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How to Fix SD Card Won’t Read [Ultimate Tutorial]

Updated on Thursday, January 12, 2023

iBoysoft author Ciki Liu

Written by

Ciki Liu
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

Fix SD Card Won't Read/ SD Card Cannot Read Error in All Possible Ways

Summary: This post features various ways to fix the SD card won't read error, including using iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover data from the SD card won't read. 

how to fix SD card wont read

Regardless of the working device, be it a Windows PC, Mac, or a phone, it's not a rare situation that users encounter the SD card won't read or the SD card cannot read issue. If you are one of those unlucky ones, this post will elaborate on all possible solutions to troubleshoot the SD card won't read error.

Before getting started, let's take a quick look at the situation where you might find yourself and what causes the SD card being unreadable exactly.

Table of Contents:

SD card won't read situations and causes

When you connect or insert the SD card or the MicroSD card into your PC, tablet, or Android phone, you may receive the following error messages.

What causes the SD card won't read error? While there are various reasons, some common ones include physical damage, logical errors, virus/malware affection, and outdated SD card drivers. All the above-mentioned can result in your SD card being unreadable.

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Replace your SD card reader with a new one

Sometimes it's not your SD card that's wrong but the card reader, be it an external card reader or the internal one. To verify if the card reader is damaged, you can do the following.

  • Try inserting your SD card/MicroSD card into a new external SD card reader and connecting it to your Windows/Mac.
  • Insert the same SD card into different built-in SD card slots.

If by any chance the SD card is readable after changing the reader, simply replace the old one and the SD card won't read issue will be solved.

Try a different USB port

Similar to what's addressed above, a faulty USB port can also be the culprit. In case you use a USB adapter to connect your SD card to the device, try the adapter in different USB ports.

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Remove the SD card and restart your device

Believe it or not, a restart can solve the issue in most cases. It works the same for the SD card won't read issue. To do so, you should first safely remove the SD/MicroSD card from your PC or phone, then turn off and on the device. Reconnect the SD card now, is the SD card cannot read message still showing up?

Format the unreadable SD/Micro SD card

Formatting the SD card will not only fix the SD card won't error but also make your memory card completely fresh for reuse. It's necessary to know that by formatting, all your SD card will be wiped out, including the important files. Therefore, we highly suggest you recover data from the SD card with iBoysoft Data Recovery before formatting directly.

With iBoysoft Data Recovery, you can recover media files, including photos and videos from all types of SD cards, say, SDHC, SDXC, memory cards, microSD cards, etc. with a high recovery rate. It also supports data recovery from inaccessible, unreadable, and formatted SD cards.

To use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows:

Step 1. Download and install this SD card recovery software. Insert your SD card and launch the program.

Step 2: Choose Data Recovery from the list of three recovery modules. Click Next after selecting the unreadable SD card from the listed drives.

iBoysoft Data Recovery main interface

Step 3. After the scan is finished, you can browse the files that iBoysoft has discovered by file type. Preview them by right-clicking on the chosen file and choosing Preview.

Step 4. Look for the data you want to recover, then click on Recover. Note that you should save the recovered data in a new location.

recover found files

To use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac:

Step 1. Connect your SD/MicroSD card to your Mac via a card reader, then download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your computer.

Step 2. Click Search for Lost Data to begin the scanning process after choosing the SD card you want to recover.

scan the SD card

Step 3. After the scan is complete, you can utilize the Type option to better navigate to the file you're looking for. After choosing a file, click the Preview option to have a preview of it.

preview files before recovery

Step 4. Select the recoverable files and click on the Recover button to start data recovery. Do not save the restored files on the SD card.

select files for recovery

Once you've successfully recovered data from the SD card won't read, you can further format it for reuse.

To format an SD card/MicroSD card on Windows, follow the tutorial below.

To format an SD card on Mac, check this detailed guide.

Update/Reinstall the SD/Micro SD card driver on your Windows/Mac

Windows and Mac computers fail to recognize your SD/Micro SD when the driver is outdated, corrupted, or not properly installed at all. Therefore, you can first check if there are any driver updates, or simply reinstall the driver to fix the SD card cannot read issue.

Change the drive letter on Windows

One possibility is that your PC fails to detect and read your SD card because the drive letter of it is missing. In this case, you can assign a new drive letter to your SD card or MicroSD card. Here's how you can change the drive letter in Windows.

Step 1. Right-click on This PC and follow Manage > Storage > Disk Management.

Step 2. Right-click the SD card and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.

change drive letter and path

Step 3. Click on Change in the pop-up dialog and choose enter a new drive letter or path to your SD card.

Step 4. Last, click OK to save the changes you make and restart your Windows computer.

Take your SD card for disk repair

This can be the worst situation. If your SD card is not readable due to severe physical damage, your last hope is to find a disk repair store for help. Luckily, giant disk manufacturers such as SanDisk, Western Digital, Kingston, etc. offer disk repair services to help you out. Alternatively, you can search for the local disk repair center nearby.


After reading this post, you should know how to fix the SD card won't read issue in various methods. If you have to format it, unfortunately, remember to use iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover data from the SD card first before proceeding with formatting. 

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FAQs about SD card won't read


You can try rebooting your phone. If the problem still remains, you can change the SD card reader or further repair the faulty SD card or microSD card in a computer.


Check all the hardware, including the SD card reader and the USB port. Then connect the microSD card to your Windows PC for SD card repair. Last, you can format the card.


If you insert the SD card into your Mac but it fails to be read and accessed, you should remove it and insert it again. If it's still not working, you have to format it for better use.