How can I recover .avi files that were overwritten on an SD card?

By herbalhealer ·
I recently set up a home security CCTV system in my home, as whenever I go away, the local children tend to do damage here. I was away all of last week and I got a call to tell me that the fron of my house was destroyed. I was looking forward to finally catch them in the act, as the house was under surveillance. However, the SD card onto which all the data (avi files) are saved, filled up and contrary to normal removable data card use, when the card was full, it didn't just stop recording (which I'd expected it to), it went back on the card and began recording over the existing files. As a result, all images from the days the damage was done, is gone. Needless to say, I desperately need to recover these files and need help as soon as I possible. Help!!!

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First question is

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to How can I recover .avi fi ...

Is it worth he money spent to recover this data? That means do you really think that you can get the damages back from those responsible for doing the damage?

As far as Data Recovery goes Yes it's possible but it's not cheap. You can not do it at home and this requires special machinery to perform and costs the earth to do correctly.

You should have setup the surveillance better so that you didn't have this problem as by the sounds of things it's just been set to an endless loop to restart after it finished filling the available memory card. Any AVI files that you wish to keep should be written to something much bigger than a simple Memory card and better still some form of Tape should be used. But even then tapes need to be changed on a daily basis so a weekly time away is unlikely to pick up the problem children unless you have some form of Auto Loader installed as well.

But back to recovering AVI files off Memory Cards this may prove difficult as most likely you don't have several different AVI files but just the one that has continually overwritten the stick till it was stopped so that will make things harder.

There is always Win Hex from X Ways which you can use if you know Hex inside out. It's available to purchase here

Also On Track may be able to recover the data but it will take quite a lot of time and if there is only the one AVI file involved them most likely they will not prove successful but you can give them a try here

They may even have some other suggestions for you depending on how the recording was actually done.


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REALLY worth it to me!....

by herbalhealer In reply to First question is

`Hi Hal, and thanks for your help! First question?- yes it is worth it to me, but not to recover damages but to just catch them at it, as it appears I live in a cul-de-sac full of blind people. It's on-going too long and I need it to stop before I lose my mind, so yes, to me it's worth it, although I have only a small budget.
Secondly, each AVI file is recorded and saved individually and the card was clear at the time the first lot of images were saved. I could use the VCR, but unlike the CCTV system, it won't record automatically, when activated and therefore, it is no good to me. In future, I will have my friend upload the data to my desktop daily and then reinsert the card, but for now, I'm desperately seeking justice.
You mention that it is very costly, could you give me a ball-park figure maybe? I will try your links, but just wanted to thank you for taking the time first. Thank you.

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OK but you might not like the costs involved

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to REALLY worth it to me!... ...

I had an overwritten Hassbald H2 Memory Card that I just had to get the old data off. Price wasn't an issue here so I took it to On Track as they are handy and I do a lot of work with them for my customers. They managed to recover the Pictures and they didn't even loose much clarity but it took them over a week to do it. But as I wasn't paying for it and they wanted to test out their new play toy and I'm well known there they did it as a Love Job. Perhaps it's all of those HDD's without platters that I give them or something that helped swing the deal or maybe they just did me a favour.

They only had to recover 1 layer of data and I was told that was good for about 9K AU to do if it was a paid for job more if they had to dig deeper and that was only with JPG files.

I wouldn't bother with the Win Hex from X Ways as they are a German Company who are most likely not overly close to you and On Track is an US company with many branches who will be far easier to get to for you. But bearing in mind the costs of doing this type of work I would ask for a Guesstimate first or even ask if they think it's actually worth doing in the first place. Memory Sticks are actually harder to recover Data From as unlike a HDD they do not alter quite as much the Binary Storage way of doing things but even still the last time that I saw a HDD recovered Layer by Layer was well in excess of 65K AU but honestly that was for a criminal prostitution involving several hundred pounds of drugs. Of course they trashed the drive in the process as they had to work straight off the platters.

Your best bet is if you can get some storage media that will hold 36 Hours worth and get someone to change them every 24 hours or so and do not overwrite the data as you will be destroying the Chain of Evidence so even though you have the pictures or movie clips on your computer as they are not Original they will not be accepted by any court or Police as evidence. At least the Memory Sticks are coming down in price but even still you'll be up for quite a lot of money in just having 1 weeks worth of these and you'll need to keep in mind that if this type of thing happens again the Police will want the Original and most likely every other one that has been recorded on so you'll need spares. The reason that I suggested some tape was that Auto Loaders are fairly common and with a DAT Tape it would most likely work out cheaper if something like this could be hooked into the system and then run off a computer to manage the changing of the tapes.

But either way you are looking at Bulk Amounts of Money to catch these little Bar-stewards who will most likely get off with nothing more than a Slap On The Wrist. And then because they have been upset by being caught are likely to come and hunt you down next time.

I had a mate here robbed by a bunch of 12 to 14 year olds and they nearly killed him but as he latter said the breaking of his leg in 5 places was nothing but when they held a 12 gauge to his Manhood and demanded that he open the safe rather than actually kill him he got really scared. They caught those kids about 2 days latter but because of their age they where never punished for everything that they had done. They couldn't even be interviewed without a Social Worker being present to make sure that their rights where not being trampled on things like asking where they got the shotgun from. They denied being there even though the Police had DNA and other evidence that put them there without a shadow of a doubt. The Children's Court that tried them just told them that they where naughty little boys and not to do it again then handed out 60 hours community service. This actually happened before he went in for his second operation of 25 to get his broken leg part way right.

Between the time that the Police left the place after the robbery and the repairers could get in to secure the place it had been ransacked and everything inside the place destroyed. Needless to say he never returned there and sold off the shop for some strange reason.

Children are nasty little creatures and you can not touch them or you'll be nearly killed as a Child Abuser and they can do as they please until they turn a certain age at which time they recruit others to do their dirty work.


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Starting to get the picture... Excuse the pun!

by herbalhealer In reply to OK but you might not like ...

Hi again Hal, and thanx for the very vivid picture you have painted of what appears to be our 'Uniersal justice system'! I thought the likes of it only happened here in Ireland...
Needless to say, I don't have nor intend to pay those astronomic costs for redemption, but as a last effort, I will ask the Gards (Irish police) dealing with my situation, if they would let their phorensics look at it, but I'll hold no more hopes for now anyway. I've bought another SD so the other is sitting redundant for now. I'll keep looking for a cheaper alternative, and in the meantime, I'll just have to wait for the little bar-stewards to strike again, as they inevitably will - and make sure the system is in order and recording next time! Thanks for your help, you're a mine of info.

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You look like you have an expensive problem.

by Kiltie In reply to How can I recover .avi fi ...

There are places to help with data recovery but they cost an arm and a Leg, like Col says, it depends how valuable it is, will retrieving the files justify the expense.

That is, if they were overwritten, if not there may be another recovery option.

The free version of Zero Assumption Recovery doesn't cover AVI file types, but does cover some common ones. If your system is configurable to record in the .MOV format, for example, this may help in the future.

However it may be worth checking them out:

The pay-for version has a trial period, but I have never used it, nor do I know if it supports AVI files, or will help in what you want to do. I have successfully used it to retrieve many photos that I thought were lost forever on an SD card I had.

Having said that, it might be still worth downloading a trial and checking it out (I presume you have a SD card reader for the PC), it should be worth this small effort before committing yourself to the expensive Data Recovery houses.

Even then, they may not be able to do anything, I agree with Cols analysis here, you may not have anything to recover at all, and thus be wasting a lot of money.

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