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How to Restore or Format SD Card to Full Capacity

Updated by Tracy King on Nov 17, 2022
Written by Daisy

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Method 1. Restore SD card full size with EaseUS partitioning tool (Partition Master) Step 1: Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD...Full steps
Method 2. Repair SD card showing less space via Command Prompt Step 1:  In Windows 10, for example, type cmd in the search box, you can get the best match called Command Prompt....Full steps
Method 3. Repair SD card showing less capacity via Disk Management Step 1:  Press Windows+R > Choose Disk Management; Step 2: Right-click SD card and select Format....Full steps

Reasons for SD Card Not Showing Full Capacity

Similar cases can happen on other storage devices like USB flash drive, pen drive, hard drive, memory card, etc. Why is my SD card not showing its full capacity? How can I restore the SD memory card to the full size? Users always ask questions when they encountered such strange events.

Usually, SD card not showing full capacity happens because some card readers or host devices are not compatible with the larger SDHC and SDXC cards. If the reader or host is not compatible with the larger capacity, the card will be repartitioned to a size that is supported. For example, if your card reader or camera is compatible with an SDHC card with a maximum capacity of 32GB using this reader or camera to format a 64GB SDXC card will result in the card being repartitioned to 32GB (~27GB usable capacity). And SD card not showing full capacity can also occur due to invisible shadow files, formatting overhead, hidden recovery partitions, and unallocated space

If you're experiencing similar issues to the SD card not showing full capacity, don't worry! Here is a solution. You can use a reader or host that supports the full capacity of the card and use a third-party SD card format tool to restore full capacity on SDHC/SDXC cards with ease. What's more, use the Diskpart command to repair it.

Method 1. Restore SD Card Full Size with EaseUS Partitioning Tool

To help you reclaim lost or unallocated space and restore SD card to full capacity/original size safely and easily, here we recommend you EaseUS Partition Master, a powerful disk management tool that allows you to format hard drives and conventional removable storage devices. Now you can try the following guide to reformat SD card and restore SD card to full capacity with this tool in simple steps.

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Notice:
To avoid data loss when SD card not showing full capacity, we recommend backing up important files first. Read on how to backup sd card for data security.

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the "Format" option.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 1

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

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 2

Step 3. In the Warning window, click "Yes" to continue.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 3

Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 4

Additional tips for choosing a proper file system for your SD card:

  • FAT32 – Suitable for 2-32GB memory card. (Optimal choice)
  • NTFS – Suitable for almost all sizes of SD cards, under 2TB.

Method 2. Repair SD Card Showing Less Space via Command Prompt

The introduced SD card formatter shall hopefully help you regain the original size of the memory card. Though this is the easiest and most powerful way to deal with a removable hard disk that is showing less disk space than actual, there is still an alternative way to do this. Windows Command Prompt, which requires a higher level of computer skills than using the third-party automated tool, doesn't need to download and install. It's a built-in Windows native tool for everyone with administrator privilege to use.

To troubleshoot the SD card, of which some precious storage was lost somehow, you can use the DISKPART command lines to recreate a new volume by carefully following each step.

Step 1: In Windows 10, for example, type cmd in the search box, you can get the best match called Command Prompt. Right-click on it and choose "Run as administrator".

Step 2: On the Command Prompt black window, type diskpart and press "Enter".

type diskpart to format hard drive with command prompt

Step 3: Now type list disk and press "Enter". All the disk drives will be listed, including your SD card connected to the computer.

type list disk to format hard drive with command prompt

Step 4: Refer to the list disk information, type select disk + disk number, for example, select disk 2 and press enter. You're telling diskpart to format disk 2.

type select disk 1 to format hard drive with command prompt

Step 5: Go on to type clean. This step starts to clean up all files and folders on the selected hard disk.

type clean to format hard drive with command prompt

Step 6: Type create partition primary and press "Enter".

