How to Format SD Cards in All Devices

Tracy King updated on Jan 07, 2021 to Data Recovery Resouce | How-to Articles

Many of you may want to know how to format an SD card properly. On this page, we will show you how to format an SD card on various devices. If you want to unformat an SD card without losing data, data recovery software or Windows CMD can also help.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Part 1. Format SD Card on Windows 10 Method 1. Format SD Card Use Windows Explorer...Full steps
Method 2. Format SD Card Use Disk Management...Full steps
Part 2. Format SD card on the Camera Press the camera Menu button...Full steps
Part 3. Format SD Card on Android Phone Go to the Settings app on your phone, find Device Care...Full steps

What Does 'Format SD Card' Mean

Generally, formatting an SD card means to destroy the entries of all the existing data, disallowing you to find and use any files on the card. The existing files on the device will all get lost. It will assign a new file system - FAT32, exFAT, or NTFS to the SD card, preparing the device reusable to store data. In most cases, when you get a new SD card, it is pre-formatted and you can use it to store files directly.

Part 1. How to Format SD Card on Windows 10

This part is mainly about detailed steps of formatting SD card on the Windows computer. Before introducing the steps, we strongly suggest you back up your SD card ahead to prevent data loss.


  • USB card reader: To insert the SD card to your computer's USB port.
  • Micro SD card adapter: To insert the micro SD card to the SD card port on your computer.
  • USB micro SD card reader: To enables you to insert the micro SD card to the USB port directly.

Method 1. Format SD Card Use Windows Explorer

Step 1. Connect the SD card to your computer with the SD card reader.

Step 2. Go to "This PC" and open Windows Explorer, right-click your SD card, and then choose "Format".

Step 3. Specify the file system and set a new label to your SD card. Click "Start" and "OK" to confirm the formatting.

Note: FAT32 for SD card within 64GB, exFAT for SD card over 64GB.

Format SD with Windows Explorer

Method 2. Format SD Card Use Disk Management

Step 1. Insert your SD card into a card reader and connect it to your computer.

Step 2. Right-click "This PC", choose "Manage", enter "Disk Management".

Step 3. Locate and right-click on your SD card, choose "Format".

Step 4. Click "Yes" to continue, set a new label, file system - exFAT, FAT32, or NTFS to the card. Then click "OK" to format your SD card.

Format SD card with Disk Management

Part 2. How to Format SD card on the Camera

If your SD card is for the camera, you can directly format it inside your camera. Here we take the Canon camera as an example, but the settings on other camera brands will be very similar.

Step 1. Press the camera Menu button.

Step 2. Press multi-controller and head to Camera Settings 1.

Step 3. With the multi-controller, choose the "Format Card" option.

Step 4. Select "OK" to start the format.

Format SD Card on Camera

Part 3. How to Format SD Card on Android Phone

If the SD card is used on an Android phone, you can actually format it with your phone. But before you start, please make sure your phone is configured with this feature. Here we take the Samsung phone as an example.

Step 1. Go to the Settings app on your phone, find Device Care.

Step 2. Select Storage and tap the Advanced option.

Step 3. Under Portable storage select SD Card.

Step 4. Tap "Format", and tap "Format SD Card" to confirm.

Different models of mobile phones might require different operations. The core of this method is to find the SD card on your mobile phone's Settings app.

How to Unformat an SD Card and Restore Data

In case you misformat the SD card and want to restore the data on it. In this part, we will tell you how to unformat an SD card. 

First, you should know that formatting a memory card does not really erase the data on it. If the data area is not overwritten by new content, you can successfully bring them back. Thus, to ensure the maximum chance of recovering your files, stop using the device, and perform data recovery immediately with either way below.

Method 1. Run Format Data Recovery Software

An effective way is to use professional data recovery software, such as EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to undo formatting. It can scan your formatted device thoroughly and recover lost files according to your needs.

In addition to performing formatted file recovery, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard also enables you to:

  • Recover files after reinstalling Windows, OS crash, virus attack, and many other tough data loss situations
  • Recover deleted files in Windows 10 by using Shift-Delete or emptying the recycle bin
  • Retrieve lost photos, videos, audio files, Microsoft Office files, Adobe files, emails, and more (200+)

Download the software and restore files from your formatted SD card immediately.

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, select the SD card and click "Scan".

Select a Location to Start

Step 2. Wait until the scan is over. Click "Filter" to find a specific file type. You can also search the wanted files.

Filter the Needed Files

Step 3. Select the files you want to recover, and click the "Recover" button. You can also double click the files to preview before recovery.

Recover Chosen Files

Watch the video tutorial below, unformat your SD card with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

Method 2. Undo the Format with CMD

As mentioned above, you can format an SD card using CMD. Similarly, you can also unformat the SD card with it. Here is the way.

Step 1: Press "Win + R" keys or go to Search, type: cmd and hit "Enter". Open the Command Prompt window.

Step 2: Type: chkdsk F: /f and hit "Enter". (Replace F with the drive letter of the formatted SD card.)

Step 3: Type: Y and hit "Enter" to continue.

Step 4:Type: F and hit "Enter" again.

Step 5:Type: F:\>attrib -h -r -s /s /d *.* and hit "Enter".

Unformat SD Card

After this, you shall be able to view and check all data on the formatted SD card. If the command prompt is not working on your computer, use Method 1 instead.

Bonus Tips: SD Card Best Practices

Besides knowing what does 'format an SD card' means, how to format an SD card, and how to unformat the SD card to recover your data. It's also important to know what to do to make your SD card performs better.

1. Format instead of Erase

If you want to clean your old SD card data to make it fresh new again, please always choose the method of formatting the SD card. Because erasing, or deleting content on your SD cards doesn't fully clear the cards of leftover data.

2. Format New Cards Before Using

When you buy a new SD card, it's always good to reformat the card before using it. This ensures the card is ready for your device.

3. Make Regular Backups

Backing up your important content regularly with professional file backup software.

With the provided methods and tips on this page, you should be able to effectively format SD card, unformat, and how to make your SD card works well.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

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"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files, so verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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