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SD Card Cannot Be Formatted on Windows, Why and How to Solve That?

Updated on Friday, June 21, 2024

iBoysoft author Rivers Wong

Written by

Rivers Wong
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

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Summary: This post helps if you are unable to format SD cards on Windows. It will reveal the causes behind the problem and tell you how to solve it, whether it results in virus infection, bad sectors, or hardware problems.

fix SD card cannot format

Not a few people have the experience of "Windows was unable to complete the format" when formatting the SD card on a Windows computer. Have you ever thought about the reasons and do you know how to tackle this barrier? It is worth knowing and would just take you 5 to 10 minutes to get them clear in this article.

Why you cannot format an SD card and how to fix it?

I. Your SD card will not format as it is infected with the virus

tom got virus

SD card is a kind of data storage medium that is commonly used to transport data. When you consistently plug in and out different USB devices into a PC connector, to swap or back up files, viruses are spread. Some fierce viruses can directly kill your data in your SD card or make them as strange as Tom, and one of the symptoms is that you can't get your SD card formatted.


It has been proved by so many people that reliable antivirus software is all of the time the most powerful shield to fight against viruses. If you want to remove the virus with the help of a Windows computer, then installing an updated version of antivirus software, like McAfee AntiVirus Plus, and use its powerful function to run a scan to identify and remove the virus, and then try formatting your SD card on a Windows computer.

II. Windows can't format the SD card due to bad sectors

cannot format the sd card

A sector is used to store data. An SD card may be unable to get formatted due to a fatal bad sector which is the result of improper operations like hot swapping and motherboard unintentional impact. This is reasonable as bad sectors can't be used to store the data of the file system, so you'll fail to format SD cards on Windows. What's worse is that as far as contemporary technology, a bad sector can by no means be repaired.


There are two kinds of bad sectors: physically bad sectors and logically bad sectors. Although neither of them can be repaired, there are some ways to skip the logically bad sectors when you format the SD card.

1) Use third-party software

Wondershare Liveboot 2012 can be a good choice for you to check the bad sectors on your SD card.

2) Use the in-built SD card repair tool in Windows

Running CHKDSK can repair hard disk errors. It can check and mark the logically bad sectors so that the system can skip the damaged part when performing certain operations like formatting. As the process in Windows 7/8/10 has no big difference, here demonstrates two methods to check your SD card in Windows 10.

Method 1:Repair SD card errors through Command Prompt

  1. Log in to your Windows 10 account.
  2. Press the key "Windows".
  3. Choose "Search".
  4. Input "cmd.exe".
  5. Right-click on "Command Prompt" from the search results list.command prompt search.command prompt search
  6. Click "Run as administrator".
  7. Log in as an administrator.
  8. After the Command Prompt launches, input the command: chkdsk ?: /x/f/r.chkdsk in the command prompt.chkdsk in command prompt


  • The "?" refers to the drive letter of your unformattable SD card. For example, if the drive letter of your SD card is e, then you can type chkdsk e: /f /r/x to check and repair it.
  • /f means "attempt to fix found errors".
  • /r means "fix a position of bad sectors and recover any readable files".
  • /x means "dismount the target volume forcibly".

Method 2: Repair SD card corruption through "This PC"

  1. Enter "This PC".
  2. Choose the target volume, like K:\.
  3. Right-click the target volume and choose "Properties".
  4. Select "Tools", and click "Check".

If there are errors, like bad sectors, Windows will ask you to restart and attempt to fix the errors.

By the way, using an installation disc is another method to do a disk check, but it is troublesome enough to get executed, and very few people take it that way.

So far, you've fixed the bad sectors, which makes you get closer to formatting your SD card on a Windows computer.

III. SD card will not format for hardware problems

Sometimes, Windows was unable to format an SD card because the SD card is stuck with hardware issues like the SD card reader is not working. And the dirty metal connectors on the card are a big suspicion. The best approach to solving this problem is to use a cotton swab immersed in alcohol for a second, slightly wipe the metal area for five seconds, and plug the SD card back after drying out.

sd card metal area

IV. SD card won't format when it's write-protected

sd card write protect

Also, you can't format it if the SD card is write-protected. You need to first remove the write protection from the SD card with the following methods.

  1. Close the "write-protect" mode of your SD card through manual operation.
  2. Have a try on another USB card reader if your USB card reader can't recognize your SD card.
  3. Turn off the "write-protect" switch in your USB card reader through manual operation if your USB card reader has such a switch.
    sd card reader write protected
  4. If the connected computer is managed by third-party software which is used to ban all operations from unauthorized people, then you have to apply for permission.

V. Connection problems cause SD card formatting failure

The best circumstance is that SD card won't format simply because it's not connected well.

1) If there's something wrong with your PC USB interface. Try it on another computer or you can plug it into some devices, like a camera, to get it formatted relying on the devices' own stay-that-way formatting function.

2) If it's the SD card reader that is not working, then changing to another USB card reader is thought to be cost-optimal.

When you have solved all the problems, you can start to get your SD card formatted on Windows, and normally, there are two approaches to do that.

Read Also: How to format corrupted SD cards on Windows?


From the beginning to the end, thank you for your reading. While SD card formatting failure is never necessarily a piece of cake, I suppose that now you've known why you are unable to format an SD card on Windows and how to react when you fail to format an SD card on a Windows computer. If you find this article is of help, you can follow us on the YouTube account: iBoysoft. We will provide you with more and more useful information of high quality in the coming days.

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