In this article you will learn how to repair corrupted GoPro video files, as well as how GoPro video files actually get corrupted, so that you can try to avoid losing your invaluable footage in the future (cause we all know – some things can’t be reproduced just to record yet another great shot).
For whom is this article?
Basically, for all proud owners of any version of a GoPro action camera, who got a damaged video file recorded with the camera and can’t play it in any media player. In particular, the article applies to the following GoPro camera models:
- GoPro HERO
- GoPro HERO+
- GoPro HERO 2
- GoPro HERO 3 (Black, Silver & White)
- GoPro HERO 3+ (Black & Silver)
- GoPro HERO Session
- GoPro HERO 4 (Black & Silver)
- GoPro HERO 5 (Black & Session)
- GoPro HERO 6 Black
- GoPro HERO 7 (Black, Silver & White)
Note: if you’ve accidentally deleted your GoPro video and want to recover it, then you can skip the next chapter and go straight to this one.
How to repair GoPro video files corrupted due to interrupted recording
The most common issue that may corrupt a GoPro video file is when the recording hasn’t been stopped properly. Here are just a few examples of how this may happen:
- You forgot to charge your GoPro’s battery and expected to record as much as possible till the battery dies. As a result, the battery ran low on power while you were still shooting the video.
- You’ve bought a low-quality SD card which couldn’t handle a high-volume data stream of a large resolution/bitrate video and the camera froze.
- Your GoPro camera suddenly locked up due to overheating or some other glitch.
- You crashed your GoPro camera while recording an extreme video.
- You forgot to stop the recording and took the SD card out of the camera.
- Some glitch happened when you were transferring video files from your GoPro camera to a computer.
So, what’s common with all these cases? The answer is – interrupted recording.
Just like many other cameras, GoPros save metadata about the video you shoot at the end of each individual video file. The metadata contains important details about the footage, such as video length, resolution, bitrate and codecs. The metadata is then used by media players to play the video.
When recording a video, GoPro cameras process, collect and update metadata in real time in their internal memory. When you stop shooting, the metadata is saved in the final video file along with video/audio streams. However, when the recording isn’t stopped properly, your GoPro camera may fail to save the metadata into the video file and the metadata is lost. As a result, you have a video file that contains actual video/audio streams, but can’t be played in any media player.
To repair such a corrupted GoPro video file, you just need to save the missing metadata into your video. Here are the options:
OPTION 1:Use GoPro’s in-built SOS function
Every GoPro camera comes with an in-built feature for repairing damaged video files, called “SOS function”. To activate this feature, just insert your SD card with the corrupted video file into your GoPro camera and power it up. The camera will scan the SD card and will try to identify video files that miss metadata.
Please note that the SOS function works only with video files recorded with this exact camera (or at least with the same GoPro camera model).
If the camera detects a damaged video file, it will display either a bicycle icon along with a plus sign on the small screen, or a bandage icon, or “REPAIRING FILE” notification in newer GoPro models.
If you see such an icon, you can repair corrupted GoPro video files by pressing any button on the camera. Please note that HERO Session and HERO 4 Session will start repairing files automatically just after you turn on the camera, no need to press buttons for these models.
While recovering the damaged video, the icon will blink repeatedly. Once the file is fixed, the camera’s screen will return to its regular state.
If the file hasn’t been recovered, or the camera hasn’t detected a corrupted video, then do the following:
For HERO 3, HERO 3+, HERO 4 (Black & Silver), HERO 5 Black and HERO 6 Black
- Turn off your camera and then remove both the battery and SD card from it.
- Insert the battery back and then power on the camera.
- Insert the SD card, wait for the recovery icon to appear and then press any button.
For HERO Session, HERO 4 Session and HERO 5 Session
- Turn off your camera.
- Remove the SD card from the camera.
- Insert the SD card back and let the camera repair the file (just wait until it scans the SD card and then repairs the file).
For HERO, HERO+ and HERO+ LCD
- Turn off your camera.
- Remove the SD card from the camera.
- Power on the camera and then insert the SD card. Wait for the recovery icon to appear and then press any button.
If, after following these instructions, the video is still corrupted, or if your GoPro camera hasn’t identified the damaged file, or if you’ve crushed your camera, then you can try to repair GoPro video with an online tool – Restore.Media. Read the “OPTION 2” section for more details:
OPTION 2:Repair corrupted GoPro video files with Restore.Media
Restore.Media can be used to repair GoPro video files shot on any camera model. This tool works by analyzing corrupted video files and then injecting the missing metadata into them.
To fix your damaged video with the tool, follow these steps:
1. Create a free account at Restore.Media. Please note that you will have to confirm your account email to be able to use the app.
2. Once you’re registered and logged in, click Get started.
3. Choose your GoPro model from the drop-down list. Then fill in the required form fields and click Next.
4. On this step you will be asked to upload a reference file. This can be any valid (not corrupted) mp4 video file shot with the same GoPro camera and settings as your corrupted video (e.g. resolution, frame-rate (FPS), etc.). For the reference file you can use any video you recorded with your camera prior to the damaged file. Or, you can shoot a new one. The video file size should be 100 MB or more.
