How to Fix a Corrupted SD Card Without Formatting

Houston we have a problem! Oh no! Your SD card is corrupted. Now what do you do?

Don’t worry, your concern is warranted and many people want to know how to fix a corrupted SD card. The good news is that the corrupt SD card can be salvaged and you can fix it without formatting.

Hello everyone! My name is Lavelle and I am a professional photographer and videographer. I am also a film editor and during my lengthy career, I have had to “fix” many SD cards and in some instances, I needed to do so without formatting.

In this article, I will go over some indicators that an SD card is corrupted. I will also go over ways to fix the corrupted SD card and I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about SD cards and corruption issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Save your data! That is one of the most important pieces of advice that I can leave with you. Back up your data regularly and keep multiple storage devices at your disposal.
  • If you think you have a corrupted SD card, try to recover the files first before attempting to format the disk.
  • Keep your SD cards clean. Don’t expose the cards to adverse environmental conditions such as rain, water, or dust.

Signs of Corrupted SD Card

Here are some common signs that your SD card is corrupted. I’ve experienced all of these signs at some point during my professional journey.

Connection Issues

One of the most common indicators that your SD card might be corrupted is when you experience connection issues. You insert the SD card into your computer, camera, or device and nothing happens. There could be several reasons why the device is not recognizing the card, however, it may just be an indication that the card is corrupt.

When this occurs, check your SD card out to ensure it isn’t damaged, excessively dirty, or otherwise faulty. If none of these signs are present, it may be time to investigate whether the card is corrupt.

Read Issues

If you attempt to save new files and an SD card keeps failing to operate, there is a good chance that it is corrupt. Whether it’s a read or write error, it is a malfunction of some sort. There are some times when the card is write protected, however, in most instances that is not the case.

Missing Files

One of the most common indications that an SD card is corrupt is when you can’t find files that should be on the card. There have been so many times when I’ve inserted an SD card into my laptop to review files and there’s nothing there! It is a frustrating and scary moment.

After all, my precious and important files are nowhere to be found. Some type of file system error has occurred and it could be a result of a corrupted SD card. The good news is that it can be recovered, in most cases.

Slow Performance

What about when it is taking an extremely long time to open a file? Or when you take a photo and it seems like the camera is taking forever to process the image? These slow performance issues are normally attributed to corrupt SD cards.

5 Methods to Fix a Corrupted SD Card

Here are five methods you can use to fix a corrupted SD card without formatting.

1. Try an SD Card on Another Device

One of the first things you can do is to try the card on another device. Much like rebooting a device fixes many simple problems, sometimes simply trying the SD card on another device solves the problem.

2. Check It for Errors

If step one didn’t work, you should proceed to the next step which includes checking the SD card for errors. To do this you can follow these steps:

  • For Windows computers, go to the command prompt and type in “chkdsk” and follow that with a drive letter such as “f” and a colon. So it will look like this: chkdsk/f: The /f parameter tells the chkdsk command to fix all memory card errors.
  • For Mac users, there are other tools available for repairing file system errors. You can perform a check within the Mac operating system but in most cases, you need to use recovery mode to fix the common file system issues.

3. Reinstall or Update the SD Card Drivers

The next course of action is to reinstall or update the SD card drivers. Windows users should right-click on the My Computer and then click on the Manage button. Next, press the Device Manager button and then double-click on the Disk Drives button. Now click Uninstall and OK. Then remove the SD card and restart your computer or device.

For Mac users, open System Settings and then select General. Next, click on the System Report button. Now, under the Hardware section, select the Card Reader option. Find the card reader from the list. 

Check the Driver Installed option to determine if the driver is already installed on the system or not. Next, click the Update Driver.

4. Use Windows Repair Tool

Windows users can try fixing the corrupted SD card with the help of the Windows Repair Tool. To do this type “This PC” in the search window and click on the This PC button. Next, right-click on the SD card and then click on the Properties

Now press the Tools button and then select the Check option. Next, click on the Scan and Repair button.

5. Use Data Recovery Software

If none of the above steps worked then it’s time to use a data recovery program. There are several good choices such as Disk Drill or Stellar Photo Recovery.


Here are answers to a couple of frequently asked questions. 

Why Do SD Cards Get Corrupted So Easily?

There’s no single answer to this question but in short, SD cards get corrupted easily because of factors such as file transfer errors, viruses, bad sectors, improper ejection practices, and other such issues.

How Much Does It Cost to Recover a Corrupted SD Card?

Generally speaking, the cost to recover data from a corrupted SD card can range from no cost to a few hundred dollars. It depends on the complexity of the recovery process and the condition of the SD card.

Final Thoughts

While formatting an SD card is a common “fix” for corrupted cards, it is certainly not the only option. As we have discussed in this article, there are several other ways to attempt to fix a corrupted SD card. Pay attention to the indicators I’ve mentioned here and be sure to backup your data/files regularly.

Have you dealt with a corrupted SD card? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Until next time, enjoy technology!

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