How to Format SD Card Without Losing Data?【Windows】

Last Updated Date: 4, Dec 2023

What Does It Mean to Format an SD Card

Formatting an SD card just signifies all the data is wiped clean permanently on it.  And a new folder system will be assigned to the secure digital device when you do this. This operation allows an SD card to be reused to hold new records again.

Why Would We Need to Format an SD Card?

No matter which SD card you’re using, you’ll need to format it at some point in time in order to use it better. Here we will give you a brief introduction to why we need to format an SD card.

  • The SD card is full. Increase the memory of the SD card by deleting all existing information that is not useful to you now. But bear in mind that you have safely backed up your important files to your computer or other devices.
  • The SD card does not work properly. If your data drive is infected with some kind of virus,  you get a message that the disk is corrupted or unreadable, then formatting it can fix the problem. 
  • Change file system. You bought a new device and need to reconfigure your SD card to start a new project or shoot.
  • The SD card hasn’t been formatted for a long time. In order to extend its service life, we recommend that you format it once every 2-3 weeks
several sd cards

How to Format an SD Card on a Windows PC 

You can start formatting your SD card once you’ve successfully restored your data and backed it up

Before formatting your sd card, please make sure you’ve successfully backed your data up. Here we provide 2 ways to format your sd card. Check them before starting formatting.

Format an SD card in Windows File Explorer

Using Windows File Explorer has been considered as the most convenient way to format sd card by many users. Here’s the step-by-step guidance.

  • Connect the SD card to your computer using a card reader. Or you can insert the card into the camera or Android smartphone you’re using and connect it to your computer with a USB cable.
  • Open “File Explorer” on the desktop. 
  • Find your connected SD card and right-click your SD card, then click Format.
image source: Lifewire
  • Select a File System and click Start. Then, wait for your SD card to be formatted.

Format an SD card with Disk Management

Disk Management is another useful feature to help you format sd card as it’s easy to use. Here’s how to format sd card with it.

  • Connect the SD card to your computer using a card reader. Or you can insert the card into the camera or Android smartphone you’re using and connect it to your computer with a USB cable.
  • Right-click Start and click Disk Management or hold and press [Win] and [R] keys on the keyboard to open the Run dialog box, enter the command [diskmgmt.msc], and click [OK].
enter the command [diskmgmt.msc] in Disk Management
  • Choose Disk Management and select your SD card and right-click it.
  • Select “Format” and choose a File System on the pop-up Format window.
  • Ensure Perform a quick format is enabled and click OK.
Perform a quick format
  • Wait for the SD card to be formatted.

Remember to back up Before Formatting an SD Card

It’s important to note that once formatted, all your data on the SD card will be erased. Therefore, if you want to format the SD card without losing data, you need to back up the data in advance. There are two situations to be concerned about, if your SD card’s data is corrupted and cannot be accessed normally, or you accidentally do a quick format operation on the SD card, then you can use data recovery software to restore important files to another disk. If the SD card works normally, you can also back up your data on another device directly. Both of these methods can guarantee that the vital data of the SD card will not be lost.

Back up an SD card in Windows Explorer

If you can open your SD card directly, you can back up your data by moving it around using File Explorer. Follow these steps to back up data from your SD card using File Explorer:

  • Connect the SD card to your computer using a card reader. Or you can insert the card into the camera or Android smartphone you’re using and connect it to your computer with a USB cable.
  • Open “File Explorer” on the desktop. 
  • Find your connected SD card and copy the data files to your computer where you want to store your backup files and paste them.

Back up an SD card in Data Backup Software

  • Before formatting your SD card, you can also choose to use many great data backup software to help you back up important files on your SD card, allowing you to format your SD card without losing data. There are some recommended Data Backup Software, you can choose according to your needs.

Back up an SD card in Mobile Devices

  • You can also back up files directly from your phone, copying them to cloud storage solutions like Google Drive, Samsung Cloud, Dropbox, or OneDrive. Keep in mind, however, that one of these options needs to be configured before data is lost, or a copy will not be available.

Recover SD Card Data Using Data Recovery Software

If you cannot access your SD card for some reason such as SD card corruption, you can get professional recovery software “ONERECOVERY” for Windows.

ONERECOVERY is an efficient and professional software to get back your valuable files in data loss scenes. This tool is compatible with Windows, without any complicated steps, making you experience the satisfaction of regaining. More importantly, the free trial is available, wherein you can try all its unique features as you need.

Steps to recover SD card data using ONERECOVERY in Windows:

  • Launch ONERECOVERY software on PC. Double-click the ONERECOVERY on the desktop or enter ‘ONERECOVERY’ in the search bar and open it. 
  • Select the external hard disk to start scanning. The ONERECOVERY will start scanning the disk to search for your lost data and files.
  • After the scanning, you can check all recovered files. Preview and select your files by clicking the “Recover” button.
  • Finally, save the recovered files at your chosen location.
simple 3 steps to recover data from hard drive

Tip: Utilizing these tips, especially recovering from a copy of an SD card, can help you recover your data successfully. Once you have recovered your data, make a backup to protect it from future data loss situations. It is important to note that if the SD card is overwritten with new data, there is little chance of recovering the original file. Once you are aware of data loss, it is essential to stop using the card to maximize the possibility of successful recovery before overwriting occurs. 


Why is my SD card unable to format?

  • Turn off the write-protected switch of the SD card. If the write protection of the SD card is enabled, you will not be able to format the SD card without deleting the files. At this time, you will need to check if your SD card has a write-protect switch and bear in mind it is in the off position, otherwise, it stays in read-only mode. You can follow the link to watch this video. In other words, please troubleshoot all the possible problems before formatting an SD card.
  • Check the connections of the SD card. Check whether the connection is loose and causes the identification failure.
  • Run an anti-virus app to check the SD card. Detected by anti-virus software to see if the SD card infects a virus.

Why Did My SD Card Suddenly Stop Working?

There are many factors that may lead to your SD card stopping working, such as some logical corruptions of the card like file system corruption, and bad sectors, and other connecting issue/reading device issue. You can get more details by clicking here.


From how to prepare to the file system selection of the SD card, and how to format the SD card on Windows, this article gives you a detailed tutorial. It is worth noting that backing up the important data on the SD card in advance is something we must keep in mind. Once your data is backed up and safe, you can proceed to format the SD card using either File Explorer, Disk Management, or other methods. Nevertheless, if your data is lost or corrupted, the fastest and most efficient way is to use professional data recovery software such as ONERECOVERY.

Hope you liked this article and found it useful. 

Thank you for your reading!

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