You insert your SD card into a card reader, prepare to look at your photos and videos, then suddenly your SD card is asking to format. This message often indicates the SD card has sustained some form of damage that’s preventing it from being accessed, like corruption.
Worry not. This article includes a useful method on how to recover data from an SD card without formatting, as well as some useful solutions for actually fixing your SD card so you can use it again.
Why SD Card Formatting Is Important
Before an SD card can be used, it first needs to be formatted with a file system. Over time, your SD card may suffer from logical damage like corruption. Corruption can cause your file system to break down and prevent you from accessing your files. In many cases, this results in various messages stating that your SD card wants to format when you connect it.
When you format an SD card, it will mark any unusable areas like bad sectors as hidden so no files can be written to them, but it will also delete all of your data in the process. While formatting is a solution to many problems, some users may not want to do it out of fear of losing their files.
Thankfully, you can recover your data before you implement any fixes. Follow the steps in the next section to get your data back so you can work towards fixing your SD card.
How to Recover Data From a Memory Card Without Formatting
Before attempting to fix your SD card without reformatting, you should recover what data you have on the card in case anything goes wrong and the data is permanently deleted or overwritten.
To recover SD card data without a format, we’ll be using Disk Drill. Disk Drill is an effective data recovery tool that can scan your hard drive for any recoverable data and recover it to a folder of your choice. It doesn’t just work with SD cards, you can also recover data from external hard drives and USB flash drives using the same steps.
Before starting, connect your SD card. If Windows prompts you to format, dismiss the window by clicking Cancel. These instructions will help you understand how to recover data from corrupted memory card without formatting:
When the recovery is finished, you’ll find all of the recovered data inside the folder you specified. Take this opportunity to make copies of the data for safekeeping before moving onto the next section that involves fixing the SD card.
6 Ways to Fix Corrupted SD Card Without Formatting
The methods outlined below will allow you to repair your corrupted memory card without formatting. Be sure to start with the first method and work your way down to ensure you don’t miss any steps.
Try Another SD Card Reader or USB Port
Before attempting to fix anything, you must first understand where the problem originates. The problem may not be with your SD card, but instead with the SD card reader or USB port you’re using. Try the following steps to isolate the cause:
Add or Change the Drive Letter
When a storage device is connected to your computer, Windows automatically assigns a drive letter. If the assigned drive letter conflicts with another device that already has that drive letter, problems can arise as Windows doesn’t know which device the drive letter actually belongs to. Moreover, if no drive letter is assigned, your SD card may not show as accessible at all.
Adding a drive letter or changing the existing one can fix this. Follow these simple steps:
CheckDisk is a utility inside Windows that can scan your storage media for file system-related issues and fix them based on the parameters that you use. The parameters we’ll be using will not only scan for problems, but also fix the SD card without formatting.
The parameter we’ll be using is /r, which not only scans for and fixes errors, but also locates bad sectors. Follow these steps:
Every device you connect to your computer requires drivers to function properly. The drivers are designed to establish communication between the device you connect and your operating system. If they’re outdated, corrupted, or missing, you won’t be able to use or access your SD card correctly.
These steps will guide you through updating your drivers or reinstalling them if they’re corrupted or missing:
Windows Repair Tool
You can use the error checking tool to scan any internal or attached storage media for immediate problems. It actually uses the CheckDisk command we used earlier, but using an interface rather than a terminal.
Use the steps to scan your SD card for errors:
In some cases, your SD card may be inaccessible because it’s marked as read-only. When in read-only mode, you cannot write new data to the SD card or edit the existing data. The only way to fix this is by removing the read-only attribute. This can be done using DiskPart, a command-line utility in Windows.
Follow these steps to remove the read-only attribute from the SD card using DiskPart: