SD cards offer plenty of storage space in a form factor that makes them perfect for smartphones and cameras, but their reliability is far from excellent. When using an SD card, it’s usually only a matter of time before it becomes corrupted and unreadable. Fortunately, there are several SD card repair tools that make it easy to fix SD card corruption without formatting. Listed below are five such tools, along with their key features and price.
Disk Drill is a feature-packed SD card repair tool capable of performing a full scan of a corrupted SD card and recovering all data from it with a few clicks. It supports all file systems that are typically used to format SD cards, including FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS.
Usually, Disk Drill can recognize even failing SD cards that are no longer readable by other applications and devices. Its powerful scanning algorithms can analyze the internal structure of corrupted SD cards and retrieve all damaged files.
Because Disk Drill considers ease of use to be of equal importance to performance, you don’t need to understand how SD cards work in order to recover corrupted data from them. All you need to do is download either the Windows or Mac version of Disk Drill, install it on your computer, and start the recovery process.
In addition to SD cards, Disk Drill can also recover data from hard drives, external hard drives, cameras, USB flash drives, and Kindles, making it a true jack of all trades (the Mac version of Disk Drill can also recover data from iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Android devices). Included with Disk Drill are several extra free disk tools that cover everything from data backup to disk health monitoring to data protection.
- Feature-packed SD card repair tool.
- Support for all commonly used file systems.
- Can recognize even failing SD cards.
- Easy to use.
- Works on Windows and Mac computers.
To recover files from a corrupted SD card with Disk Drill you need to:
- Install and launch Disk Drill.
- Connect the corrupted SD card to your computer. Use an external SD card reader if your computer doesn’t have an SD card slot.
- Select the SD card and click Search for lost data.
- Select the files you want to restore.
- Click the Recover button and select a destination folder.
Price: $89.00 for Disk Drill PRO
Called SanDisk RescuePRO, the purpose of this data recovery tool is to recover images, videos, documents, and other files from SanDisk memory cards.
There are three versions of SanDisk RescuePRO. The Standard version can recover data from up to 256 GB large SD cards, and it supports the most common file formats. The Deluxe version supports up to 1 TB large SD cards and additional file formats. Finally, the Deluxe Commercial version offers the same features as the regular Deluxe version, but it can be used for commercial purposes.
Included in SanDisk RescuePRO is a useful SD card imaging utility that you can use to create an image of your SD card for recovery at a later time.
- Supports up to 1 TB large SD cards.
- Officially endorsed by SanDisk.
- Recovers all commonly used RAW image file formats.
Price: $39.99 for RescuePRO Standard and $59.99 for RescuePRO Deluxe
EaseUS Partition Master is a popular partitioning software that can recover deleted or lost partitions on unallocated disk space. You can also use it to create a new partition, format an existing one, or clone your entire SD card to another storage device for backup or recovery purposes.
This SD card repair software can diagnose and fix errors on selected partitions, allowing you to deal with SD card corruption at the onset. EaseUS Partition Master is straightforward to use and intended for everyone from home users to businesses, and it runs on 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.
Unfortunately, free users get only a small taste of what it can do. To unlock partition recovery, intelligent partition adjustment, and many other essential features of this SD card repair software, you must purchase the Professional or Server version.
- Simple partition recovery.
- Straightforward to use.
- Basic features are available for free.
Price: $39.95 for the Professional version or $259.00 for the Server version.
Recoverit by Wondershare is a versatile data recovery software with micro SD, CF, and SDHC card recovery capabilities. It can recover files from lost, deleted, RAW, or inaccessible partitions using its Quick and Deep Scan algorithms.
When recovering files from a large SD card, you’ll appreciate the option to pause the scan and recover any files that have already been located by the software. You can preview all files to ensure that you’re recovering what you actually want to recover.
Thanks to its advanced video recovery and repair capabilities, Recoverit by Wondershare is especially well suited for videographers who need to recover corrupted video files from an SD card. Recoverable files can be previewed for free, but unlimited recovery and the aforementioned advanced video recovery and repair capabilities are available only to paying customers.