type create partition primary to format hard drive with command prompt

Step 7: After diskpart successfully created the specified partition, type format fs=ntfs (or format fs=exfat) and press "Enter". You're telling diskpart to format the drive with a file system, let it be NTFS, exFAT, etc.

type format fs=ntfs to format hard drive with command prompt

Step 8: At last, assign a drive letter to the newly created partition by typing assign.

type assign to format hard drive with command prompt

Additional tips for running Diskpart without a hitch:

  • You must run Diskpart as administrators. Otherwise, Windows will forbid you to run it properly. There is another access to open Windows Command Prompt: Windows + X keys -> Command Prompt (Admin).
  • Here's how to deal with the other common error: Diskpart has encountered an error access is denied.

Method 3. Repair SD Card Showing Less Capacity via Disk Management

In order to restore SD card to factory settings, please follow the steps of disk management:

Step 1. Press Windows+R > Choose Disk Management.

start disk management

Step 2. Right-click SD card and select Format.

disk management format

How to Restore SD Card to Full Capacity on Mac

When it comes to repair SD card showing less capacity, here is a guide about how to reset a SD card.

Step 1: Open Disk Utility app.

Step 2: Select your SD card and choose Erase.

Step 3: Choose file system > Erase.

disk utility format

After this, your SD card will display its full storage capacity on the computer and you can save as many files as you want to the device by then.

Conclusion

On this page, we introduced 4 reliable methods to assist you in resolving the SD card not showing full capacity issue on both Windows and Mac computers.

  • On Windows computer, the best solution to resolve SD card not showing full size is to turn to EaseUS Partition Master for help.

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  • On Mac, the best tool to deal with SD card showing partial space error is to use Disk Utility to format and erase the drive to full capacity.

FAQS About SD Card Not Showing Full Capacity 

If you have further questions bout this issue, follow the questions here and find the answers below:

1. How do I fix SD card not showing full capacity?

  • Connect the SD card to your computer.
  • Open File Explorer to locate SD card volume, open and back up all useful data from SD card to another drive.
  • Right-click on SD card and select "Format".
  • Tick "Perform a quick format" and set a new file system to the SD card.
  • Click "Start" and "OK".

2. Why does my memory card show less capacity than listed?

The reason why a storage device or drive shows less than advertised is that storage drive capacity is calculated differently from then other capacities in computing. In a storage device, 1GB is regarded as 1000000000 bytes, while in computing 1GB is calculated as 1024MB = 1,048,576kb=1,073,741,824 bytes.

For example, here we'll take a 250GB memory card as an example to show you the differences:

  • Memory card advertised capacity: 250GB
  • Memory card Windows reported capacity: 233GB

This is why your memory card shows less capacity than listed.

3. Why does my 16GB SD card show 14GB?

The 16GB in the SD card is its storage capacity which is defined in bytes, while the 14GB that you see shown on the computer is its computing storage capacity which used GB to calculate the value. Also, 16GB storage capacity in a memory card equals 14.9GB on a computer, this is why you see a 16GB SD card shows only 14GB on a computer.  

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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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Written by Daisy

Daisy is the Senior editor of the writing team for EaseUS. She has been working in EaseUS for over ten years, starting from a technical writer to a team leader of the content group. As a professional author for over 10 years, she writes a lot to help people overcome their tech troubles.

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Product Reviews

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  • I love that the changes you make with EaseUS Partition Master Free aren't immediately applied to the disks. It makes it way easier to play out what will happen after you've made all the changes. I also think the overall look and feel of EaseUS Partition Master Free makes whatever you're doing with your computer's partitions easy.

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  • Partition Master Free can Resize, Move, Merge, Migrate, and Copy disks or partitions; convert to local, change label, defragment, check and explore partition; and much more. A premium upgrade adds free tech support and the ability to resize dynamic volumes.

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  • It won't hot image your drives or align them, but since it's coupled with a partition manager, it allows you do perform many tasks at once, instead of just cloning drives. You can move partitions around, resize them, defragment, and more, along with the other tools you'd expect from a cloning tool.

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