How Can I Recover My Damaged SD Card Without Formatting?

Last Updated Date: 4, Dec 2023

SD card is a common way to transfer and store a large number of files such as photos and videos. But sometimes things can go wrong. When an SD card gets damaged, corrupted, or inaccessible, it will require formatting to repair. However, formatting will erase all the data contained within the SD card. If you’ve used your SD card to store valuable photos and videos or other important files, formatting it will not be the best idea. So how can you recover a damaged SD card without formatting? 

In this article, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide that includes 5 ways to help you solve the problem. Read on to find the solution that suits you best.

Method 1. Try a different USB port, card reader or device

Before moving on to the more complicated methods to save your SD card, you should first try out some quick fixes. The problem might be physical. Or even, your SD card might be just fine, and the problem actually lies within the USB port or the SD card reader. Follow the below steps to rule out the physical or external causes:

  1. Find a small switch on one side of your SD card. Try toggling the switch to unlock the SD card before reconnecting it to your computer.
sd card
  1. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe your SD card and card reader to ensure there is no dust or debris that prevents data reading.
  2. Plug your SD card into a different USB port.
  3. Disconnect your SD card from the card reader and plug it in your computer directly.
  4. Connect the card reader to another computer.
  5. Connect the SD card to a different card reader.

Method 2. Run CHKDSK to scan for errors and fix your SD card

Windows devices offer a system tool called CHKDSK (check disk) that can scan and fix errors of your SD card. It is not as difficult as some people may think. You can launch it from the command prompt, which can be achieved by the following steps:

  1. Type cmd (Command Prompt) in the search box on the task bar. Select ‘Run as administrator’.
the search box on the task bar
  1. Type ‘chkdsk X:/f’ and be sure to replace X with the letter that the system assigns to your SD card (/f is the command to fix all SD card errors). Then press Enter. This will launch CHKDSK to scan for any errors and if found, it will automatically repair the SD card. 
  2. Wait for CHKDSK to finish its work. Depending on the size of your SD card, the whole process could take a few hours.

Method 3. Add or change the drive letter of your SD card

A drive letter is an alphabetic character assigned to identify a computer hard drive, its partition or a storage device. When you connect your SD card to the computer, the system will assign it a drive letter, like D or E. Sometimes, the computer fails to update drive letter information, causing the drive letters of two different drives to conflict. In other instances, there is no drive letter assigned to your SD card at all, so it won’t be recognized. This is why adding or changing the drive letter of your SD card could solve your problem. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Type in ‘disk management’ in the search box on the taskbar and click on ‘Create and format hard disk partitions (control panel)’ from the list of results.
Create and format hard disk partitions (control panel)
  1. From the list of disks available on the interface, locate your SD card and right-click on it. Then select ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’.
Change Drive Letter and Paths
  1. Choose ‘Add’ if your SD doesn’t already have a drive letter. Otherwise, choose ‘Change’.
Change Drive Letter and Paths
  1. Choose a drive letter from the dropdown menu and click OK twice to confirm.

Method 4. Use an SD card data recovery software

When an SD card gets damaged, it may become inaccessible and put you at risk of losing photos and videos stored within. Data recovery software can let you retrieve those valuable photos and videos from your SD card with ease. Before things get too messy, it is better to employ these handy little helpers to do the job. In this article, we will demonstrate how to recover an SD card with ONERECOVERY.

ONERECOVERY is a powerful tool that helps you recover lost data in a matter of minutes. It works with almost any kind of storage device, including SD cards.  It can handle 1000+ file types, so whatever files you stored in there, you can get them restored back to their original condition. This includes high-resolution photos and videos. No more worrying about losing much-treasured memories!

the homepage of ONERECOVERY

Below are the simple steps to use ONERECOVERY:

  1. Download, install and launch ONERECOVERY.
  2. Connect and select your SD card from the list of available storage mediums.
  3. Start scanning your SD card.
  4. Review the results and select ‘Recover’ to restore the data.

Method 5. Update or reinstall SD card drivers

A device driver is a piece of software that allows the operating system and the device to communicate with each other. If the driver of your SD card is not working properly, you will not be able to correctly access it. Under normal circumstances, the system automatically downloads and installs the latest versions of drivers through Windows updates. However, glitches can happen that cause the driver to be outdated, corrupted or missing. This is when you should manually update or reinstall your SD card drivers. Follow the below steps to achieve this:

  1. Type ‘device manager’ into the search box on the taskbar. Choose ‘Device Manager (Control Panel)’ from the list of results.
the search box on the taskbar
  1. Browse through the categories. To find your SD card, expand the relevant categories by clicking the arrows in front of them. It could be located under Disk Drives or Portable Devices.
  2. Right-click on your SD card and choose ‘Update driver.’
  3. Start scanning by clicking ‘Search automatically for updated driver software’.
  4. Select ‘Update Driver’.
  5. Alternatively, if there are no available updates, click ‘Close’.
  6. Click ‘Uninstall device’, then ‘Uninstall’.
  7. Remove the SD card from your computer and plug it back in again, which will enforce a reinstallation of the driver.


The above described five ways to recover damaged SD card, including data recovery software ONERECOVERY. Use them to save the data stored in your SD card.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *