How to Fix SD Card Won’t Format Error on Windows

One of the most frustrating experiences is when your SD card will not cooperate with your formatting intentions. Like you, I’ve experienced these frustrations and hurriedly looked for a solution. The good news is that there are things that you can do to address the “SD card won’t format” error message on your Windows device. 

Hello everyone! My name is Lavelle and I am a professional photographer and videographer. Over the course of my career, I have encountered countless instances of SD card errors. As a photographer, the SD card has been a primary part of my business inventory and formatting issues have been a main source of my professional frustration at times.

In this article, I will discuss some of the reasons why your computer will not allow you to format your SD card. I will also cover some ways to correct this issue and then leave you with some key takeaways to consider.

Key Takeaways

  • Save your data often and regularly. Doing so may help you avoid loss of data and important information.
  • If you are not technically savvy, it is recommended that you seek the help of a professional before attempting to use the command prompts to solve your error problem. 
  • Third-party software applications such as McAfee, Norton AntiVirus, AVG and others may be your best option when attempting to solve this error message issue.

Why Your Computer Won’t Enable You to Format an SD Card

One of the most common error messages that you will receive about your SD card is “Windows was unable to complete the format SD card”. Some other error messages include:

  • “Memory card not formatted. Operation failed”
  • “formatting FAT32 failed”
  • “The format did not complete successfully”
  • “Unable to format. SD card is write protected”

These error messages typically surface because your SD card is corrupted or damaged. Additionally, your card could be infected by a virus, have bad sectors, or it may be in read-only mode or write protection mode.

In either case, there are some things you can do to repair or correct these issues.

5 Ways to Fix SD Card Not Formatting on Windows

Here are five ways that you can use to fix your formatting error issue on your Windows device.

1. Disable Write Protection

The first thing you can try is to disable the write protection mode. This mode is the same as the card being in read-only mode. To disable the write protection mode, follow these steps.

Option 1: Ensure that the switch on the card is in the unlocked position.

Option 2: Remove the write protection by using anti-virus software. There are so many unknown viruses and malware that attempt to infiltrate your devices and in some cases, they add write protection to your device to disallow you to get to your saved data.

One of the most efficient fixes to this problem is to run antivirus software, which removes write protection viruses from your SD card. You can do this by using some of my recommended software applications.

The applications that I have found to be most comprehensive and successful include Norton Antivirus, McAfee, Avast, Avira, AVG, and others of this nature. 

2. Run CHKDSK Command to Delete Bad Sectors

Another solution is to use the command prompt to conduct a Chkdsk process which will delete bad sectors on your system. To complete this process, you should first access the command prompt. 

At the cmd.exe command prompt, type “chkdsk” followed by the drive letter, a colon, and /f and hit enter. For example, if your drive is G, you will type “chkdsk :G /f”.

When you hit the enter button, the process will be activated. This video has more:

3. Format SD Card with Disk Management

You can also attempt to format your SD card by using the “Disk Management” function. To complete this process, type “compmgmt.msc” in the Windows Run dialog and then press the Enter button.

Next, under the storage menu option, select Disk Management. Now, right click the drive letter and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths”.

Now click “Change”. You can now click “Ok” and close the disk management window and restart your computer. At this point, you should be able to connect the SD card to the device and it should be readable.

Once the device reads that the SD card is present, you can format the card.

4. Format SD Card Using DiskPart

Another option is to format the SD card using the DiskPart process.

To do this, begin by inserting or connecting your SD card to the PC and pressing the Windows + R keys simultaneously.

  1. In the Run dialog box, type “cmd” and press the enter button.
  2. Next, in the “cmd.exe” window, type “diskpart” to open the command prompt. Now type “list disk” and press Enter.
  3. Now type “Select disk X (where X is the disk number) and press enter to choose the SD card drive that you want to format. Now, type “list partition Y” (where Y is the partition number) and press Enter.
  4. Type “format fs=ntfs quick” and press Enter. Once this is complete, type “exit” and press Enter to close the “cmd.exe” window.

Note that completing the command prompt tasks involves a certain amount of technical awareness. Any wrong command line may result in data loss that may be unrecoverable. You should always backup your drives BEFORE conducting the DiskPart command. If you are not familiar with command prompts, then I recommend that you contact a professional for assistance.

5. Use Third-party Software

In my experience, using third-party software applications is more effective than self-directed attempts to fix this particular problem. While I have some technical acumen, I still stumble from time to time, and therefore, using a wizard-type application has always proven to be more effective for me. 

As I mentioned above, there are some good applications on the market that I do recommend. They include the more notable applications such as Norton AntiVirus and McAfee and a few of the lesser-known yet still effective applications such as ESET, Avast, Avira, and AVG.

Final Thoughts

The dreaded “SD card won’t format” error is an annoying and sometimes scary error message to receive. When you get this error message, it is important to follow precise steps to repair the error while trying to save your data from being lost. I highly recommend that you make it a normal part of your operating practice to back up your data often and regularly.

Have you experienced this error message before? If so, how did you address it? Share your thoughts here with us and ask any questions that you might have. I will respond to your questions as soon as I can.

Until next time, protect your data and enjoy your technology!

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