How to Recover Data From Formatted CF Card?

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CF cards are commonly used by professionals who rely on the data stored within them. We assume that you are among those users attempting to recover files from a formatted CF card. Relax now.

This article provides ways to restore files from formatted Compact Flash cards, along with the reasons behind the factors that led you to format the CF card on Windows and Mac.

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Since CF card can store high-resolution photos, raw images, and videos, it is used in many professional-grade DSLRs or cameras like Nikon D3X, Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Nikon D4, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D5, Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, Olympus E-5/E3, Pentax K-1 Mark II, Hasselblad H6D-100c, Leica S3, etc.

Even though a CF card comes with many value-added features compared to the SD card, there is no exception to data loss.

You might lose your precious photos and videos from your CF card in various instances. One such scenario is FORMATTING.

Can I Retrieve Files From a Formatted Cf Card?

Yes. You can recover your high-resolution photos and videos from a formatted CF card. Thanks to the progress technology has made.

There’s a solution to almost every problem. Formatted CF card recovery is no exception. However, make sure to avoid using your CF card. This might cause data overwriting and make the recovery process difficult.

How to Recover Formatted CF Card?

Losing files can be a cause of great worry. Fortunately, we have time-tested solutions to perform formatted CF card recovery.

Method 1: Restore Formatted CF Card Files From Backup Files

If you have taken a backup or set up an auto backup for your CF card before formatting it, then the CF card files are just a copy-paste away simply transfer the files from the backup to the CF card.

If you have been using any backup software to back up the CF card, use the respective tool to recover the lost files from the CF card.

Method 2: Recover Files from Formatted CF card using Remo Recover

Remo Recover makes CF card data recovery very easy in situations where you don’t have any backup of the CF card files.

The tool is efficient, easy to use, and free to download and try on both Windows and Mac.

Step 1: Launch Remo Recover software on your Windows or Mac and connect the formatted CF card to the system.

launch Remo recover and select the formatted cf card

Step 2: Select the formatted CF card from the main screen and click the Scan button to start scanning.  

Scan formatted CF card

Note: During the scanning process, you can click on the Dynamic Recovery View option to locate photos and videos that are getting recovered by the software.

Step 3: Once the process is completed, this formatted CF card recovery tool will display all the recovered files, photos, raw images, and media files under the Lost Partition folder.

Restored formatted CF card files and photos

Note: You can preview the recovered formatted photos or videos for free. Also, you can use the Tag folder to identify your lost files using multiple identifiers like Author name, Camera model (used to capture photos or videos), etc.

preview data from formatted CF card

Step 4: If you are satisfied with the formatted CF card recovery result, select the lost photos or files and click the Recover button to save the formatted CF card data on any destination folder of your choice.

Save recovered data from formatted CF card

BEWARE: When saving the recovered CF card files it is advised to save the data in a different location from the previous one in the CF card.

We suggest you save the files in the computer’s internal memory or an external hard drive and then copy the files to the CF card.

Generally, formatting the CF card is a healthy practice, but not at the cost of your data. If you playback on what led you to format your CF card, was it your choice, or were you forced? The upcoming section will discuss these in detail.

Various Reasons for Formatting a CF Card

We will categorize formatting the CF card into two scenarios: Recommended and Forced.


  • Preparing for a new use: It is highly recommended to format the CF card in the device that you are going to use to create compatibility and proper functioning.
  • Performance optimization: When you format the CF card defragments the data which helps in faster reading and writing data.
  • Remove Viruses and Malware: If the CF card is damaged or unusable due to viruses and malware, formatting is the only way to erase it and make the card reusable again.
  • Privacy: When you are selling or giving your CF card to an unknown person, you need to perform a full format on the CF card to protect your privacy.


  • Corruption: If the CF card is corrupt or unable to read or write data in it, then you need to format your CF card and recover data using a data recovery tool.
  • Format the disk before using it: When the CF card is not recognized by the device, appearing as RAW, it prompts “You need to format the disk before you can use it.” If you agree to format, all your CF card data will be lost.
  • Blank CF card: When the CF card appears blank due to incorrect ejection or an unsupported file system, formatting is the best way to restore the CF card to a normal state.

Tips to Avoid CF Card Formatting

Now that you are aware of different scenarios where a CF card might be forced to format, consider taking precautionary measures to avoid potential disasters:

  • Take a backup or set up an auto-backup of the CF card data in external drives or cloud storage.
  • Avoid removing the CF card when it's in use.
  • Use the CF card in ideal environmental conditions to protect it from physical damage.
  • Regularly scan CF cards using updated antivirus software.
  • Double-check before deleting files from the CF card.


Formatted CF card recovery is a bit tricky but never impossible. Given the time and money you've invested in your CF card data, ensure that both the CF card and its data are safe and well-preserved alongside a backup.

In the event of accidental data loss without any backup, you can rely on a trustworthy data recovery tool, such as Remo Recover data recovery software, to recover files from the formatted CF card.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I recover data from a formatted CF card?

Yes, you can recover data from a formatted CF card unless the data has been overwritten. Therefore, it is recommended to stop using the card immediately and utilize reliable data recovery software like Remo Recover.

Why is my CF card not reading?

There can be various reasons behind CF cards not being read by the device:
1. Compatibility issues.
2. Faulty card reader.
3. Incompatible or outdated drivers.
4. Corrupted file system.

About the Author: John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines. John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms.…