SD Card

How to Fix Corrupted SD Card Without Formatting on Windows PC6 min read

November 25, 2022 7 min read

Reading Time: 7 minutesA corrupted SD card can cause you to panic, since it’s typically assumed that formatting is the only way to fix it, and formatting entails wiping out all your data. But, using data recovery software, you can first recover your precious files from the SD card and then proceed to repair it. Learn how to effectively fix a corrupted SD card without formatting it using the guide below.

How to Recover Data from Corrupted Memory Card

Third-party data recovery software is the easiest and most cost-effective way to recover your files. But it’s essential that you choose a good data recovery program.

In this tutorial, we’ll use Disk Drill to recover data from a damaged SD card. The program features an advanced data recovery algorithm that not only finds most of the recoverable data on your storage drive but also has a simplistic, modular UI that makes doing so easy for all types of users.

Disk Drill supports all kinds of SD cards, including SD, SDHC (SD High Capacity), and SDXC (SD Extended Capacity), making it an ideal choice to recover data from a corrupted memory card without formatting it. The data recovery process includes two major steps: creating a disk image of the memory card to prevent further damage and scanning the disk image for recoverable data.

Create a Disk Image Using Disk Drill

  1. Download Disk Drill and install it.
  2. Connect the corrupted memory card to your computer.
  3. Open Disk Drill, and click on the Drive Backup option in the left navigation bar.The Drive Backup option in Disk Drill.
  4. Select the memory card and then click Bye-to-byte backup.The Byte-to-byte backup screen in Disk Drill.
  5. Choose where you want to save the disk image. Make sure you have free space equivalent to the size of the memory card, at the save location. Click OK.The Byte-to-byte backup parameters prompt in Disk Drill.
  6. Disk Drill will create the disk image.Disk image created screen in Disk Drill.

Scan the Corrupted Memory Card’s Disk Image Using Disk Drill

  1. Open Disk Drill, and make sure you’re on the Storage Devices tab.The Storage Devices tab in Disk Drill.
  2. Click on the Attach disk image option and open the disk image that you created. It will then show up as a storage device in Disk Drill.The Attach disk image option in Disk Drill.
  3. Select the disk image and click Search for lost data.The Search for lost data option in Disk Drill.
  4. Click on Review found items or directly click on the file type you want to recover, such as Pictures, Video, Audio, Documents, and Archive. You can view recoverable files in real time as well.Review found items in Disk Drill.
  5. Select the files you want to recover using the checkboxes. To preview files, simply hover your cursor over them and click the eye icon. Once confirmed, click on Recover.List of recoverable files in Disk Drill.
  6. Select a recovery destination for the files and click Next.Recovery destination prompt in Disk Drill.
  7. Disk Drill will recover the selected files.Data recovery complete screen in Disk Drill.

How to Fix Corrupted SD Card without Formatting

Formatting should typically be used as a last resort to fix a corrupted SD card, since it removes all your data. Therefore, here are some fixes you can try instead:

Method 1: Use the Error Checker in File Explorer

Even if it shows up in Windows File Explorer, you will not be able to open the SD card without formatting it. But, you can still use the Error Checking feature in File Explorer to try and fix this:

  1. Open File Explorer, right-click the memory card and select Properties.The Properties option in Windows File Explorer.
  2. Click on the Tools tab.The Tools tab in the Properties window.
  3. Click on the Check button under Error checking.The error checking option in Properties.
  4. Click on Repair drive in the next prompt.The Repair drive prompt.

Method 2: Use CHKDSK to Repair the SD Card

CHDSK is a troubleshooting utility in Windows that can be used to repair the SD card without formatting it. Here is how you can use it:

  1. Type cmd in Windows Search (Windows Key + S). Right-click on Command Prompt from the search results and click Run as administrator.The Command Prompt in Windows Search results.
  2. In the Command Prompt console, type chkdsk X: /f and press Enter. Replace X: with the drive letter of the SD card.The CHKDSK command syntax.
  3. The process may take a while, depending on the size of the memory card.

Method 3: Assign a New Drive Letter to the Memory Card

Many a time, assigning a new drive letter can be a simple way to fix a corrupted SD card without losing data. You will need to use Disk Management to do this:

  1. Type disk management in Windows Search and select Create and format hard disk partitions from the search results.Disk Management in Windows Search results.
  2. In the Disk Management window, right-click on the corrupt SD card and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths.Change Drive Letter and Paths option in Disk Management.
  3. Click on the Change… option.The Change option in Disk Management.
  4. Choose a drive letter from the drop-down menu and then click OK.The Drive letter drop down menu.

Method 4: Update the Drivers

Sometimes, a simple driver update could fix the damaged SD card. Here are the instructions on how to do it:

  1. Type Device Manager in Windows Search and open it.
  2. Expand the relevant section in Device Manager. For us, it was Storage Drives. Right-click on the corrupt memory card and choose Update Driver.The Update driver option in Device Manager.
  3. Click on Search automatically for drivers on the next window.Update driver prompt in Device Manager.
  4. Windows will automatically download and install the latest drivers.

Method 5: Use Diskpart to Fix the Corrupt Memory Card

Diskpart is another command line utility used to manage and fix the storage drives on your computer. While it is typically used to format and create partitions on storage drives, it has some parameters that will allow you to fix a corrupted SD card without losing data.

Here is how you can use diskpart:

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. In the console, type diskpart and press Enter.The diskpart command.
  3. Type list disk and press Enter.The list disk command.
  4. Choose the corrupt memory card–type select disk X (replace X with the number of the SD card) and press Enter.The select disk command.
  5. Lastly, type recover and hit Enter.The recover command.

Conclusion

While a corrupt memory card can be fixed without formatting, it’s important that you first recover your data from it, in case of a mishap. Tools like Disk Drill are able to detect corrupt SD cards, as long as they’re present in Disk Management. After recovering your data, you can use several methods and utilities such as CHKDSK, diskpart, driver updates and more to repair the SD card.

FAQ