Damaged SD Card Recovery | Fix Corrupted/Damaged SD Card Without Losing Data

Roxanne updated on Jan 16, 2020 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles


This article comprises 8 useful ways to fix a corrupted SD card in Windows 10/8.1/8/7, including using the native Windows tools as well as third-party SD card repair tools. As soon as your SD memory card has signs of corruption, take prompt measures to prevent data loss. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard comes handy for data recovery when your corrupted SD card is not open, not accessible, or files deleted, formatted, etc.

As a tiny, portable and functional type of extended capacity, the SD card still plays an essential role in popular devices, such as digital cameras, Android phones & tablets, video game consoles, and some electronic instruments. It's "walking" storage that can be placed on multiple different devices. As it is, frequently plugging in and out an SD card is likely to expose problems, especially without safe ejection, giving rise to file system corruption or bad sectors. 

Common Signs of SD Card Corruption

Are you experiencing the exact SD card corruption issue? Apart from the improper handle of the SD card, there are many other devastating situations that will bring an SD card not working anymore. The commonly seen factors are, e.g, a virus infection, interrupt data transfer, SD card removal while writing files to it, etc.

Anyway, when you see any one of the following signs, it means that your SD card has been corrupted, damaged or at least needs small repairs.

  • SD card suddenly shows empty - photos and other preserved files are missing.
  • SD card becomes extremely slow - the camera hangs or turns black screen while taking pictures.
  • SD card is not open - Windows asks you to format the SD card before you can use it; file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.
  • SD card is not showing up in Windows - it doesn't appear in Windows Explorer as a removable disk but displays as an invalid file system (RAW) in Disk Management.
  • SD card is not recognized - it shows no media in Windows Disk Management or it is simply not visible at all...

8 Ways to Fix Corrupted/Damaged SD Card

To fix different levels of damage, it's advisable for SD card owners to try troubleshooting methods one by one, from simple to complex. Altogether, there are 8 ways of SD card repair solutions that are widely recommended on websites and forums. Let's start with a detailed guide for each fix.

Fix 1. Change a card reader, adapter or a USB port

Sometimes, connection issues or power issues are likely to cause SD card problems. First of all, it's better to exclude exterior factors that can be fixed with a few tricks. 

How do you connect the removable SD card to the PC? Take advantages of anything that is available to you, like a different USB port on your computer, a new card adapter or another computer. Try a re-connection for a couple of times. Does your memory card work normally again? If changing a connection device helps remove the SD card errors, take prompt measures to prevent data loss. Try to copy pictures and videos as many as possible from the SD card to cloud storage or other safe places.

Fix 2. Run Windows Repair Tool

Nothing's changed by performing the primary examination? Continue with the native Windows check and repair tool to repair the SD card. 

Step 1: Connect the SD card to your PC

Step 2: Press Windows + E to open Windows Explorer.

Step 3: Right-click the SD card and open its Properties.

Step 4: Click on the Tools tab.

Step 5: Click the Check button.

check and repair the damaged sd card

Step 6: Let the scan process completes. Close the scan window once it finishes.

Fix 3. Change a drive letter

If the Windows system does not assign a drive letter to the SD card, or because its drive letter is conflicted with other drives, your SD card will act as it has corrupted, and become unreadable. This time try to change a drive letter to it with the inbuilt Windows Disk Management program.

Step 1: Press Win + X keys and click Disk Management.

Step 2: Find and right-click on your SD card and select Change Drive Letter and Path...

change sd card drive letter and paths

Step 3: Click Add and select a new drive letter and click "OK" to save all the changes. 

Fix 4. Run CHKDSK to check and repair SD card bad sectors

SD card has a limited lifespan, like other removable storage devices. It will grow bad sectors after a long period of use. Chkdsk cmd is good at finding SD card file system corruption errors and removing bad sectors from it. This is also the most applicable way to repair SD card without formatting it.

Step 1: Plug your SD card into your computer with a card reader.

