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How to Solve Can't Format SD Card on Android Phone, Camera, and Windows PC

This page describes reasons and solutions to all kinds of SD card can not format issues. And it covers all the fixes to resolve SD card cannot format error on Android phone, camera, and Windows PC. Follow to fix this error without losing data on your own,

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Table of Contents

Don't worry if you can't format SD card on phone, camera, or Windows PC. On this page, you'll learn why you can't format SD card, how to fix this error, and successfully format SD card on your devices.

SD card, as a type of memory card in portable electronic devices, is widely used on Android phones, tablets, cameras, and some media players. The SD card also works as extended storage for you to save or back up files. To make use of a brand new SD card or set SD card for some specific usage, you'll need to format the SD card.

However, sometimes, due to some unknown errors, you may not be able to format the SD card. Check out the reasons why you can't format the SD card and learn how to fix this issue from the following parts.

Why Can't I Format an SD Card

To help you fully resolve the SD card cannot format issues, it's a wise choice to get to know the reasons behind this error. Usually, reasons for can't format SD card error on different devices are dissimilar.

Check the exact causes of why you can't format an SD card on your phone, camera, or computer:

On an Android phone:

Can't format SD card on Android phone

  • SD card unexpectedly removed or unmounted.
  • SD card is damaged. Try reformatting it.
  • Blank SD card or has an unsupported file system. 

On a camera:

Can't format SD card on Android phone

On a PC:

How Can I Fix Can't Format SD Card Error (On Phone, Camera, PC)

So how do I fix an SD card that won't format or SD card cannot format? This is what we're going to discuss and you are also suggested to take the tips as follows:

1. Pick Up a Proper Way

As the ways to fix SD card cannot format error are distinctive, we suggest you take the specific fixes that apply to your situation:

  1. #1. Fix Can't Format SD Card on Android Phone
  2. #2. Fix SD Card Can't Format Issue on Camera
  3. #3. Fix SD Cannot Format on Windows PC

2. Back Up Essential SD Card Files in Advance

In order to avoid unnecessary file loss issue, and if you can still access the SD card, please back up all vital data from the SD card to another secure location.

Windows backup software - EaseUS Todo Backup can give you a once-for-all resolution for SD card backup.

If your SD card is inaccessible, don't worry. You can first fix this error with the suggested method as presented in the next 3 parts and then turn to reliable EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard such as EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to restore your valuable SD card files.

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Part 1. Fix Can't Format SD Card on Android Phone

When you can't format SD card on an Android phone, you can first try the steps to make it work again:

Step 1. Remove and reconnect the SD card to your phone.

Step 2. Restart the Android phone and go to Settings.

Step 3. Tap "Storage", locate the SD card, and tap on "Mount SD Card".

Step 4. Then tap on "Format SD Card" to start formatting it on your phone.

Fix can't format SD card on Android Phone

If it doesn't work, move the SD card, connect it to your PC via an SD card reader, and format it on your PC.

After this, insert the SD card back and restart your phone, you should be able to use the card as extended storage to save music, photos, and other data by now.

Also Read: SD Won't Mount on Android or PC

Note that if the presented method doesn't work, it's highly possible that the SD card is corrupted or has an unsupported file system. You need to take the card out of your phone and connect it to a computer. Then turn to the fixes in Part 3 for help.

Part 2. Fix SD Can't Format on Camera

Mostly, when you are unable to format the SD card, you can remove and reinsert the card. And reformat the SD card again. Here are the steps to fix SD card can't format issue on your Camera:

Step 1. Take the SD card out of your camera.

Step 2. Unlock the SD card by changing its switch.

remove write protection

Step 3. Replace a new SD card if it's damaged.

Step 4. Insert SD card to the camera, restart it and go to Settings.

Step 5. Select SD card and select "Format Card", click "OK"

Fix can't format SD card error on Camera

Wait for the formatting to finish. If you still can't format it, move the card and connect it to your PC, format it on your computer instead. If you can't format the SD card on your computer, refer to the fixes in the next part to resolve this error with ease.

Part 3. Fix SD Card Cannot Format on Windows PCs

When you can't format SD card on Windows PC or mobile phone, camera, it's probably that your card is containing internal errors, such as file system corruption, write-protected, unsupported file system, etc. 

Here we collected * methods that you can try them one by one to fix this error and format your SD card successfully:

  1. #1. Remove Write Protection from SD Card
  2. #2. Check and Repair SD Card Error
  3. #3. Format SD Card with Best SD Card Formatter

Remove Write Protection from SD Card

Mostly, when you see Windows warning that it was unable to complete the format on your SD card, the first thing we suggest you do is to check if the SD card is write-protected.

Check SD Card

Step 1. Connect SD card to PC and open File Explorer.

Step 2. Check if the SD card:

  • Format SD, it will pop up with the "Disk is write protected" error message.
  • If the SD card is encrypted, it will be marked with a lock icon.
  • If the SD card is read-only, it will show as read-only in its Properties setting.

Remove Write Protection with DiskPart Command

Step 1. Connect SD card to PC.

Step 2. Press Windows + R, type cmd and hit Enter.

Step 3. Type the command lines below and hit Enter each time:

  • dispart
  • list disk
  • select disk # (Replace # with the disk number of your SD card.)
  • attributes disk clear readonly

Step 4. Type exit to close DiskPart when the process completes.

Clear SD Card write protection

Write Protection Removal Tool

If you don't consider yourself a pro-computer user and you're not familiar with command-lines, don't worry. There are graphical-based solutions to help you remove write-protection from your hard drives, USB drives, and even SD cards.

EaseUS CleanGenius is one of these tools that helps you fix aforementioned issues on your drives without knowing a thing about command-line.

Here's an easy-to-follow guide on how to use this tool to get your issues sorted:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD and install EaseUS CleanGenius (free) on your computer.

Step 2: Run EaseUS CleanGenius on your PC, select Optimization and choose the Write Protection mode.

disable write protection

Step 3: Select the device that is write-protected and click Disable to remove the protection.

Disable Write Protection from storage devices.

Note: If your SD card is locked by encryption software or it's encrypted by BitLocker, see also: How to Remove Write Protection from SD Card

Check and Repair SD Card Errors (Bad Sectors, File System Error) 

As listed in the causes at the beginning of this page, bad sectors, invalid or corrupted file systems, etc., can lead to SD cards cannot format error.

The best way is to check and repair internal SD card errors with the CHKDSK command:

Step 1. Insert SD card to your PC.

Step 2. Press Windows + X keys and select "Command Prompt (Admin)".

Step 3. Type CHKDSK F: /f /r hit Enter.

(Replace F with the drive letter of your SD card.)

repair sd card with chkdsk command

Usually, it will spend 3-4 hours. Wait for the process to complete and then all bad sectors and the corrupted file systems will be fixed by this command.

Format SD card to FAT32/NTFS

Now that you can retry to use Disk Management to format the SD card to a supported file system like FAT32 or NTFS on your computer again:

Step 1. Connect the SD card to your computer.

Step 2. Press Windows + R keys and type diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter.

Step 3. On Disk Management, right-click on SD card, and choose "Format Volume...".

Step 4. Reset the file system on your SD card into FAT32 or NTFS and click OK to confirm.

format sd card in disk management

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Bonus Tip: Recover Lost Data from Formatted SD Card 

As we know, that sometimes, when the SD card is inaccessible, you'll have to format it first. As a result, data loss is inevitable.

In this case, you'll need to recover data after formatting the SD card. The sooner you take action, the better chance you have for SD card format recovery.

You have two options: 1. Use SD Card Recovery Software; 2. Customize Data Recovery Service.

Option 1. Use SD Card File Recovery Software

Turning to a reliable SD card EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a wise choice. Here, you can try EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard that enables you to fully restore all missing and hidden files from inaccessible SD card, USB, or even external hard drive with a few simple clicks.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

Just download and install it on your PC and try to recover data with the guide here.

Step 1. Connect the SD card, memory card, or CF Card to your computer and launch EaseUS memory card recovery software on your PC. The SD card will be listed under the Devices section. Choose the SD card and click "Scan" to start looking for your lost data.

select a location and click scan

Step 2. The software will start a scan automatically. The scan is powerful enough to find all lost files that even lost file names. After the scanning process, you can find deleted items from the tree-view panel on the left. Then, click "Filter" if you are looking for a specific file type, like photos, documents, videos or emails.

scan and preview the memory/SD/CF card files

Step 3. You can directly double-click the files to preview the content. After this, you can choose wanted files and click "Recover" to restore them to a secure location on your PC or other external storage devices.

recover memory/SD/CF card files

Option 2. Customize Data Recovery Service

Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:

  • Repair corrupted RAID structure, unbootable Windows OS and corrupted virtual disk file (.vmdk, .vhd, .vhdx, etc.)
  • Recover/repair lost partition and re-partitioned drive
  • Unformat hard drive and repair raw drive (BitLocker encrypted drive)
  • Fix disks that become GPT-protected partitions


On this page, we explained why can't an SD card be formatted and the complete process of fixing the "Can't format SD card" error on your phone, camera, or computer.

Note that if your SD card is accessible, don't forget to back up all important files first. Otherwise, you'll need to turn to data recovery software like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for help after formatting the SD card.

If you have a further question related to SD card can't format, don't worry. Check the questions and answers here. You may find a satisfying answer.

People Also Ask

1. Why can't I format my SD card as internal storage?

To turn to an SD card as internal storage, you must check if the card is blank. If your SD card is not blank, it must be the reason why you can't format it as internal storage.

Follow the steps here for help:

  1. 1. Empty the SD card on your computer.
  2. 2. Insert the SD card to your Android phone.
  3. 3. Go to Settings, select "Storage".
  4. 4. Select the SD card, tap the three dots, and select "Settings"
  5. 5. Select "Format as internal", then select "Erase & Format".
  6. 6. Reboot your phone.

2. How do I fix a corrupted SD card?

When your SD Card is corrupted, turn to the steps here for a quick fix:

  1. 1. Reconnect the SD card to your PC or a new one.
  2. 2. Assign a new drive letter to the card.
  3. 3. Show hidden files on the SD.
  4. 4. Run CHKDSK to fix file system error.
  5. 5. Update SD card driver.
  6. 6. Format SD card to FAT32, exFAT, etc.

3. Can't format/erase SD card on Mac, Help!

According to most Mac users, Disk Utility can't format or erase SD card due to some reasons. Here are some practical fixes that you can try:

  1. 1. Unlock the SD card.
  2. 2. If the SD card contains Mac unsupported file system, format it on Windows.
  3. 3. Turn to a third-party SD card formatting tool.
  4. 4. Clear read-only from SD card and format it again.

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Updated by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech lives easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. In her spare time, she loves sharing things about her game experience on Facebook or Twitter.

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Written by Tracy King

Tracy became a member of the EaseUS content team in 2013. Being a technical writer for over 10 years, she is enthusiastic about sharing tips to assist readers in resolving complex issues in disk management, file transfer, PC & Mac performance optimization, etc., like an expert.

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