5. Now, just follow app’s instructions. You will be asked to upload your corrupted mp4 file. Once the file is uploaded, Restore.Media will start repairing your GoPro video.
6. Upon finishing the recovery process, you will be able to review a few screenshots taken from the video file, as well as a full-time preview of the video in low resolution and bitrate.
The preview allows you to check if the video was actually recovered and whether there are any artifacts in it. If everything looks fine, you can proceed and download your fixed mp4 file in full resolution and original bitrate after paying a small fee.
If the video wasn’t repaired correctly, there is an option “Ask for manual recovery by an engineer”. Click on the button and follow the instructions. Restore.Media engineers will try to repair your GoPro video manually.
How to recover GoPro video files deleted from SD cards
Important! If you’ve accidentally deleted your GoPro video, or quick-formatted the microSD card with the video on it, you should immediately power off the camera and take the microSD card out of your GoPro. Then insert it into an SD adapter and lock with a switch, usually located on the left-hand side of the adapter. This will prevent your deleted video files from been overwritten with any other data. Failing to do so may completely or partially erase the video, so that you won’t be able to recover it.
Once you locked your SD card, you should also create a backup image of the entire card. The image should be a full sector-by-sector (RAW) copy of the SD card, with the .IMG extension, not .ISO.
MacOS users can create an SD image with the dd command in the command line tool. Please see this article for details.
Now that you have an image file, you can try recovering the deleted video from your SD card with an “undelete” tool, such as R-Studio or EasyRecovery. Alternatively, you can try a free tool – Recuva.
But the problem here is that the “undeleted” video may contain lots of artifacts and junk data. This is because when you shoot a video with a GoPro camera, it actually records two files simultaneously – one is a full resolution mp4 video file, and the other is a low resolution .lrv file needed for fast preview. When writing these files to the SD memory card, GoPro cameras split each file into small chunks and save them one by one the following way:
| high-res chunk 1 | low-res chunk 1 | high-res chunk 2 | low-res chunk 2 | …
As a result, both mp4 and lrv files are split into many small chunks and are scattered all over the memory card. Due to such fragmentation, “undelete” tools often fail recovering GoPro video files properly. You may end up with a video that contains high resolution frames followed by low resolution frames. You will see lots of artifacts when playing such a video in a media player. The audio stream will also be corrupted and contain duplicates.
So, how to deal with this issue?
Here, at Restore.Media, we’ve developed a recovery algorithm specifically optimized for corrupted GoPro video files. The algorithm filters out clusters that contain chunks of the low-resolution files from your main video. If, after “undeleting” a GoPro video you can’t play it, or the video contains artifacts and junk data, you may try repairing it with Restore.Media. Just register a free account and follow the instructions.
Important! Make sure to check the option “This file has been restored from the media after it has been deleted” when configuring your recovery settings.
Also, if you’ve run into any troubles when repairing your GoPro video, you can always ask for help and manual recovery of your files by one of the Restore.Media’s engineers. Just drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help!
I see a still image in my GoPro video. Can this be fixed?
There is a known issue with GoPro HERO 6 and HERO 7 models when the video freezes at some point and you can see only a still image instead of actual video, while the audio stream may continue to play well.
Unfortunately, this can’t be repaired, as the still image is all the camera has actually recorded. Most probably, the issue is caused by cold-weather condensation or moisture that may get inside GoPro when changing the battery/SD card.
The only recommendation here is that you should avoid replacing the battery/SD card while being close to the water or in the cold weather conditions. For this, make sure to fully-charge your GoPro’s battery and have enough free space on your SD card before you go out there to take a few great shots.
How do I prevent GoPro video files from been corrupted?
Keep in mind that although there are tools that can help you repair corrupted GoPro videos, sometimes damage is so severe that none of them will be able to provide you with a completely recovered file. Hence, it is always a good idea to try preventing your video from being corrupted due to accidents. Just follow these easy rules:
- Always charge your GoPro battery on time. Avoid shooting a video when the low battery warning appears. Bring a backup battery along during important video sessions.
- Use only GoPro certified memory cards. Not all memory cards have read/write speed capacity enough to handle high-volume GoPro video streams. For GoPro HERO 4 and earlier models we recommend using up to 32 GB SD cards. There have been reported cases when these models couldn’t handle SD cards of larger capacities properly, which resulted in lost video files.
- Quick-format your SD memory card within the GoPro camera before shooting important footage. This will prevent severe file fragmentation of your new videos. Just make sure you’ve saved all your video files stored on the SD card before formatting it.
- Do not eject your GoPro camera or the SD card from your computer while files are being transferred. Use the safe-eject option, or otherwise, your video may get corrupted.
We hope this article helped you repair your corrupted GoPro video files. However, if you have any questions or need help with recovering your videos, please feel free to contact us.