All-in-one tutorial for SD card data recovery and SD card repair

Deleted photos on SD cards? SD card is corrupted or inaccessible? Download the free SD card data recovery software iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover data from SD memory cards before repairing SD card errors.

By Vivian | Posted to Data Recovery on March 27th, 2019 |

In this digital era, people are fond of saving various files like photos, music, movies, etc. to the tiny but powerful storage device - SD card. However, this portable device is also at the risk of losing data, just like any other storage devices. This page will show you 5 problems that you probably encounter when you use SD cards and share you with a comprehensive tutorial to repair corrupted SD cards as well as other SD card errors with no fuss.

Table of contents
1. A brief introduction to SD cards
2. How to recover deleted files from SD cards without software?
3. How to recover data from corrupted/inaccessible SD cards?
4. The 5 most common SD card errors
5. Tips to extend the life of your SD card

a comprehensive SD card data recovery solution

A brief introduction to SD cards

SD cards are the most convenient flash memory devices featured with small size, fast data transmission speed, hot plug-able and so on. And you may have widely used SD cards for your portable devices, such as phones, digital cameras, and multimedia players, but a variety of SD cards can be a little confusing. Therefore, this part will briefly introduce this device.

  • SD Standard
  • SDHC Standard
  • SDXC Standard
  • SDUC Standard
  • Capacity
  • Up to 2GB
  • More than 2GB up to
    32 GB
  • More than 32 GB Up to
  • More than 2TB up to
  • File System
  • FAT 12, 16
  • FAT 32
  • exFAT
  • exFAT
  • SD Logo
  • Card
  • SD
    Micro SD
  • 32 x 24 x 2.1mm, Approx 2g
    11 x 15 x 1.0, Approx 0.5g

As you can see, the types of SD card are varied with specifications and capacity. People usually use standard SD cards in their cameras, PCs while micro SD cards for phones, Nintendo Switch, etc. The micro SD card is made with smaller specifications than their SD card brothers and is a little more expensive because of difficulty in manufacturing.

Usually, you can access data on your SD card as long as your electronic device has an SD card slot, or you need to buy an adapter or a card reader.

Nevertheless, people frequently lost their important data stored on SD cards in many scenarios. It is frustrating especially when you have no backup, just like the real question from Microsoft Community below.

I recently transferred some important files to an SD card. But later when I checked it, a window showed up and said that it needs to be formatted (whhhaaaat!) for some volume error thing...something like that. I want to know if I can still get my files back, or if I do something wrong to this SD card. Can someone give me a list of what might have happened or any advice on SD card data recovery? Thank you!

- A Case from Microsoft Community

How to recover deleted files from SD cards without software?

There are many reasons for losing files from SD cards. The most common one is accidental deletion. For example, you accidentally deleted the photos or videos on digital camera SD memory card. No matter what the cause is, the most urgent thing for you probably is how can you recover your deleted photos from your SD card. Don't worry, this part will show you how to recover deleted data from SD cards without software on your PC.

There is a high possibility of data recovery and the reason for this is, when you delete a file on your SD card, the system didn't just erase your files directly and immediately. Instead, it will mark the spaces your files occupied previously as available for new data. In other words, your deleted files are still here before you saving anything new to overwrite them. Therefore, the key point of such SD card data recovery is not to overwrite the deleted files.

To recover deleted files from SD card, you need to stop using this card and don't do any further operation like saving new files, adding other files to this storage devices, changing existing files' location, etc.

Here is the way to recover files from SD card without software.

Method 1:Recover files from File History backups

If you didn't recover the deleted files from Recycle Bin successfully, you can check if you can perform SD card deleted data recovery in File History backups or not.

  1. Step 1: Search for "Restore Files" on the taskbar and choose "Restore your files with File History".
  2. Step 2: Click on the folder that you stored the deleted files on previously and check if there is a backup of the files you need.
  3. Step 3: Select the deleted files and click "Restore" to recover the deleted SD card data.

Recover deleted photos from a File History backup

How to recover data from corrupted/inaccessible SD cards?

