SD Card

Table of Contents

This page will introduce solutions for different problems on SD memory card, micro SD card, SDHC and SDXC with useful tips for choosing a proper SD memory card for different digital devise and memory card maintenance.

Part 1 - Common SD Memory Card Problems

During the daily usage of SD memory card in different digital devices, you may encounter various kinds of SD card issues. Here are some common SD card problems:

1. SD Memory Card Is Not Formatted, RAW, 0 Byte

SD card says it is not formatted? You might receive this alert message  saying memory card is not formatting on your phone or computer. Viewing the Properties of an unformatted SD card on PC, you will find that the SD card turns to RAW file system and has 0 byte space.

To fix not formatted error on an SD memory card, micro SD, SDHC or SDXC, you can use following methods:

Method1: Format SD memory card in phone or computer

You can format SD card to resolve the not formatted problem with following methods:

  • Format the SD memory card directly on your phone ==>

Run "Settings" App on Android > select "Storage" > select "Format SD Card"

  • Format SD memory card on Windows computer ==>

Attach SD card to PC and it will show as RAW disk in Windows Explorer (Or open "Disk Management" on computer) > Right click SD card in Windows Explorer (or Disk Management) and select "Format" option > Select "Quick Format" > select "Start" to complete the format (You can also full format the RAW SD card without select "Quick Format" option.

  • Format SD memory card with CMD ==>

Run CMD on Windows > type "list disk" > type "select disk x" (x is the disk number of SD card) > type "clean" > type "create partition primary" > type "active" > type "format fs=fat32 label= volume label quick"
Volume label refers to the label of the SD card showing on computer. You can see the volume label by viewing the Properties of SD card on PC.

  • Format SD card with format tool ==>

You can also use some format tool searching online to format the unformatted RAW SD card.

Method2: Run CHKDSK for RAW SD memory card

You can run CHKDSK and type "chkdsk x: /r" command to scan and repair errors on RAW SD card (x: is the drive letter of SD card)

Recommend: Fix disk drive not formatted error>>

2. Windows Was Unable to Complete Format SD / MicroSD / SDHC / SDXC

You run into this problem usually when you attempt to reformat an unformatted SD memory card on Windows computer. If PC says it cannot complete the format after trying all methods you know, you can try following methods to resolve the problem:

Step1. Go the Disk Management and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths" to assign a new drive letter to the RAW SD card.

Step2. Try again to reformat the RAW SD memory card with any method you know.

Step3. Still cannot format SD memory card on Windows computer? Now, you can remove the SD card safely from PC and reinsert it to your phone. Usually, phone will pop up a message saying SD card is corrupted and needs to be formatted. Just confirm to format it to see if the format can be completed.

Please visit another article – Windows is not able to complete the format>>

3. CHKDSK Is Not Available for RAW SD Memory Card

You can launch CHKDSK command to scan and fix some common errors like bad sectors on internal hard drive or removable disk on Windows PC, but sometimes CHKDSK will fail to help fix a RAW SD memory card.

For this problem, you can try following solutions:

Solution1: Reformat the SD memory card before running CHKDSK command.

Solution2: Run Windows built in error-check tool instead of CHKDSK command to fix the problem.

Solution3: Run CHKDSK from "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" by rebooting your computer and then fix the issues.

Solution4: Check if there is system problem on your computer. Sometimes, system issue cause the problem, so you can also connect the SD card to another computer and run CHKDSK again to scan and repair the problem.

Another page introduces the reasons and solutions in details – CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives>>

4. SD Card Storage Volume Fault

Sometimes, SD card shows wrong capacity if you bought a fake SD card. For instance, salesman told you that the SD card has 64GB capacity, but it shows only 32 or 16GB capacity when you insert it to your computer or mobile phone. We usually call such kinds of card Expansion Card. An Expansion SD memory card would ask to be formatted when you want to use it for data storage. You can format it directly to resolve the problem. If the SD card is unable to be formatted, you can go back to the second problem on this page and find the solution.

In addition, SD card may also show incorrect capacity when the card is infected with virus or corrupted due to other reasons. In this situation, you can also reformat the card back to its full capacity.

Recommend: SD card saying wrong capacity>>

5. SD Memory Card / SDHC / SDXC Is Not Recognized

SD memory card is not detected by your phone, camera or computer? Bad news! This is a problem occurs in many cases.

Android Phone / Camera Says Please Insert New Micro SD Card or Not Found SD Card
Although you are sure that the SD card is inserted properly in your phone or camera, but it still keeps saying that you need to insert a new card (please insert memory card) or it reports not found SD card.  In general, you will get following message when insert an SD card in your phone or camera:

If you meet this problem on your phone or camera, please have a try with following methods:

  • Method1: Reformat micro SD card
  • Method2: Restore your phone back to factory settings

PC Cannot Detect SD, Micro SD, SDHC, SDXC

SD card is not showing up in computer? Or PC says there is no memory card please insert new one? Following methods can be used to fix the problem:

Method1: Format SD memory card under Disk Management if it does not show in Windows Explorer.

