How to Recover Blank SD Card (Unsupported Filesystem Fix)

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recover blank sd card

SD cards are excellent storage devices, but prone to damage and corruption. Wear and tear and virus attacks can render your card unusable. If this is the case, you’ll see an error when you try to use the SD card.

We’re going to help you deal with one such error in this guide. If you’re getting an error that reads “SD card is blank or has unsupported file system,” we’ll help you regain access to the files on your SD card quickly and easily.

What Does “SD Card is Blank or Has Unsupported Filesystem” Mean?

The error means that your device is unable to read the files stored on the memory card or the SD card has become corrupted. You may encounter the “SD card is blank or has unsupported filesystem” error for several reasons. For instance, removing the SD card without ejecting it first, a virus attack, or physical damage.

Note that even though this error says the SD card is blank, you shouldn’t assume all your files have been deleted. You can still recover the files stored on the SD card, and that’s exactly what we’re going to help you with in the following section.

How to Recover Data from a Blank SD Card?

Blank SD card recovery isn’t a complicated process. When your phone says the SD card is blank, the problem may not actually be a blank SD card even though your Android phone says so. Your files are quite likely still on your SD card, so you can recover them using data recovery software.

While there are plenty of tools out there, choosing a smart recovery tool like Disk Drill is key to successfully recovering your files. If you haven’t used a data recovery tool before, we’ll walk you through a simple four-step process so you can recover your data within the next few minutes.

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill: Start your blank SD card recovery process by downloading Disk Drill. Launch the setup file once it downloads to install Disk Drill on your device. With the free version, you’ll be able to recover up to 500MB of data.

installing disk drill

Step 2. Insert SD card into your PC and launch Disk Drill: Insert your SD card into your PC using an SD card reader. Once your computer detects the SD card, launch Disk Drill and select your SD card from the list.selecting the sd cardStep 3. Start scanning the SD card: Once you select the SD card, you’ll see the list of options available in the right sidebar. By default, Disk Drill uses the “All recovery methods” option, which is also the recommended option. However, you can choose to perform a quick or thorough scan as well.

selecting the recovery method

After selecting the preferred method, click on the Search for lost data button to start the scan. As the scan progresses, Disk Drill will show you the files it finds on the SD card. You can also view the files while the scan is still in progress by clicking the Review found items button.

scanning the sd card

Step 4. Start SD card file recovery: You can start recovering the files as soon as Disk Drill finds them, or you can wait until the scan completes to recover all files. To start recovering files, select the files from the list by checking the box next to them, and click on the Recover button at the bottom.

click on the recover button

Step 5. Selecting a recovery location: Clicking the button will open a popup where you’ll need to enter the target location for recovering the files. Select a location that’s not on your SD card so you don’t end up overwriting data. Recovering the files to your SD card could result in overwriting, rendering one or more files irrecoverable.selecting recovery location

At this point, you should be able to access the recovered files in your target location. Now that you’ve recovered your files and stored them in a safe location, let’s fix your SD card so you can use it again.

How to Fix a Blank SD Card

Once you’ve recovered the files, you can try a few things to get your SD card working again. We’ll walk you through ways in which you can fix your blank SD card in order of preference.

Method 1: Insert SD Card Into a Different Device

A device may not be able to read your SD card for several reasons, for instance, an incompatible file system. To make sure this isn’t the case, try your card on other devices to see if the card works on them.

Method 2: Look for Hidden Files

The files on your SD card may not appear if they are hidden. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to view hidden files on your PC.

  1. Insert the SD card into a card reader connected with your PC.
  2. Navigate to your SD card using the file explorer on Windows and select the ellipsis icon at the top.
  3. Select Options.selecting options in file explorer
  4. Switch to the View tab in the Folder Options window.
  5. Select the radio button next to Show hidden files, folders, and drives and click OK.selecting view tab

Note: The illustrations are made using Windows 11. If you use a different operating system or version of Windows, the steps may slightly differ.

Method 3: Run Chkdsk Utility

If your SD card has filesystem errors or has bad sectors, your devices may have a hard time reading the SD card. The Chkdsk utility is a built-in Windows utility that you can use to fix filesystem errors or bad sectors caused by physical damage to get your SD card working again.

  1. Connect your SD card to your PC.
  2. Search for cmd in the Start Menu, select Command Prompt, and click on Run as administrator.selecting command prompt
  1. Run the following command:
    chkdsk F: /f

    Replace the letter F with the drive letter assigned to your SD card.

Let the utility complete the process. If it finds problems, it will try to fix them automatically.

Method 4: Format SD Card on PC

If none of the previous methods worked for you, you’ll need to format your SD card. A full SD card can also result in errors, and a format will help eliminate those errors right away.

Either way, formatting shouldn’t be a big problem once you’ve recovered all the files from your SD card. Follow these steps to format your SD card on your PC:

  1. Press Win + E to launch the file explorer and navigate to Computer.
  2. Find the SD card. Right-click on the SD card and select Format.format sd card on PC
  3. In the Format windows, select FAT32 as the file system if you want to use the SD card on your smartphone. Select NTFS if you plan on using the card only on Windows. Check the box next to Quick Format and click Start.starting the format process

Method 5: Format SD Card on Android

If the SD card is already on your smartphone, you don’t need to remove it. You don’t need a PC for formatting, you can do it with your phone too. You can fix an unsupported SD card without a computer using your Android device, though you won’t be able to change its filesystem.

We’ll walk you through how you can format your SD card on an Android device. However, note that the process may differ slightly based on the Android UI you’re using.

  1. Start by going to Settings on your phone and search for Storage.

selecting android storage option

  1. Within the storage settings section, you’ll see two sections—phone storage and SD card. Select SD card.selecting the sd card option
  2. Look for the format option and select it.selecting the format option
  3. When prompted, confirm the format.format sd card

Wrapping Up

In most cases, you’ll be able to recover the files on your SD card if you only recently started getting the “SD card is blank or has unsupported filesystem” error. Before you discard your SD card thinking the SD card went blank, consider using an SD card recovery tool and see if you can get the files back.

Sometimes, devices can’t read an unsupported SD card without formatting it to a compatible filesystem. Once you’ve recovered the files, you should try and format the SD card to a filesystem that’s compatible with all your devices.

Arjun is an Tech ninja, codes HTML and CSS, and has received an honorary mention as the family’s go-to tech help during get-togethers. He has been writing guides for about six years and he’s currently a contributor on major Tech websites like MakeUseOf, HelpDeskGeek and 7 Data Recovery.
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Senior Data Recovery Engineer. Master's degree in Physics, Information Technology for Science Experiments.