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Beginners' Guide: Format SD Card for Android with How-To Tutorials 2022

Updated by Tracy King on Sep 27, 2022

Key Takeaways of Formatting SD Card for Android:

A quick guide to format SD card for Android with the following listed tips.

  • Place the SD card into the SD card slot and insert it into your Android mobile.
  • Open Settings on your phone, and tap on "Device Care".
  • Select "Storage", tap on "Advanced", and select SD card under Portable storage.
  • Tap on "Format" and read the popup message, select "Format SD Card".

This page covers a complete and detailed tutorial to help Android and Windows beginners to learn how to format a new or used SD card for Android. By following this page, you'll also learn the best format for Android SD cards and what to do when you can't format the SD card due to some specific errors.

Format SD card android theme

Ready to go? Let's start here. 

What Happens When You Format an SD Card on Android?

Disk formatting is the process of preparing a data storage device such as a hard disk drive, solid-state drive, floppy disk, memory card or USB flash drive for initial use. In some cases, the formatting operation may also create one or more new file systems. - by Wikipedia

The process of formatting an SD card is similar to format disk in Windows, it will also go through the next two processes:

1. Remove all existing data on the SD card

If your SD card is a used one and you have stored some important personal data on it, it's a wise choice that you back up SD card and store the backup in another safe location in advance. 

2. Reset the file system to an SD card

If the current file system of your SD card is not supported on an Android phone, it's necessary that you reset the format to the card. And which is the best format for an SD card on an Android phone? NTFSFAT32, or ExFAT? Continue reading the next part, and you'll get the answer. 

What Is the Best Format for SD Card for Android?

There are multiple file system formats widely used on storage devices, including Windows formats like NTFS, FAT32, ExFAT, EXT2/3/4, and Mac formats like APFS, HFFS, Mac OS Extended, etc.

So which is the best format for SD card? Android phones will accept both FAT32 and ExFAT as their default file system formats. When your SD card storage capacity is less than 32GB, you can set FAT32 to the card. When the storage space on the SD card goes beyond 64GB or larger, you can set the format as ExFAT.

Two Things You Need to Know:

1. If your SD card is larger than 64GB with ExFAT format, and you rooted the Android phone, Android may not be able to recognize or read your SD card with ExFAT. 

In this case, you can first back up SD card files to another location. Then, format 64GB SD card to FAT32. And restore backup files to the SD card. Then, you can make the SD card work normally on an Android phone.

2. Select FAT32 for your SD card format on Android instead of NTFS. NTFS is normally set as the default file system format for Windows hard drive partitions. 

To use SD cards on Android phones, FAT32 is more suitable. If your current SD card is NTFS, you can follow this link to convert NTFS to FAT32 without formatting or losing any data on the card.

So how do I format my SD card for Android? Follow the respective guide below, and you'll simply set up your SD card ready for Android phones:

  1. #1. Format SD Card for Android with Android Mobiles
  2. #2. Format SD Card for Android on Windows PC

Note that if your SD card is a brand new memory card, go to Method 1 to learn the details. If you have an old SD card and need to format it for an Android phone, turn to Method 2 for help.

Guide 1: How Do I Format New SD Card for Android in Mobile Phones

  • Tools: Android phone SD card slot, a new SD card, and Android settings.
  • Applies to: Format SD card in mobile, like Samsung, Xiaomi, Sony, Huawei, etc., format SD card Android 13/12/11, etc.

The answer to "Do I need to format a new SD card for Android" is YES. In order to make your new SD card recognizable, readable, and accessible for internal or potable storage, it's necessary that you format SD card for Android on your phone. 

Here are the steps of how to format your new SD card and set it up for Android:

#1. Format SD Card for Portable Storage on Android

If you want to use the SD card to store files only, follow the steps here to set it up for Android:

Step 1. Take out the SD card slot and place your new SD card into the slot.

Step 2. Insert the SD card back into your Android phone.

Step 3. Open settings on Android, tap "Storage" > "SD Card".

Step 4. Select Menu, and tap on "Storage Settings" > "Format" > "Format card".

format SD card for storing files

This will set up your new SD card to store files like photos, videos, music files, etc., successfully on Android. 

#2. Format SD Card for Adoptable Storage on Android

If you want to install apps on your SD card and store files on it, follow the steps here to format SD card for internal and adoptable storage:

 Step 1. Take out the SD card slot and place your new SD card into the slot.

Step 2. Insert the SD card back into your Android phone.

Step 3. Open settings on Android, tap "Storage" > "SD Card".

Step 4. Select Menu, and tap on "Storage Settings" > "Format" > "Format another way" > "Format".

format files for storing files and apps Android

When the process completes, your SD card is ready to store both files and apps on your Android phone. 

Guide 2: How to Format SD Card for Android on Windows PC

  • Tools: Android phone SD card slot, SD card reader, SD card formatter like File Explorer or format software. 
  • Applies to: Format SD card on PC, format SD card to ExFAT or FAT32.

