How to fix a corrupted SD card

Small but valuable - here's how to rescue your tiny SD card from the bin.

How to fix a corrupted SD card

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Portable storage is an absolute necessity today due to aspects such as improvements in video recording quality, photography advancements, and complex apps thus making SD cards the go-to for most. While SD cards, on the whole, are extremely reliable, there are times when your data may get corrupted which in turn means you’ll need to learn how to fix a corrupted SD card to retrieve your precious data and files.

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How To Fix A Corrupted SD Card

When you get the dreaded message that your SD card has become corrupted, you might think that’s the end for all of your hard work but don’t despair, there are actually a number of ways you can fix a corrupted SD card. In this guide, we’re going to be looking at the top 5 solutions for fixing your corrupted SD card to help you get back that lost data.


Reinstall the SD card driver

If you suspect your SD card is corrupted and it’s simply not recognized by Windows at all, not displaying in Windows Explorer or Windows Disk Management, you may have a problem with the SD card driver that’s installed on your machine. To fix this, you will need to completely reinstall your SD card driver and hope the damage isn’t to your SD card isn’t too severe. Here’s how to reinstall that SD card driver:

Step 1
Press Win + X keys and click Device Manager.

Step 2
Expand your Disk Drives and right-click on the name of your SD card. Hit Uninstall.

Step 3
Click OK and disconnect the SD card from your PC.

Step 4
Restart your machine.

Step 5
Wait a few minutes then insert your SD card back into your computer. Windows will now attempt to install the latest driver automatically and make the SD card detectable.

This may fix your SD card problem but if your data is still showing as corrupted, you may need to execute some of the later fixes below.


Run Windows Repair Tool

Windows actually has its own repair tool when it comes to removable storage and could very well the best route in bringing your SD card back to life. It’s pretty simple to do too, see the steps below for running the Windows repair tool:

Step 1
Insert your SD card into your PC.

Step 2
Hit the Windows key + E to open Windows Explorer.

Step 3
Right-click on your SD card and select Properties.

Step 4
Click on the Tools tab.

Step 5
Click the Check button.

Step 6
Your SD card will now be scanned by the repair tool. Once completed, close the window and see if your SD card has been revived.

If this method of fixing a corrupted SD card worked then great! If not, don’t despair just yet as we still have some more proven methods in helping you out.


Change a card reader, adapter or a USB port

While you might think your SD card is the problem, it could actually be your SD card adapter (if you’re using one), USB port, or even the SD card reader built into your machine that’s causing the issue. To fault find this, you’ll have to do a few different things.

If you’re using an SD card adapter

If you’re using an SD card adapter, there are a couple of ways you can test if it is this that is affecting your SD card. The first way is to try another SD card in your SD card adapter. If this one works then you know you have a problem with the actual card and not the adapter itself. The second way is if you have a second SD card adapter. You can insert your Sd card into this one and see if you encounter any issues. If you do then it’s likely that there’s a fault with your card and if you don’t, you can be sure that the previous SD card adapter is the problem.

If you’re suspect a problem with your USB port

If you’re using an SD card reader, you’re going to be slotting it into a USB port in your machine and if you’ve done tests to ensure it’s not either your SD card or adapter that has issues, it could be the USB port that’s the problem. To test this, try your SD card adapter in various different USB ports on your PC. If none of your USB ports are recognizing your adapter, it could also mean that you have a driver issue that can be fixed via Method 1 we mentioned earlier.

If you’re using an inbuilt SD card reader

If you’re using an SD card reader that’s built into your rig and it’s not recognizing your SD card, there’s not too much you can do about it other than to attempt to reinstall the driver. You could open up your machine and desolder the internal adapter and replace it with another but that’s a lot of hassle. To ensure that it is the internal SD card reader that’s causing the issue, test your SD card in another PC or simply use an external SD card reader.


Run CHKDSK to check and repair SD card bad sectors

For a more technical method of fixing a corrupted SD card, you could run CHKDSK to check and repair SD card bad sectors.

These bad sectors can sometimes occur if you have your SD card for a long period of time and using CHKDSK cmd is the perfect method of identifying these and file corruption as well as removing them. This method is really the most thorough you can get without having to format your whole SD card so if this one doesn’t work, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to save your data. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1
Insert your SD card into your computer via an internal or external SD card reader.

Step 2
Open your Start menu and type “cmd” in a search bar.

Step 3
Press enter and you will see “cmd.exe” in a list of programs.

Step 4
Click on “cmd.exe”. A command window will now appear which will allow you to fix your corrupted SD card without formatting.

Step 5
Type in chkdsk /X /f [sd card drive letter]: or chkdsk [sd card drive letter]: /f.

Step 6
Windows will now check and fix the file system of your SD card. If you see the message “Windows has made corrections to the file system” in the command window after completion, you have just fixed your corrupted SD card.


Change the drive letter

There’s a slight chance that Windows has not assigned your SD card with the right drive letter thus why it displays as corrupted and unreadable. You can change this though, by assigning the drive letter yourself within the Windows Disk Management program:

Step 1
Press Win key + X and select Disk Management.

Step 2
Find your SD card and right-click. Choose the Change Drive Letter and Path option.

Step 3
Click Add and choose a new drive letter for your SD card. Click “OK” to save all the changes.

There you have it, you may have just repaired your corrupted SD card by simply changing the drive letter!

We hope that one of the methods above has helped you fix your corrupted SD card and you’ve been able to retrieve files that you thought were lost to the depths. However, if none of these did the job for you unfortunately you might be looking at buying a new SD card or simply formatting it. You could take your SD card to a specialist to see if they can revive it but there are no guarantees that they would be able to fix it either.