Other situations will also cause data loss on your SD card. For instance, an SD card is corrupted, becomes inaccessible, or even is formatted by yourself mistakenly.In these cases, you don't have any access to the files on this SD card but run into SD card data recovery software on serach engine.

However, there are so many chioces that you have no idea which one is the best.Are you at loss? Relax and you will know what is the best SD card daat recovery software in the following part.

Video tutorial: How to recover data from SD cards for free

What is the best SD card data recovery software?

The necessary feature of comprehensive and multifunctional SD card data recovery software is the capacibility of recovering your deleted/lost files from SD cards in many situations.

all-in-one SD card recovery

Here comes iBoysoft Data Recovery. Accidentally deleted files from the SD card? SD cards become inaccessible, RAW, or corrupted all of a sudden? As long as your SD card is not physically damaged, this free SD card data recovery software could bring your files back from the edge of disaster that happened to your SD card, undeleting documents, files, videos, audio, music as well as recover emails from your portable storage devices.

Best free SD card data recovery

  • Recover any file types on PC
  • Recover data from both internal drives and external drives
  • Recover data from formatted/RAW/deleted partition
  • Recover data from Bitlocker encrypted partition
  • Support NTFS, exFAT and FAT32 formatted drives' data recovery
  • Work with Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Windows Server 2016/2012/2008/2003

Read-only & risk-free

Except for SD card data recovery, iBoysoft is powerful in recovering data from other drives like hard drives, USB flash drives, CF cards, memory cards, external hard drives, and in recovering deleted/lost files from Bitlocker encrypted drives, etc.

You can recover deleted or lost photos from SD cards with this software and here is a infograohic.

all-in-one SD card recovery software

Steps to recover data from corrupted/inaccessible SD cards

Step 1: Free download, install and launch iBoysoft Data Recovery on your computer.

Step 2: Select your SD card from the Drives list and click "Next" to scan for data on this drive.

Recover data from SD card with iBoysoft Data Recovery

Step 3: You will see the scanning result in the left sidebar and you can preview them to ensure the condition of these files.

Step 4: Choose files you want to get back and click "Recover" to recover them. Remember to save them to another healthy drive.

Recover data from formatted SD card

PS: You can also recover data from SD cards on Mac with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

After recovering data from this corrupted SD card, you are safe to reformat this drive so that you can use it as normal.

Warning: Reformatting will erase data on your SD card, so please make sure you have a copy of data backup if you have important files on the SD card, or you can recover data from this external drive before reformatting.

Step 1: Find your SD card in My Computer/Computer/This PC.

Step 2: Right-click this corrupted SD card and choose "Format".

Step 3: Give this SD card a name and fill in other necessary information like file system, allocation unit size.

Step 4: Check the "Quick Format" box and click "OK" to reformat it.

The 5 most common SD card errors

This section will list 5 most common situations that you need SD card data recovery, read and check if you're one of the victims who lost important files from SD cards. If so, try some feasible solutions to fix your SD card errors.

corrupted SD card

1. Corrupted SD cards

SD cards are prone to corruption for many reasons, such as sudden ejection when you're transferring files, malware attacks, wobbly connection. Most of the time, you will not be able to access data on this corrupted SD card, and there are some symptoms for a corrupted SD card.

  • Files on this SD card are missing all of a sudden
  • Failure to show a file like pictures or video smoothly
  • Blank SD card when you access it on PC
  • SD card is write-protected when you copy files

Video tutorial: How to repair corrupted SD cards using CMD

2. Formatted SD cards

If you search "How to recover data from SD card" online, you will find that what comes after corrupted SD card data recovery is "How to recover data from a formatted SD card?". It is admitted that reformatting the SD card can fix SD some card errors but it is risk-taking as well if you don't have a copy of a data backup. The most common circumstances for reformatting are the following:

  • Unintentionally formatting.
  • Your SD card is infected by the virus.
  • Your SD card behaves abnormally and cannot be used for data storage.

3. SD card is not accessible

The following error messages may be feedback on an inaccessible SD card.

