If you want to avoid losing data, paying attention to the health of your SD cards is important. You can run a check for this from the Windows file explorer, using CHKDSK from the command prompt, or with free programs like H2TestW.
I’m Caleb, and taking care of my storage devices is a relevant skill for me, as I’m a photographer with thousands of pictures stored on devices like external hard drives and SD cards.
In this article, I’ll break down some simple ways you can check your SD cards for problems like bad sectors, using either Windows built-in programs, or free ones that you can download quickly and easily.
If you’re wondering if it’s time to replace one of your SD cards, read ahead for the ways to know for sure.
4 Ways to Check SD Card Health on Windows
While there are plenty of programs out there claiming they can check your SD card’s health for you, I don’t think you need to pay for software to find out the condition of your SD card. I’ve compiled a list of free methods, and that you can easily perform yourself.
Also, while I’ll be referring to the storage device in this article as an SD card, the following methods work with similar devices such as MicroSD and MiniSD cards. With that out of the way, let’s get into the methods.
1. Check Health from “Properties” Tab
Windows comes with a built-in method to check the health of devices like SD cards. You can access it easily from the file explorer, and the properties window for your SD card.
Open the file explorer, and then look for the right drive letter for the SD card. Right-click on it and select Properties to bring up the window you’ll need. From there, switch to the Tools tab and run the Check option under Error checking.
Your system will run a scan and look for potential problems like bad sectors, as well as try to correct them if possible.
2. Use CHKDSK from Command Line
There’s also a method to fix SD cards and other drives using the CHKDSK tool, from the Windows command line. To get to the command line, enter cmd into the search box and run the Command Prompt program as an administrator.
Then, figure out the drive letter of the SD card you want to fix, as you’ll need it for the following command. In my case, I’ll enter chkdsk H: /f, but you can replace H with whatever the drive letter of your SD card is.
The /f part of the command is what tells CHKDSK to fix the errors. The results of the scan may come back quickly, or might take a while to show up, depending on the size of the SD card and how much data is already on it.
Once the scan is done, you’ll see whether any errors were found, and the program will attempt to resolve them if there are any.
3. Examine SD Card With H2TestW
Not all SD cards are what they say on the label. Sometimes, they’re sold with fake specs and might have far less storage space than advertised. This isn’t a problem with brand names like SanDisk, but can happen if you buy generic SD cards online.
H2TestW is a free tool that lets you check for this kind of deception, while also discovering bad sectors on the SD card. To use it, you should begin by downloading the program from the H2TestW website, for free.
From there, extract the program’s .exe file to somewhere on your computer and run it. Using the Select Target button, pick your SD card’s drive letter (for example, G: or H:), and make sure All available space is selected. Then, press Write + Verify and wait.
Keep in mind that this will write over anything currently on the card. The results of the test will tell you if your SD card has any damage or corruption, as well as reveal the true amount of storage space.
4. Physically Check the SD Card
Finally, if you’re having some problems with your SD card, but none of the methods here have revealed any insights, you may want to give the card a physical inspection. It might also be useful to inspect the SD card slot of your device.
If the golden contacts on the back of your SD card are dirty, or the slot itself, the SD card might fail to function properly.
You can clean them off using a cotton swab and 99% isopropyl alcohol. Be sure to use alcohol that is this pure or more, as lower concentrations are too diluted with water to safely use with electronics.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about SD card health.
How Can I Test the Quality of an SD Card?
One way to test if your SD card meets the specs it was sold under is to use H2TestW, a diagnostic program meant to verify the size of SD cards as well as show their true write speed.
How Do I Know If My SD Card Is Bad?
Something might be wrong with your SD card if it isn’t recognized by devices if you run into errors while transferring files, or if you can’t open the files stored on the card.
Do SD Cards Last 20 Years?
No. While some SD cards may last longer than others, the average SD card is designed for about 10 years of use.
In short, you don’t need to pay for software to check the health of your SD cards. You can do it with built-in Windows tools such as CHKDSK, as well as free tools like H2TestW.
Has this helped you find any problems in your SD cards? Let us know in the comments!