Method2: Update the driver to make sure it can be compatible with the SD. You need to install proper driver for different types of SD card because there is some difference among standard SD, micro SD, SDHC and SDXC. For example, an SD card has capacity less than 2GB, while an SDHC card has capacity larger than 4GB. The PC with low-version of driver that can recognize an SD memory card might fail to recognize an SDHC card.

Whenever any type of SD card is not recognized by phone, camera or computer, it is necessary to check following things before use any method to fix the problem:

  • Reconnect with other computer USB ports or other computer to eliminate the bad USB port problem
  • Plug SD to computer with other card readers or adaptors

Recommend: SDHC Is Not Recognized>>

6. SD Memory Card Is Blank or Has Unsupported File System

SD card shows blank or has unsupported file system though there are lots of files inside? When you get this message on phone, the SD card will show as unknown or RAW device after connecting to your computer. Please use following methods to resolve the problem when SD, SDHC, SDXC, micro SD, etc shows blank with unsupported file system:

Mehtod1: Reboot your smartphone or reinsert the SD memory card.

Sometimes, the problem can be resolved by simply restarting your mobile phone or reinserting the SD card when the problem occurs because of a loose connection.

Method2: Connect the SD memory card to Windows and show hidden files.

Open "My Computer" > select "Tools" tab > select "Folder Options" > select "Show hidden files and folders" under "View" tab

This is the path to show hidden files on Windows XP. The method is similar on other Windows platforms.

Method3: Run CHKDSK for SD

Run CHKDSK and type "chkdsk x: /r" (x: refers to the SD card drive letter) to scan and repair the SD card.

Method4: Format SD card

If the problem still exists, just go ahead to format the SD card to proper file system. You must format the SD card to proper file system in order to use it normally. For example, today’s SD card is usually formatted to FAT32 file system which can be recognized Android, camera and computer. If you format it to NTFS or FAT16, phone or camera might say the SD card has unsupported file system and cannot show any file on it.

Please read back to the beginning of this article, which shares all methods on how to format an SD card.

Method5: Use SD memory card repair tool

You can find many memory card fix tools online. If all methods above failed to fix the SD memory card, you can try a reliable card repair program to fix the card.

7. I/O Device Error on SD Memory Card

I/O device error message might appear when you attempt to open an SD memory card or copy, delete, move files from the card. Usually, the error message says "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error."

Below are some common ways to fix I/O device error on different SD card:

Method1: Reconnect SD card or restart computer to check the connection and USB ports

Method2: Change drive letter for the SD card

Method3: Install or update the drivers to make sure it is compatible with the SD card

Method4: Run CHKDSK or error-checking tool on Windows to scan and repair the SD memory card.

Method5: Format the SD card
Recommend: For details about each method, please refer to – How to fix I/O device error>>

8. SD SDHC SDXC Micro SD Card Is Write Protected or Encrypted

You are only allowed to read files from an SD memory card which is write protected. Any other operations like deleting, moving, writing, formatting, copying, cutting, editing, etc are not allowed to a write-protected SD memory card.

It would report message saying "The disk is write protected" when you want to copy, delete or do some other modifies to the SD card that is write protected.

This problem might result from improper handing or card corruption. Following methods are available for the problem:

Method1: Check the write-protection of SD card to see if it slides down to write-protection.

Method2: If SD card is still write protected after turning off the write-protection switch, you can run antivirus software to scan the SD card to see if it is infected by virus.

Method3: Reset the computer registry by following Type "regedit" in "Run" and press Enter > locate the following path
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Control/StorageDevicePoliciesA > find "Write Protection" option > double click "Write Protection" option to set the value to "0".

Method4: Format write-protected SD card from CMD by following: Run CMD command on your computer > type "Format X:" (X: is drive letter of SD card) and press "Enter" button
Method 5: Use third-party tool to remove write protection on SD card.

Recommend: How to remove write protection>>

If SD card is encrypted or locked, you need to type correct password or use a tool to decrypt. If you have never set a password to the SD card but it still asks you to enter password, probably your SD card is infected with virus.

9. SD Card Not Enough Storage Space but It Only Contains Several Folders or Files

Sometimes, you only store several folders or files on your SD memory card, but it says SD card is full when you attempt to write new data to it. The SD card keeps showing full or saying not enough space even after erasing all files on the card? Usually, you may get alerting like "Insufficient storage available" or "There is not enough available storage".

If so, the SD card might be attacked by virus or it gets corrupted.

Here is guide for you to resolve the problem:

Step1. Reboot your phone to see if SD card can show normally.
Step2. If SD card still says full, please move all visible data you need to another device.
Step3. Find "Storage" on Android phone and format the SD card, or format the card by inserting to your computer through a card reader.
Step4. Run anti-virus program to check if there is virus or spyware on the SD card. In most of case, virus or malware is not visible, but it occupies a large amount of capacity on your SD card. Your SD card will show normally after removing all viruses and spyware.
Step5. Restore to factory settings.

10. All Files Turn to Shortcuts on SD/Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC

All or a part of files stored on SD, micro SD, SDXC, SDHC turn to shortcuts and become inaccessible? This problem is often caused by virus infection. Therefore, checking and removing virus offer the best solution for the problem.

Method1: Connect the memory card to PC and set to show hidden files to see if all data has been hidden by virus. Sometimes, virus could hide all data on your SD card and only show shortcuts to make you believe that all data has been corrupted or lost.

In the above paragraph, we have shared how to show hidden files from Windows Explorer. Here, we introduce another method to show hidden files from CMD: Run CMD and type "attrib -h -r -s /s h:\*.* " (g is the drive letter of SD card)

After typing the command, you can open your SD card again and you will see that all hidden files would show normally on your card.

After showing all hidden files, you had better move them to another drive.

Method2: Use a good antivirus tool to scan the SD memory card. You can find a lot of such kind of tools online. Only one thing you should be noticed when selecting an antivirus tool, namely you must choose a reliable one in case of further virus infection or hurt to your memory card.

Recommend: Memory card shows shortcuts>>

11. File or Directory Is Corrupted and Unreadable SD Card

SD card says "The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable" without allowing you to access it? As the alert message shows, the file or directory is corrupted, so you are not able to open the SD memory card for viewing or writing any file. To access the card successfully when receiving the error message, you have following choices:

Method1: Check and fix bad sectors on the SD memory card by attaching to computer with Windows built in error-checking tool or using CMD.

Method2: Go to Disk Management to change drive letter for the corrupted SD memory card.

Method3: Format SD memory card from Windows Explorer, Disk Management, CMD, etc.

Recommend: The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable>>

12. SD Card Virus Infection

Virus infection is a common problem for SD memory card, which would cause lots of trouble to the card or data. All common problems mentioned above can be caused due to SD card virus infection.

An SD card might be attacked by virus in following situations:

  • You save some files that has been infected with virus to SD card
  • You connect an SD memory card to virus-infected mobile phone, tablet or computer, etc
  • You open unsafe emails, links or sites on your smartphone which has SD card being inserted
  • Your phone or PC was hacked by strangers, after which you attach the SD card to it

When SD card virus has caused similar problems mentioned above, you can refer to solution for each problem to fix it properly. To remove virus completely from an SD card, you may use an antivirus program to complete scan the SD card on your phone or computer. And finally, you can reformat the SD card.

Move all data to another storage device before running antivirus software. Sometimes, antivirus software might remove folders or files on your SD card unexpectedly.

13. SD Memory Card Becomes Slow

Usually, the speed of a memory card is based on its class rating. What is class rating? We will introduce it later. However, whatever the class rating a memory card has, it does not take a long time to write or read data from it. If your SD memory card runs more slowly than before, probably the SD card has logical failure due to virus infection or it has too many bad sectors.

For this problem, you can transfer all data from the SD memory card to another media and then perform a complete format on the card, after which the memory card would run normally again.

If a card keeps running slowly even after reformatting, it indicates that the card is at a risk of physical damage.

14. SD Card Is Physically Damaged

SD card error can be logical failures and physical damage. When a memory card is still recognized by your phone, camera or computer but reports different error messages, we say the SD card is logical corrupted. You can use some method or software to repair the problem. However, when an SD memory card is logical damaged, you usually cannot fix it unless send it to its manufacturers. In following situations, the memory card is usually considered to be physically damaged and you had better replace it with a new one:

1. SD card suffers from water damage or fire damage
2. The SD, microSD, SDHC, SDXC is damaged into pieces
3. The memory card chip is damaged
4. SD card does not work on any device after trying all methods mentioned above

It is not difficult to recognize a physically damaged memory card. When any type of memory card is physically damaged and stops working, you had better send it to manufacturer to repair it if it is still under warranty or buy a new one if it take more money to repair a damaged card.
Below, we will introduce how to select a proper memory card for your mobile phone or digital camera.

Part 3 - How to Select the Best SD Memory Card for Android / Camera?

About SD Card

SD card is short for Secure Digital card, which is a type of flash memory card. SD card is widely used in various portable devices such as digital camera, mobile phone, PDA, handheld consoles, media player, GPS navigation devices and tablet computers and more. SD card has the features of high capacity, good performance and security, etc, so it has become one of the most commonly used memory card among different people.

