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I need software (free or paid) to undelete (recover) lots of ~4 MiB JPEG files from a heavily fragmented FAT32 filesystem. I need the full JPEG files, not only the first cluster (4 KiB). The JPEG files were not contiguous on disk, they were heavily fragmented (up to thousand fragments per file). The filesystem is indeed FAT32. The device is healthy, there are no I/O errors. Some of the files alhave been partially overwritten since the deletion, I don't need those.

I need software which knows the JPEG file format very well, and it can autodetect, sort out and glue together JPEG files from thousands of fragments (in unspecified order). I'm only interested in recommendations for which the recommender knows for sure about this feature (autodetecting and gluing together JPEG file fragments).

I need software which works out of the box, and which I (as a motivated power user) can download and run. I have Windows and Linux, I'm sufficiently familiar with both.

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Klennet Carver is created with this situation in mind.

https://www.klennet.com/carver/default.aspx

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However it is also written with memory card like sizes in mind as piecing back together fragmented files without relying on file system meta data is a resource intensive task. It can take days to complete and shouldn't be run on systems that don't exceed the minimum requirements, unless you like to be frustrated.

If possible rely on file system based recovery tools. If for example the file allocation table is largely intact, non contiguous files should pose no problems for any decent file system based recovery tool. IOW, only IF files are non contiguous AND file system meta data is non existent/unreliable would require a tool like Klennet Carver.

Then there's also situations where someone may be led to believe files are fragmented while in fact they are not. For example, this:

enter image description here

Could be explained by fragmented files, it 'fits the picture', however in this case the supposed fragmentation is actually caused by file allocation table corruption, and as soon as we ignore the FAT, files tend to be intact and contiguous in fact. And thus can be easily recovered by a tool like DMDE which we can instruct to simply ignore the FAT or a JPEG carver such as JpegDigger (disclosure: I am author of this tool). Or, the resource hungry Klennet tool would be overkill in this scenario.

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    Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for. I wasn't able to find anything similar in Google search. Most file recovery programs are useless for this.
    – pts
    May 17, 2023 at 19:48
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Did you gave recuva a try?

Disclaimer: I see that you have a specific requirement that the program needs to know the JPEG file format witch I think is not the case. But I made very good experiences with it (also with JPEGs) and I think jpeg is handelt just as a normal file with normal delimiters. As i can't make comments and you didn't get an answered jet I thought to at least mention it.

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    The recuva FAQ explicitly mentions that recuva is unable to recover fragmented files from a FAT filesystem. Thus recuva is useless for this question.
    – pts
    Apr 6, 2023 at 19:45

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