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How to Fix SD Card that Won’t Read?

You should see the contents of an SD card as soon as you plug it into your computer, camera or mobile phone. In some cases, SD card takes a little time to initiate before finally allowing you to access its data. But, there exist a few situations where your SD card falls short to start and your device fails to read it, which happens with most SD card users. There are numerous distinct causes for SD card that won’t read or get damaged. Let’s look at them based on the device to which the card is connected. However, you can directly skip to the steps to know how to recover files from a damaged SD card.

  1. SD card not reading in phone/camcorder:
    Your phone/camera is compatible to read and access the SD card, but still, the card is not reading in phone/camera. This is because your card might be formatted in another device, which is not readable by your phone/camcorder. So, format the SD card in your phone or camera to be able to use it.
Caution:  Backup data from SD card before formatting it.
  1. SD card not reading in computer:

Your SD card is working fine in camera and phone, but it’s not readable in computer. This could happen because after viewing SD card photos, videos on phone/camera, people try to copy them to the system, but the system cannot read the same SD card. These sorts of problems arise due to some specific issues in driver, system and device. Let’s go through each cause and resolution.

  1. a) Card reader: A faulty card reader or USB cable would be the main culprit here.

So, the basic troubleshooting is to hook up the SD card with another system and verify if the issue lies with the previous system. If you feel the USB cable or card reader needs fixing, then do it.

Tip: Replace your faulty, old, worn-out USB adapters, card readers to get a permanent solution.
  1. b) Faulty driver: If your system has outdated, damaged or broken drivers then it cannot read SD card. So, update existing drivers or uninstall them. Do a fresh driver installation from scratch.
  2. c) Unsupported format: If SD card is formatted with a File System that your system doesn’t support, the computer will not be able to read the card. Check the File System of SD card, if it’s not compatible with your computer then assign it your computer with a compatible File System.
Note: Assigning File System is nothing but formatting the SD card and giving it a new File System.
  1. Device issue:
    Issues may not always lie with the system or the connecting media. It sometimes might be your SD card which is the real culprit. Want to know how? Here it is…
  2. a) Grimy chip: Dust may accumulate on SD card chip and make it unreadable. So, examine the metal area of card; if you find any spots or black marks then wipe it gently using cotton. If you wish, dip the cotton in little alcohol/water and use.
  3. b) Crunched slot: SD card slots are built using ultra-thin devices. They are highly sensitive and bend easily even with little pressure. Due to variations of battery thickness slot will get squeezed. So, reshape the slot and change the battery.
  4. c) Corroded or bent line: Some phones bend the wires of SD card. Also, these wires may get corroded due to humidity, weather changes, etc. Obviously, bent wires make the card unreadable. So check the lines in bright light. If they are bent, then try to bend them backward by gently pushing it.
  5. d) Creepy-crawly card: If the SD card is corrupted by malicious virus then it fails to appear on your computer, making it inaccessible by your system. Hence, scan the affected card in phone or computer using an efficient antivirus tool to remove corrupted files. If the card is severely corrupted, then format it in computer (low level format) or camera.
Useful info: If your photos, videos, documents etc files present on SD card are permanently erased by any perilous virus then you don’t have to be worried. You can restore those permanently deleted photos, videos, audio files or any sort of data using recovery software.
  1. Conked out card:
    If your SD card fails to read even after formatting then try to run CHKDSK (in Windows) or Disk Management (in Mac) on the card. If the card doesn’t show up on any of the devices including computer, phone, camcorder, etc. even after running these repair tools, then it’s time to replace the card.

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