Since SD card can be used for various types of devices, it is important to select a proper one when you need to use it in different devices.

What is the best SD card for an Aroid phone or digital camera? Well, the proper one is the best one. Today, there are various kinds of SD memory cards. You should notice following points when selecting an SD card for your mobile phone or camera:

1. SD Card Compatibility

There are three different types of SD memory cards which have different sizes. When selecting an SD card for different devices, you need to select the right size of card so that it can be compatible with your devices.

Basic information about 3 size of SD card:

SD card – An SD card usually has size 32mm x 24mm x 2.1mm. It can be Standard SD card, SDHC and SDXC, which is compatible with digital camera, desktop/laptop, mobile phone, PDAs, camcorders, etc.

Micro SD – Micro SD card has the smallest size about 15mm x 11mm x 1.0mm, which can be compatible with smartphone, media players, MP3 player and tablets, etc.

Mini SD – It has the size 21.5mm x 20mm x 1.4mm, which is able to work on cellphone, PDA and computer.

2. SD Card Capacities

SD card capacity refers to the storage capacity it has. A standard SD card usually has less than 2GB capacity, while an SDHC has 2 – 32GB capacity and an SDXC has capacity of 2TB. When you buy an SD card, you can select one that has proper capacity to meet your demand for data storage.

3. SD Card Data Writing Speed

On an SD memory card, it notes the speed of the card (e.g. 30MB/s). Or you can know its speed with its "Class" information. On each memory card, it notes the term like Class 0, 2, 4, 6, 10, etc. It stands the speed of the SD memory card.

Speed Class Rating:

Class 0 – NO speed rating.
Class 4 – 4MB/s
Class 6 – 6MB/s
Class 8 – 8MB/s
Class 10 – 10MB/s

Speed UHS Rating:
U1 – 10MB/s
U3 – 30MB/s

Video Speed Class

V6 – 6 MB/s
V10 – 10MB/s
V30 – 30MB/s
V60 – 60MB/s
V90 – 90MB/s

4. SD Card Brands and Prices

A branded SD memory card that has good reputation is also very important. If you buy a generic SD card, there is no quality guarantee. Some popular brands of SD memory card include SanDisk, Kingston, Lexar, Transcend, Toshiba, Samsung, etc.

Part 3 - Tips for SD Memory Card Maintenance

1. View and edit files by attaching SD card to computer

If you have lots of pictures and videos on an SD card, you had better connect it to your computer properly when you want to transfer or edit large quantities of files. It will be much better if you can copy all photos to your computer and modify them on PC. If you edit or modify images directly stored on your SD memory card, the files might become inaccessible sometimes.

2. Use card reader instead of USB cable for SD card connection

When inserting SD card to any PC, it is highly recommended to use a proper card reader instead of USB cable. Long time connecting SD card via a USB cable might drain the battery of camera or cause card corruption if the USB cable is disconnected during data transferring process.

3. Remove SD card from camera when it is out of use

After taking photos with your digital camera, you had better remove the SD card rather than keeping it being inserted in the camera for a long time. Put the card in a safe place such as card wallet to protect it from suffering physical damage.

4. Remove SD memory card safely

Whenever you want to remove an SD card out of your phone, camera or computer, etc, you should remove it safely using "Safely Remove Hardware" option on Windows instead of eject it directly in data transferring or writing process. Or you should turn off the camera or phone firstly before removing the card.

5. Stop using SD memory card when camera / phone has low battery or card gets full

If digital camera or mobile phone has low battery, you should stop using the SD memory card for data storage. It might corrupt the SD memory card if it is still in use when sudden power off of camera or phone. In addition, when SD memory card is nearly full, you had better stop writing new data to it before deleting or moving some data to other place.

6. Format SD card in your phone or camera you want to use

If you want to format an SD memory card due to any reason, please format it in the device you want to use. For example, if you want to use the SD card for your Canon digital camera, you had better perform format by inserting the SD card properly in your Canon camera. Do not format the card in one device but use it in another device.

Part 4 - How to Protect Private Data on SD Memory Card?

You may store some important data on your SD memory card. Then, how can you protect the private data when the SD card is corrupted or missing?

1. Backup SD card
For any precious data, the best way to protect it is to make a backup before it gets lost. You can use another storage media or use some backup utility to backup SD memory card.

2. Set SD card as read-only or write-protected

You can set the SD memory card as read-only or write-protected to avoid unexpected modification or deletion to the important data.

3. Encrypt the SD memory card

You can set a password to encrypt the SD memory card. Thus, even if the SD card is lost, you do not worry that private data will be stolen by others. However, you should remember the password clearly in case of data loss.

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