recovery software that may help in overwritten files recovery on Windows or macOS drives.

    Q2. What to do if am not able to recover overwritten files as there are no ‘Previous versions’ on my PC?

    Try the advanced Stellar Photo Recovery software. It may recover photos, videos, or audio files lost due to overwritten data.

    Q3. How to recover overwritten files on USB?

    Connect your USB drive to PC or Mac and use a photo recovery software to recover lost photos.

    Q4. Is it possible to recover photos from overwritten SD card?

    Yes, it is possible but recovery depends upon specific data loss situation. As mentioned in this post, you can use a photo recovery software to restore photos from overwritten memory cards, SD cards, and other storage media.

    Q5. How to recover overwritten photos on Mac volume?

    Check your Time Machine or iCloud backup for the lost pictures. In case you don’t have a backup, try Stellar Photo Recovery Mac version.

    Q6. Can I recover overwritten data from an external hard drive?

    You may recover overwritten data on an external hard drive with the help of a data recovery software.

    Q7. What to do if a recovery software cannot restore my overwritten photos?

    In case an advanced recovery software is unable to restore the overwritten pictures and you don’t have backup as well, then the photos are lost forever. There’s no other way to get back overwritten pictures.

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    About The Author

    Nishat Paiker linkdin

    Nishat Paiker is an expert technical writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. She has deep knowledge about data recovery and loves to explore new technology and DIY tools. Nishat has keen interest in photography. You will often find her giving photography tips and hacks.


    1. When a file is being thoroughly overwritten 100% (for example a video) by a bigger file (the original file NOT the pointers of it) it is virtually impossible to be recovered am I right? However if a file is partially overwritten (for example 50%) it can be recovered the part of the file that was not overwritten,it will never be at its original state and it is not sure that it will be functional as it was before. And finally if a file is a little bit overwritten (fore example 10-20%) there is a big possibility to be recovered by advanced forensic tools almost at its original state and it will be almost functional as it was before am I right?

      1. Hi Takis,
        You are mostly correct, but there are some nuances to consider when it comes to file recovery and overwriting. The chances of recovering a partially overwritten file depend on a number of factors, including the type of file, the amount of data that was overwritten, and the method used to overwrite the file.

      1. Hi Sam,
        Overwritten files are difficult to recover because it has been physically altered. When you overwrite a file, the new data overwrites the old data on the storage device. This means that the old data is no longer available in its original form. To recover the overwritten files, use a photo recovery software.

    2. I want to keep the backup of my photos but I don’t have any external drive. What should I do?

      1. Hi Fatima,
        If you do not have an external drive in which you can back up your files, then you can put your precious photos into the cloud or on your computer. Or, you can also email the photos to yourself.

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