When your SD card was used for other purposes or your SD card is not formatted as ExFAT or FAT32, you'll need to format the card on your PC instead of using the mobile phone. And here is the process of how to format SD card for Android on a Windows PC:

#1. Connect SD Card to PC

  • Take out your SD card from a media player or camera.
  • Insert it into an SD card reader and connect it to your PC.
  • Open File Explorer and back up essential files in advance.

Connect SD card to PC

#2. Format SD Card on Windows PC

Here we have two simple solutions to assist you to format SD card on the computer:

1. Format with Free SD Card Formatting Software

EaseUS Partition Master Free is a reliable free partition manager software that simplifies the process of formatting SD card, USB, external hard drive, or HDD/SSD with only a few simple clicks. 

Free Download 

Windows 11/10/8/7100% Secure

The biggest feature that you may like is that this tool breaks the limit of FAT32, which means you can format a big SD card to FAT32 successfully. For example, you can format 128GB SD card to FAT32 with the following steps:

Step 1. Find your SD card and right-click the partition you want to format and choose "Format".

Step 2. Set a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click "OK".

Step 3. Click "Yes" on the pop-up window to continue.

Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button on the toolbar, then click "Apply" to start formatting your SD card.

2. Format SD Card Using File Explorer

You can also format the SD card with File Explorer on your PC with the next steps:

Step 1. Connect the SD card to your PC via an SD card reader.

Step 2. Press Windows + E to open File Explorer, locate and right-click on your SD card, and select "Format".

Step 3. Set a new file system to your SD card, tick "Quick Format", and click "Start".

Step 4. When the formatting process completes, click "OK" to confirm.

Format SD card

#3. Insert SD Card to Your Android Phone

Step 1. Eject and unplug the SD card reader from your PC properly.

Step 2. Take out the SD card from the SD card reader and insert it into the SD card slot.

Step 3. Insert the SD card slot into your Android phone.

Insert SD card to Android phone

Now, you can make use of the SD card on your phone to either store files or save files flexibly. 

Bonus Tip: Why I Can't Format My SD Card on My Android? How to Fix?

We collected 2 major solutions to assist you in formatting SD cards for Android, and most of you can follow the above guidelines to successfully set up both old and new SD cards on Android phones.

However, sometimes you may encounter the following errors:

So why is your SD card not formatting on both Android phones and Windows PCs? It could be the following causes that prevent you from formatting the card for Android:

  • SD card file system format is not supported on Android.
  • SD card is not initialized or has no partition.
  • SD card is locked due to write protection or encryption.
  • SD card is not recognized or detected by PC or phone.
  • Virus or malware infection.

Stay calm when your SD card is with any of the above-listed issues that prevent you from formatting it. And here is a quick guide that you can apply to fix it:

Step 1. Reconnect the SD card to your PC.

You can change the SD card reader or reconnect it to another USB port on the PC.

Step 2. Run anti-virus to clean up viruses and malware on your phone, PC, and SD card.

Step 3. If the SD card is locked or write-protected, follow the links here to unlock the SD card:

Step 4. Re-format the SD card on your PC using File Explorer or third-party SD card formatter - EaseUS Partition Master Free, as shown in Guide 1 and Guide 2.

Format SD Card for Android Is Easy, and You Can Manage This On Your Own

When you need to set up an SD card for use on Android, you have two ways to make the card ready: 

1. Format SD card using an Android phone

2. Format SD card on PC using Windows built-in formatting tool or SD card formatting software

Both two methods work to make your SD card ready for use on Android phones. For a new SD card, we suggest you pick the first method. As for a used SD card, you can turn to the second method for help. 

To simplify the SD card formatting process, the third-party formatting tool - EaseUS Partition Master Free makes everything for you to execute the operation. And you can manage the SD card formatting process like an expert.

Free Download 

Windows 11/10/8/7100% Secure

FAQs About Formatting SD Card for Android

In this part, we listed 3 top concerned questions about SD card formatting for Android, and if you are interested, follow and check out the answers below.

1. Can I format SD card for Android online?

No, you can't format an SD card for Android online. For now, there is no online solution or online formatting that can assist you in formatting an SD card online.

You still need a format tool pre-installed on Windows or on the phone to format your SD card.

2. What format does Android use for SD cards?

To use an SD card on Android phones, you can set it as FAT32 for 32GB or smaller SD card and ExFAT for 64GB or larger SD card.

3. How to move apps to SD card?

To do so, you'll first check if your SD card is formatted as internal storage. If not, format it to adoptable storage at first:

  • Tap on "Storage" > "SD Card" > "Storage Settings" > "Format" > "Format another way" > "Format".

Then, you can move apps to your SD card with tips here:

  • Tap on "Settings" > "Apps" > Tap on "SD card" > Select Applications, and tap "Move to SD card".

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About the Author

Updated by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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