- Advanced video recovery and repair capabilities.
- Ability to preview recoverable files for free.
- Recovers all kinds of data and from various storage devices.
Price: $59.95 for the cheapest unlimited version.
This micro SD card repair software offers professional-grade data recovery capabilities and the ability to easily handle all types of data loss situations, including drive formatting, file system corruption, file deletion, and more.
In addition to micro SD cards, Stellar Recovery can also get back your data from regular SD cards, CF cards, hard drives, optical media, and USB flash drives. If you want to be extra safe when using it to fix a corrupted SD card and recover files from it, you can use its disk imaging feature to create a complete backup.
The Premium version of Stellar Recovery boasts the ability to repair corrupted and distorted photos and videos, but it costs considerably more than the Professional version.
- Handles all types of data loss situations.
- Can recover data from all memory cards.
- Ability to repair corrupted and distorted photos and videos.
Price: $79.99 for the Professional version and $99.99 for the Premium version.
What Causes SD Card Corruption?
SD card corruption is a widespread issue because its causes are numerous. Knowing what causes SD card corruption is the first step in avoiding it and preventing your data from becoming inaccessible.
Most cases of SD card corruption are caused by improper use. For example, you should never remove an SD card while files are still being transferred to/from it. To be extra safe, turn off the device the SD card is connected to first and then remove it. It’s also a good idea to avoid allowing your SD card to run out of available storage space before moving files from it.
Viruses and Malware
Viruses and malware can cause SD card corruption even when they’re not designed to do so. In an effort to spread to every connected device, they sometimes forcibly enter an SD card while it’s in use, causing other applications to fail unexpectedly. There are also strains of malware capable of scrambling the entire content of an SD card using a strong encryption algorithm to make it inaccessible without the correct decryption key, which is often sold by their creators for a hefty price.
For such high-capacity storage devices, SD cards can be surprisingly easily damaged. The thin plastic shell tends to chip after just a few dozen insertions, and bending it in half (and irreparably damaging the tiny flash memory chips inside) doesn’t require much force at all. While SD cards can’t be easily damaged by magnets, a strong-enough electrostatic discharge could whack electrons inside the flash chips out of place and cause data corruption.
There are many different SD card manufacturers, some producing highly reliable SD cards that target professional users, and others producing budget SD cards of questionable reliability. You may even stumble upon counterfeit SD cards that have been manufactured using flash memory chips that have been discarded by other manufacturers for being defective.
All SD cards have a limited number of write/erase cycles because they rely on electrons passing through a very thin insulating silicon oxide barrier. Over time, electrons can become trapped inside this barrier and interfere with other electrons that are trying to pass through it. Once large enough charge is trapped, the particular flash memory cell can become unwritable/unreadable. This can happen in just a few months, but it can also happen after 10 or more years. It all depends on how much you use your SD card.
Avoid SD Card Corruption with These Tips
You can avoid SD card corruption by following the tips below:
- Never remove your SD card while files are still being transferred to/from it.
- Turn off your device or eject the SD card before removing it.
- Avoid SD cards from brands with no reputation.
- Don’t purchase heavily discounted SD cards from unauthorized sellers—they’re most likely fake.
- Move files from your SD card before you run out of available storage space.
- Don’t use the same SD card in multiple devices without formatting it before each use.
- Keep your SD card away from heat, moisture, and electrostatic discharges.
- Look out for early signs of data corruption, such as poor performance and read/write errors.
- Avoid using very old SD cards (10+ years) for important applications.
- Never interrupt the SD card formatting process before it completely finishes.
Did You Know?
The industry standards for SD memory cards are developed by the SD Association (SDA), an American non-profit organization formed in January 2000 by Panasonic Corporation, SanDisk LLC, and Toshiba Corporation. SDA currently has around 900 members, who are organized in committees and working groups to define the next generation of SD cards.