SD card is not accessible

  • "E:\ is not accessible. Access is denied."
  • "E:\ is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted or unreadable."
  • "E:\ is not accessible. The volume does not contain a recognized file system. Please make sure that all required file system drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted."
  • "E:\ is not accessible. The parameter is incorrect."
  • "E:\ is not accessible. The disk structure is corrupted and unreadable."

4. The SD card becomes RAW

Another case you need SD card data recovery solution is that the file system of your SD card is RAW. You may be wondering: "RAW? Should I cook my SD card?" No, it's not the case. A RAW SD card means the files system of your SD card is unrecognizable for the OS and you will receive the following messages when you try to open this SD card.

SD card is asking you to format before you can use it

5. Other SD card errors

The most horrible thing for you could be an SD card error when you don't even know what happened but your SD card just won't work normally. If you are facing with certain SD card errors, you can repair some common SD card errors with the following solutions after you have recovered your data from the SD card.

Solution 1:Check connection

It is possible that your computer is not reading your SD card because of a faulty connection. The most foolproof solution is to connect the SD card to another card reader or slot, which is able to fix the SD card problem due to a wobbly connection.

Solution 2:Change the drive letter of the SD card

This process of changing the drive letter will endeavor to load and repair the file system of your unreadable SD card. Just try to fix your SD card with the tutorial below.

Step 1: Right-click on My Computer (Vista/XP)/Computer (Windows 7/8)/This PC (Windows 10) icon on the desktop and choose "Manage".

Step 2: In the left sidebar, select "Disk Management" under Storage.

Step 3: Locate the SD card in question by disk information and right-click on it to choose "Change Drive Letter and Path…".

Step 4: Follow the wizard to finish the drive letter change process.

Solution 3:Repair the SD card error with CMD

You can also repair corrupted SD card using CMD if you're confident in command prompt. It is a Windows utility that can check and fix various file system errors of SD cards, such as bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files, and directory errors, etc.

Note: You can also repair SD card errors with Disk Utility's First Aid on Mac, or using Terminal commands.

Step 1: Type "cmd" in your Windows search box and press Enter.

Step 2: Right-click it and choose "Run as Administrator".

Step 3: Type "chkdsk *: /f" ( * is the drive letter of your SD card) into the Command Prompt window and press Enter.

Step 4: When the SD card repair is successful, type "exit" and press Enter.

You can try to repair this SD card error through CHKDSK command usually, but if you will receive the message" CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives" you may need to recover data from this SD card instead.

CHKDSK is not available for RAW SD card

Tips to extend the life of your SD card

According to a research, the average life span of the flash memory storage devices is less than 5 years, so it is annoying if you want to keep some files like precious family photos for a long time. Moreover, your SD card could fail suddenly for unknown reasons. Even though you can perform SD card recovery when you're facing data loss, it is still necessary to extend the life of your SD cards from long-term perception. There are some suggestions to keep your SD card standing longer.

1. Always safely eject your SD card

Make sure you properly remove the SD card every time you finish working, and you need to do this before you shut down electronic devices like PC, camera, mobile phones, etc. If the read-write process to an SD card frequently stops due to sudden power outage, it will cause great damage to its ability to read and write, just imagine that you're choked by peanuts.

2. Equip different devices with different SD cards

In order to avoid incompatible file system issues, like the RAW file system, don't share a single SD card with many different electronic devices.

3. Take out the SD card from PC timely

When you finish your work on the PC, don't just leave it connecting to your computer all the time.

4. Protect your SD cards from physical damage

Physical damages include hot, wet, cold, dusty or magnetic surroundings and dropping from high places. Don't bend or twist your SD card, or else even the best SD card data recovery software is unable to help you.

5. Regularly back up your files

In case of losing data from SD card unnecessarily, backup is always the best choice for SD card data recovery.


Vivian likes to share technical tips and solutions with people, especially in macOS and Windows data recovery tricks. Being a part of @iBoysoft, she has solved many computing and technological problems for readers with ease.

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