Repairing and formatting an SD card: how to do it?

SD card

The SD card is the most common type of memory card used today in cameras, phones and camcorders as a medium for storing data. It therefore acts as a means to expand the internal memory of a device. However, no SD card lasts forever without proper maintenance. We will advise you on how to repair and format an SD card.

Repair SD card

Memory cards are among the least delicate parts of cameras, camcorders or mobile phones. However, despite a design that eliminates the risk of damage, it is important to maintain SD cards (and other types) to ensure they last longer.

An SD card may exhibit the following errors:

  • cannot be read,
  • has less capacity than it had to begin with,
  • is slower than when purchased,
  • does not show any files,
  • refuses to access files.

Repair SD card without computer

Repairing an SD card usually requires a connection to a computer. Before you connect it, however, make sure it is not locked by accident. It may not necessarily be damaged right away, but simply read locked. To lock the SD card, use the beak on the left side, which is pulled down in case of a lock.

repair sd card

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If the beak is at the bottom of the gutter, don’t pull it up and try reloading the SD card. It often happens that the card inadvertently locks up, for example due to contact with other accessories in the bag.

The second step you should take before inserting the card into the computer is to clean the metal connections. This is because a situation where the SD card cannot be read can also be caused by clogging or dust build-up. To clean the card, ideally use a cloth soaked in alcohol.

If this step does not help, you have two options – format the card or try to repair it via computer.

Repair SD card via Windows PC

To repair an SD card on your computer, you will need to connect it to it. Some computers, and especially laptops, have an integrated memory card reader. In this case, all you have to do is insert the SD card into the appropriate slot and wait for the computer to read it.

If you do not have a built-in memory card reader in your computer, you will need to use an external reader. In this case, too, you insert the SD card into the appropriate slot and plug the reader into the USB port on your computer. The computer should load it after a while.

Once you have the SD card connected to the computer, you can start the repair:

  • Open the “Windows Explorer“.

how to repair SD card

Source: custom

  • Go to “This computer“.
  • Right-click on the memory card and click properties.

Source: custom

  • A dialog box will pop up. In the dialog box click on the “Tools” tab.

Repair SD card

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  • Select check.

The system will check the SD card and correct any preliminary errors found.

Another option to fix the SD card, in computer, is to use the command line. You can start the command prompt by clicking the Start button in the top left corner of the screen (the window icon). In the search type the shortcut “cmd”. The “Command Prompt” entry should pop up. Right-click on it and select “Run as administrator.”

A black window should appear. Type command “ckdsk” into it, and add the tab designation – the letter that appears next to it in “This computer” and “/f”. In the illustration, it is the letter “E”, so the command is: ckdsk E: /f. The check is then run, and with it any repair.

how to fix SD card on computer

Source: custom

How to format an SD card?

The last option to fix your SD card is formatting. Formatting, however, deletes all the data that is on the card. Therefore, you should back it up before doing so – if possible. If this is not possible, the only option left is to format and then attempt to restore the data.

Beware though, formatting the card is not the same as deleting all the files on the card. If you only remove all visible files, the metadata and other files used by the system or device remain.

Memory card formatting is then not only enabled by the computer, but also by cameras, camcorders, phones and other electronics that use them. The unwritten rule is that it is always best to format the card on the device you will be using it on.

Formatting an SD card in a phone

If you use the SD card within your mobile phone or tablet, you can format it directly on the device without removing it:

  1. Go to settings.
  2. Find the storage settings item.
  3. Select format.
  4. Select erase and format.

And you’re done. The procedure on how to format an SD card may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model. In most cases, the described sequence is followed – however, it may happen that the items in the menu are named slightly differently.

How to format an SD card for a camera or camcorder

You can format an SD card in a camera or camcorder in a similarly simple way. Go to the menu, find the settings item and select format or format card.

Just watch out for the “delete all items on the card” item. As mentioned above, deleting all files is not the same as formatting a memory card.

How to format a memory card on a Windows


The last way you can format an SD card is by using your computer. In theyou need to connect it to the in some way – described in more detail above.

Once you have the card connected, go to “This computer:

  • Right-click on the SD card and select “Format

how to format SD card

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  • A window will pop up with several items. Select the file system (see below) and leave the rest as is.
  • Click the “Run” button.

how to format SD card

Source: custom

The formatting process will then start and when it is finished, a success/failure window will pop up. The file system mentioned depends on which device you will be using the card in. Most often you just keep the already set FAT32, which works on both Windows and macOS. NTFS is for Windows only, and exFat again supports both Windows and macOS, but can accommodate files larger than 4GB.

What to do if the SD card won’t format?

Sometimes it happens that your phone, tablet, camera or camcorder reports an error saying that the SD card cannot be formatted. If this situation occurs, then remove the SD card and try applying the above procedure to format the SD card on your computer.

SD card and deleted data

Perhaps the worst thing that can happen in the context of memory cards, flash drives and other storage devices is lost data. If you find that your SD card doesn’t contain the photos or videos you took, you can try to recover them with specialized software.

One such program that allows you to recover deleted data from an SD card is Recuva. You download the program , install it, select the type of files you want to recover, and then start the process by clicking the “Start” button.

You can then use the same procedure even if you were forced to format your SD card before you could back up your data. The success rate of recovering data from memory cards is poor in many cases, but it will allow you to save at least some of the data you have inserted.

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