SD Card

How to Recover Data from a Compact Flash Card on Windows

7 min read

Reading Time: 7 minutesCompact Flash cards may have been overtaken by SD cards in terms of popularity, but many people still rely on CF cards to store important files. Because of that, CF card data recovery is still a common concern.

Whether you own a CF card that’s now corrupted or you accidentally deleted important photos from it, worry not. Your data is likely still recoverable. In this article, we listed three Compact Flash data recovery solutions alongside three methods you can use to fix a corrupted CF card.

Let’s begin!

How to Recover Data from a CF Card

There are three ways to perform CF card recovery: (1) using a data recovery software, (2) using Windows’ file recovery tool, and (3) through CF card data recovery services.

Recovering CF card data shouldn’t be too hard, especially if you do it as soon as possible. This means you should stop using the memory card at the first sign of trouble. Also, we strongly caution against attempting to fix your CF card before performing any of the following file recovery measures.

Method 1: Use Data Recovery Software Like Disk Drill.

Disk Drill is one of the best CF card recovery software available on the market. It’s fast, effective, and reliable. The best thing is, there’s a free version that you can use to recover up to 500MB of data. You can then upgrade to PRO as needed. It works excellently with all brands, so you can use it for Toshiba, Samsung, and SanDisk CF card recovery, among others.

Follow these steps to recover CF card data using Disk Drill:

  1. Download Disk Drill for Windows here. Launch the executable file and install the page for disk drill for windows
  2. Make sure the CF card is connected to your computer.
  3. Open Disk Drill once the installation process is finished. You will immediately see all the available disks and devices on Disk Drill’s Data Recovery panel. Select the Compact Flash card, then click Search for lost data.
  4. Wait for the scan to finish. Then click Review found items. You will see a list of recoverable files alongside information on their respective recovery chances, file type, and size.disk drill scanning items to recover
  5. Select all the files you want to recover. Click Recover.selection of cf card files to recover
  6. Assign a new destination for the recovered files. Click OK and then wait for the Compact Flash card data recovery process to finish.disk drill new destination folder

After Disk Drill completes the data recovery process, you will be given an option to immediately show the recovered files in File Explorer.

Method 2: Use Windows File Recovery.

You can also try to use Windows File Recovery to recover CF card data. It is a relatively new command-line utility available from the Microsoft Store. It’s not as beginner-friendly as the previous method since you will be interacting with the command line, so make sure to follow the steps below carefully.

Note: You need to have Windows 10 build 19041 or later for this app to work. You can check your computer’s Windows version here.

Here’s how to use Windows File Recovery for Compact Flash card recovery:

  1. Click this link to download and install Windows File Recovery. Launch the app after the installation is file recovery download page
  2. Select Yes when you are asked to allow the app to make changes to your computer.
  3. Type the following command in the Command Prompt Window:
    winfr source-drive: destination-drive: /extensive [/switches]

    Note: Replace source-drive with the drive letter assigned to your CF card, and replace destination-drive with the drive letter where you want to save the recovered files. Modify [/switches] to pinpoint which specific file types and folders you want to recover. You can view the complete documentation of the winfr command here.

    For example, let’s say you want to recover all photos (JPEG and PNG) from your CF card. If the card is assigned to drive E and you want to save the recovered files on your local disk C, you should use the following command:

    winfr E: C: /extensive /n *.JPEG n/ *.PNG

    winfr file recovery command

  4. Press the Y key any time you get a Continue? (y/n) message from Windows. Alternatively, you may press Ctrl + C to cancel the entire operation.
  5. You will get a prompt to view the recovered files after the recovery process is complete. Press Y to open the folder containing the recovered files.recovered files from winfr

Tip: You can also locate the recovered files by looking for a folder named Recovery_<date>_<time> within the chosen destination drive.

Method 3: Avail of Data Recovery Services.

Lastly, you can seek professionals to perform corrupted CF card data recovery for you. This solution is perfect if:

  • You’ve tried other methods without success.
  • You don’t have the time to do Compact Flash data recovery yourself.
  • You don’t feel comfortable using CF card recovery software and other tools.

Look for a data recovery service with a proven track record. For example, the CleverFiles Data Recovery Lab boasts a 98% success rate. Also, they will charge you only if your data is successfully retrieved.

How to Fix a Corrupted CF Card

Method 1: Insert the CF Card into Another Device.

If the CF card isn’t being recognized by your device, there’s a chance it might be an issue with the latter. To rule this out, check if the CF card functions correctly on another device. Try inserting it into a different camera, or if you’re experiencing the error when the CF card is connected to your computer, use a different card reader.

Once you’re certain that the problem lies with the CF card itself and your computer is able to recognize the memory card, you can proceed to the next two methods.

Method 2: Use the CHKDSK Command to Find and Fix Errors.

  1. Type CMD on the search box on the Windows Start Menu.
  2. Select Run as administrator beneath the Command Prompt icon, as shown below.searchiing windows command prompt
  3. Make sure the CF card is connected to your computer.
  4. Type the following command:
    chkdsk E: /f

    Replace E with the drive letter assigned to the CF card on your computer.command prompt chkdsk utility

  5. Press Enter and wait for the command to finish running. The chkdsk utility will scan your drive for errors and fix the errors it finds.

Your card should work correctly after the CHKDSK process is complete. If this does not fix the issue, move on to the next method.

Method 3: Format the CF Card.

Formatting might seem like a severe approach to many, but it’s a powerful way to fix faulty storage devices. Formatting a CF card is sort of like spring cleaning–it clears previously existing data and replaces a damaged file system with a new one.

Now, we strongly suggest that you make full use of the best CF card recovery software you can find before attempting to format your storage device. Doing so will give you the best chances of recovering all of your important photos, videos, and documents and minimize the risk of permanent data loss.

This is how you can format your memory card after CF card data recovery:

  1. Open File Explorer. You can do this by searching File Explorer on the Start menu or by clicking the folder icon on the Windows taskbar.Open File Explorer
  2. Navigate to This PC.
  3. Look in the Devices and drives section and right-click on the Compact Flash card.
  4. Select Format.Select Format
  5. Edit the Volume label field as needed and check Quick Format.
  6. Click Start. Wait until the formatting process is complete.start formatting

The Bottom Line

It’s easy to assume the worst when one of your memory devices malfunctions. But with the help of trusted CF card recovery tools, chances are high that you’ll be able to retrieve your important files. Always remember: perform data recovery at the first sign of data loss for best results!