Step 2: Go to the start menu, type "cmd" in a search bar, hit enter and you will see "cmd.exe" in a list of programs.

Step 3: Click "cmd.exe" and then you will get the following command window that will allow you to fix your corrupted SD card without formatting.    

Using chkdsk to fix a corrupted SD card without data loss step 1

Step 4: Type in chkdsk /X /f [sd card letter]: or chkdsk [sd card letter]: /f.

For example, chkdsk /X /f h: or chkdsk h: /f, if your card is in drive letter H.

Using chkdsk to fix a corrupted SD card without data loss step 2

After finishing all these steps, Windows will begin to check and fix the file system of the SD card. It usually takes several minutes. After that, if you see "Windows has made corrections to the file system" in the command window, then congratulations, the damaged SD card is successfully fixed, and you can see your data again.

If you don't have any technical know-how and want to minimize data risks, using third-party software could be a better choice. The Command line is suitable for computer professionals since wrong commands can cause severe problems. Therefore, we strongly recommend you try an automatic command line alternative.

EaseUS Tools M is a practical computer fixing tool that is safe and light-weighted. It's a perfect alternative to CHKDSK command. Use this one-click tool to solve your computer issues.

To fix file system error or disk error:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD EaseUS Tools M for Free and install it.

Step 2: Open the software and select the "File showing" option. 

Step 3: Choose the drive and wait for repairing. After the operation completes, click the "View" button to check the drive. 

select the drive and check off file system error

Fix 5. Reinstall the SD card driver

The chances are that the SD card is not recognized by Windows at all, and you cannot see it anywhere in Windows Explorer or Windows Disk Management. You can try to reinstall the driver to make it appear again in Windows Device Manager.

Step 1: Press Win + X keys and click Device Manager.

Step 2: Expand Disk Drives, right-click on the name of your removable disk, and click Uninstall.

update sd card driver to fix corruption

Step 3: Click OK. Disconnect the SD card from your computer.

Step 4: Restart your computer. After a while, connect the SD card to your computer again. Windows will install the latest driver automatically and make the SD card detectable.

The Fix 1~5 are meant to repair SD card without formatting, which won't cause data loss on a corrupted memory card. Next, we'll offer three other ways that are also helpful in fixing a not working SD card, but it's about formatting the card. If the data is concerned, you need to perform data recovery in advance.

How to Recover Data from Corrupted SD Card

Once your SD card turns to RAW or Windows asks you to format it before you can use it, take it slow. If the files are still on the SD card, use data recovery software to export SD card data to another location as soon as possible. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a professional SD card recovery program that can be used to recover deleted, formatted or inaccessible data in various data loss cases.

It supports recovering data from computer hard drives, recovering formatted USB drives, and all storage media like SD cards, CF cards, etc. With its powerful data recovery capacity and intuitive user interface, it is the best choice to recover your data from a damaged SD card. After retrieving all your data, you can format the SD card to fix the damaged SD card error.

Fix 6. Format a RAW SD card

If the card is seen in Windows Disk Management but displays as RAW, you need to format it with a proper file system like NTFS or FAT32.

fix raw sd card

Detailed guide: Repair raw SD card

Fix 7. Format a half-capacity SD Card

There are moments that your SD card is with 32GB but it shows only half capacity or less, you need to restore its full capacity by formatting.

You can go on with Windows File Explorer or Disk Management, in addition, some SD card makers developed SDcard formatter that is specialized to fix corruption issues. The third-party SD card format tools are also useful in handling a corrupted SD card which formatting can be a great way out.

Detailed guide: restore SD card full capacity

Fix 8. Create a new SD card partition on unallocated space

RAW memory card won't show up in your computer, as well as when the SD card turns to empty, showing as unallocated space. To make it appear as normal, you need to manually create a partition to make Windows recognize it.

fix unallocated sd card

Detailed guide: Fix unallocated space on SD card


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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

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"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 to better 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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