My hard drive stopped working so then I used recovery software to retrieve files. I tried to view these but the format had change to "Sony Digital Camera Image".

The files are no longer a Jpeg or raw or anything usable to load onto any program.

Do you know how I can open these recovered images?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What are the file extensions now? Are they .ARW files? What was the disk formatted as? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Jan 14, 2021 at 5:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What were the file extensions before? What are they after "recovery". \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 14, 2021 at 11:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that Windows has that horribly confusing default whereby it hides extensions for known file types. You may need to switch that off before you can correctly answer these comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 14, 2021 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetsujin this is my single biggest gripe with Windows! Who thought this was a good idea?? (Close second is when Windows Update restarts my computer without warning...though Microsoft have eased their stance on that one - at least now you can postpone for a few days.) \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Jan 14, 2021 at 13:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @osullic Malware developers... Try changing your internet connection so that it is metered. That should stop auto updates. You have to manually check for updates though. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Jan 14, 2021 at 14:03

3 Answers 3


A lot of times recovery applications will find raw files and misidentify them as more standard .tiff files. Often all one needs to do is change the file extensions from .tiff back to the original extension for whatever raw format they were saved using.

For example, I once accidentally deleted an entire directory but caught it immediately before anything had been over written. The raw files were from Canon cameras that output raw .cr2 files. The recovery utility had misidentified the files as .tiff files. All I had to do was use a bulk renaming application to change the extensions from .tiff to .cr2 and they were as good as new.


My 'educated' guess would be you deleted and recovered them from an SSD, because I see this a lot. If I am correct the issue has nothing to do with the file being RAW photos or JPEGs but with SSD and TRIM.

A modern OS sends a TRIM command to the drive when data is deleted. Contrary to popular belief, TRIM does not 'erase' data. A TRIM command in essence is a hint for the drive, that LBA sectors the OS passes to the drive are no longer of interest to the OS and the SSD can do with them as it pleases. Most modern SSD drives immediately remove these sectors from LBA space, and upon any request to read those sectors (for example by file recovery software) it returns sectors of zeros without even reading those sectors.

What can not be trimmed though is the meta data the file system has on the files! This is why file recovery and undelete type tools often still detect the files (names, size etc. all appear correct), adn as long as clusters allocated to the deleted file were not re-used it will even tell recoverability of the file is good. Once you recover the files, clusters are converted to LBA addresses and now the SSD comes into play, as it is those LBA sectors that were 'trimmed', and it will simply return zeros.

It is easy to check if this is the issue by opening a few of the recovered files using a hex editor like HxD. If you find the files willed with zeros, likely the associated sectors were 'trimmed'. No consumer type software tool can recover them.

HOWEVER: If files are vital, irreplaceable, etc., disconnect the drive from power immediately (the sooner the better)!! As long as drive receives power it can run background maintenance and garbage collection which means the sectors are truly erased at some point. As long as they weren't truly erased, using special equipment, a data recovery lab can possibly still reach those non LBA addressable sectors. This is btw also true for cameras that erase cards when you format the card in camera (Sony cameras for example) using the SD Card equivalent of the TRIM command.


Not much of an answer, but note that recovery software doesn't change the format of anything. It just scans the entire disk for what look like files, and restores them to the file allocation table if they aren't there already. It may however apply the wrong filename to the restored file, and more problematically, it might apply the wrong file extension to the filename.

Your operating system uses the file extension to tell you what kind of file you are dealing with. Whatever extension these recovered files have now, your OS thinks they are "Sony Digital Camera Image". But you could equally change the file extension to .txt and your OS would instantly tell you that they are "Text Files". Changing the file extension does no format conversion.

So, you just need to find out what file extension the files should have, and restore it manually. (Hint... Open one of the files in a text editor. It will display as gobbledygook. But just look at the first line or two... you will often get a nice hint here as to what the actual format of the file is.)

One more thing... I don't know about RAW files, but I've noticed that, helpfully, IrfanView will warn you when it opens an image file that has the wrong extension, and offer to change it for you.


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