Formatting is often regarded as the solution to fix many problems relating to SD cards and other forms of storage media. After all, it’s basically a factory reset for your SD card. But, what are you supposed to do if the process of formatting is what’s giving you grief?
If your SD card won’t format, there are a few telling signs that could point towards why this is happening. In this article, we’ll look at the causes and fixes behind why your SD card won’t format.
What Prevents an SD Card From Being Formatted
Before we discuss how to fix your SD card, let’s look at a few reasons why Windows can’t format the SD card all the time:
- ✂️ Logical corruption – Severe corruption can manifest itself in many ways. One such possibility is that your SD card is so corrupted that the standard process of formatting just won’t cut it.
- 🦠 Virus infection – Malware can do a number of devious things to your SD card. If your SD card has been infected with a virus, it can prevent you from performing certain actions, like formatting.
- 📂 File system error – File system errors can appear as a result of improper device removal. Removing your device before ejecting safely can cause the file system to become damaged, resulting in the SD card not working properly.
- 💾 Faulty hardware – If your SD card has been physically damaged, it may prevent you from formatting it. The same is true for a faulty SD card reader or SD card slot. Consider testing the card in another reader to confirm.
Now that you’re aware of the causes behind an SD card failing to format, the next section will show you how you can recover your data from the SD card to ensure it’s protected when we finally get to fixing it.
How To Recover Data From an SD Card That Won’t Format
If you’re unable to format the SD card, chances are it’s in a vulnerable state. Therefore, before you implement a fix, you should recover what data you can from the SD card to avoid accidentally deleting it.
Disk Drill is a data recovery tool that we’ll use to make a copy of the SD card’s contents for recovery. Recovering data from a copy of the SD card further reduces the chances of data loss, as you won’t be working on the actual card.
How To Fix an SD Card That Won’t Format
Now that your data is safe and sound, let’s look at various solutions you can use to fix your SD card that won’t format.
Try Another Computer or Device
As soon as your data is safe, the first thing you should do is isolate the problem. When Windows can’t format an SD card, there’s no indication whether the problem resides with the SD card, the SD card slot, or the computer itself.
Try formatting the SD card in another device to see if the problem persists. For instance, if your camera won’t format the SD card, maybe you’ll have more luck doing it on a computer or mobile device. This way, you can quickly confirm where the problem resides.
Unlock Write Protection
It’s common for SD cards to include a write-lock switch on the side. When enabled, this switch prevents any write actions from being performed on the card to protect it from things like accidental deletion. Therefore, you should remove SD card write protection by ensuring the switch is in the up position instead of down.
Since formatting the SD card involves writing a new file system (or refreshing the existing one), make sure this lock is disabled to complete formatting.
Change the Drive Letter
Windows has always worked with drive letters. It may seem unusual, but changing the existing drive letter attached to your SD card has a chance of fixing your problem. The same is true if a drive letter hasn’t been assigned to your SD card automatically.
Follow these steps to change or add a drive letter to your SD card:
Fix With CheckDisk
If Windows continues to tell you that your SD card cannot be formatted, it’s time to try fixing the file system associated with it. A damaged file system can cause a number of problems, and fixing it using CheckDisk may be enough to get it sorted.
Here’s how you can use CheckDisk to repair your SD card’s file system:
Scan and Remove Viruses
Viruses are always a huge pain to deal with. If your SD card has been unfortunate enough to contract a virus, you need to scan and remove the virus to restore proper functionality.
These steps will show you how to scan for viruses using Windows Defender:
Clean SD Card With Diskpart
Finally, if Windows was still unable to format the SD card, you can run the clean command on your SD card using Diskpart. The clean command goes across every sector of the SD card and replaces it with zeros, essentially deleting all data on the card.
Here’s how you can clean your SD card using Diskpart:
- Right-click Start and select Windows PowerShell (Admin).
- Type diskpart and press Enter.
- Type list disk. Note the disk number associated with your SD card.
- Type select disk 0. Replace the 0 with your disk number and press Enter.
- Type clean all and press Enter.