How to Recover Accidentally Formatted SD Card for Free

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Recover Formatted SD Card

Some users may see the word formatting as an intimidating technical term. In reality, formatting is simply a method of preparing a storage device, in our case an SD card, for use with a digital camera, mobile device, or computer. It’s a necessary step in making a storage device available for storing data.

How to Recover Files from a Formatted SD Card?

Before describing the methods with which you can recover data from a formatted SD card online, there is a very important point that needs to be made. Your best chance of recovering files from an SD card is directly related to the amount of use the card is subjected to after formatting and before recovery.

To eliminate the risk of losing your data for good, you need:

  • ⛔ Stop using the SD card as soon as it is formatted if you intend to attempt data recovery. If you have accidentally formatted an SD card, there is a very good chance that you can get all or most of the data back if you act quickly.
  • 📥 Remove the card from its device until you are ready to perform the data recovery.

Let’s look at some methods that you can use to recover data from a formatted SD card.

Method 1:Recover a Formatted SD Card Using Data Recovery Software

The most reliable method of recovering data from a formatted SD card is with data recovery software. Data recovery software repairs the logical links that were removed during formatting which makes the data accessible to the operating system and other applications.

Here are the steps to use on Windows and Mac systems to recover data from a formatted SD card with Disk Drill. We chose Disk Drill as it has superior recovery capabilities and offers users a simple and effective way of recovering their lost data. With Windows version you can recover up to 500Mb for free.

How to Recover Files on a Windows Computer

Follow these steps to recover files on Windows computers using Disk Drill data recovery software.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Windows on your machine. Since you are recovering data from an SD card, you can use your computer’s main hard drive for the download and installation.install disk drill on computer
  2. Connect the SD card to the machine through an internal or external card reader.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and choose the SD card from the app’s disk list.
    selecct formatted sd card
  4. Click the Search for lost data button to initiate the scan. search for lost data
  5. Preview the recovered files by clicking on the icon representing the type of file you are recovering. Found files are categorized as Pictures, Video, Audio, Documents, Archives, and Other files so you can quickly navigate to the type of file in which you are interested.preview files
  6. Select the files you want to recover and choose a safe location at which to store the recovered data that is not on the affected SD card. This prevents data corruption or overwriting during the recovery process. select and recover files
  7. Click the Recover button and let the software retrieve your files to the designated storage location.

How to Recover Files on a Mac Computer

Use the following procedure to recover deleted files on a Mac with Disk Drill data recovery software.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac. It’s safe to perform the download and installation on your Mac’s main disk since you are recovering data from an external storage device.
  2. Connect the SD card that has lost data to your Mac with a card reader or by attaching the camera or device that contains the card.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select the SD card that you will be recovering from the list of available devices.
    select sd card from list
  4. Click the Search for lost data button to initiate the scanning procedure. start the scan
  5. Preview the files found by Disk Drill by searching in the Scan Results which are categorized according to file type. Choose the files you want to recover and click on Recover button.
    filter and preview the files
  6. Designate a new storage location at which to save the files. Avoid using the original SD card or you risk overwriting the data you want to restore during the recovery process. Click Next. select the files for recovery
  7. The recovery procedure will complete and the selected files will be restored to your new storage location.
    SD-card successful recovery

Best Data Recovery Software to Recover Files from Formatted SD Card

Every data recovery software solution offers a slightly different approach and a set of features, but they can all help you recover data from a formatted SD card from the comfort of your home. Let’s take a closer look at the top 3 best data recovery software solutions to recover files from a formatted SD card that are currently available.

#1. Disk Drill

disk drill sd card recovery

Selecting any best solution is always difficult—except when it comes to data recovery. The release of the first version of Disk Drill in 2010 provided a welcome alternative to the clunky data recovery software applications that were available at the time.

Even today, Disk Drill still stands out with its unique one-click approach to data recovery. Instead of having to manually configure lots of different settings before you can even begin, you can simply click the Recover button and let Disk Drill take care of everything for you.

Its advanced data recovery algorithms are capable of reconstructing files in over 400 different file formats from a wide array of storage devices, including SD cards, USB flash drives, internal and external hard drives, and even Android and iOS smartphones.

Included in both Disk Drill for Mac and Disk Drill for Windows is a data protection feature called Recovery Vault, which runs as a background service and remembers all metadata and properties of deleted files to make their subsequent recovery easier.

Main features:

  • Capable of reconstructing files in over 400 different file formats.
  • Can recover data from a wide array of storage devices.
  • Makes it easy to preview recoverable data.
  • Provides enhanced data protection with its Recovery Vault feature.
  • Let’s you create a byte-by-byte disk image.

#2. Recuva


Developed by Piriform (the company behind CCleaner) and owned by Avast, Recuva is a simple but capable data recovery software application for Windows. Its free version can recover an unlimited amount of data from internal and external hard disk drives, memory cards, USB flash drives, portable music and video players, as well as other storage devices with a supported file system.

Recuva Pro adds virtual hard drive support, automatic updates, and premium customer support for $19.95, which is a fairly affordable price for a data recovery software application. You can also get Recuva Pro in a bundle with CCleaner Professional, Defraggler Professional, and Speccy Professional.

Just be careful when installing Recuva because it will try to install CCleaner as well. It’s also possible that Recuva will try to install Avast in the future because that’s exactly what CCleaner started doing after Avast acquired its developers.

Main features:

  • Affordable price.
  • Recovery Wizard.
  • Virtual hard drive support.

#3. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

Despite being first released in 2005, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard remains one of the most popular data recovery software applications currently available. It works on Windows and Mac and can recover 2 GB of data for free.

Just like Disk Drill, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard offers two main data recovery modes: Quick Scan and Deep Scan. Just like their names suggest, the former takes a shorter time to complete, while the latter needs more time because it carefully examines every sector of the scanned storage device.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard boasts the ability to recover corrupted photo and video files, including JPEG, JPG, MP4, and MOV. It can also recover most other common and not-so-common file formats and, in most cases, preview them before the actual recovery. Users of the paid version of this data recovery software application can take advantage of free remote assistance and let an EaseUS employee remotely recover formatted SD card free of charge on their behalf.

Main features:

  • Has been on the market for over 15 years.
  • Allows you to recover up to 2 GB of data for free.
  • Makes it easy to preview recoverable data.
  • Free 1-on-1 remote assistance with the Pro version.

Method 2:Recover Data from a Formatted SD Card with the Command Line on Windows

Windows users can try to recover an SD card after a format through the command line. Use the following steps to try this method of recovering your data.

To repair an SD card using CMD you need to:

  1. Open a command prompt by typing cmd in the Windows search box.
  2. Select Run as administrator.
  3. Type this command: chkdsk G: /f/x/r . Replace G with the drive letter of the formatted SD card.
    chkdsk command
  4. Hit Enter and let the process complete.

Method 3:Recover Data from a Formatted SD Card Using the Terminal App on Mac

  1. Open the Terminal application which is located in your Mac’s Utilities folder.
  2. Navigate to the SD card using the cd command in Terminal.
  3. Enter this command mv filename ../ replacing filename with the name of the file you wish to recover. Then hit Return.Recover files in mac terminal
  4. Type Quit to exit Terminal.
  5. Go to the previous folder and see if your file has been restored.

What Happens During SD Card Formatting?

When you format an SD card, you overwrite the current file structure with a new one. The files and folders that were previously visible on the card are no longer accessible after the card is reformatted. Most operating systems and devices offer the option to perform a Quick or Full format. The one you choose will impact your ability to recover files if you have inadvertently formatted the card before saving its contents to a safe location.

  • A Quick format just overlays a new filesystem on top of the data previously stored on the SD card. It does not physically erase the data but makes it available to be recovered with one of the methods we will discuss shortly. The logical links to the files and folders are removed, making the data inaccessible to the operating system, but the underlying data remains physically intact.
  • A Full format takes longer to perform and does attempt to remove all data from the SD card. Depending on the operating system, this may be done by overwriting the card to obscure the data that was stored on the device. It will be harder, if not impossible, to recover lost data from an SD card that has undergone a Full format.


Many people assume that learning how to recover files from a formatted SD card is just as difficult as deciphering the Enigma machine. In reality, SD card file recovery has been made simple thanks to modern data recovery software solutions like Disk Drill, which presents a very accessible one-click approach to data recovery. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this article, you should be able to get back all accidentally deleted files in no time, but you must act quickly and begin recovery before the files become overwritten.