By Ivy / Last update November 16, 2021

Accidentally formatted SD card? Recover files with given ways below:

What does formatting really mean?

Formatting is a process to prepare a storage device and make it available for storing files, such as a hard disk drive, solid-state drive, USB flash drive or memory card. During the process, two things will happen, change file system and remove all the data so as to restore its full capacity. 

Note that the data does not really erased completely sometimes. In most case, we say formatting an SD card, usually using "quick format" option. It only add a new file system on this SD card and remove the logical links to the previously stored  files and folders, so you cannot see it on the computer. 

But if you uncheck quick format option while formatting, the format method you use is "full format". The process takes twice as long as the quick format, which can completely erase data on the SD card or other devices by writting zeros to every sectors of it. 

Things need to pay more attention: 

1. Don't add new items to SD card. 

2. Don't reformat the SD card. 

3. Stop using the SD card until your files is recovered.

All the operation above will overwrite the formatted data on the SD Card, to put it simply, the new data will occupy the location of previously stored data. 

How SD card get formatted? 

Your SD card get formatted in the following 3 situations. 

1. Accidentally format the wrong SD card or by others.

2. You are asked to format SD disk due to corruption or RAW file system. 

3.  Your SD card is infected by Virus. 

The first one may be the most common reasons. But some users says they don't delete it. Thus,  except for recovering files from SD card, you still need to remove virus or malware using anti-virus software. In addition, to avoid RAW file system, you need to eject the SD card first and then unplug it. 

Can you recover files from formatted SD card?

"Mistakenly, I formatted one of my SD card, which did not be backed up. I believe that there might be a way to recover my lost files from formatted SD card, including pictures, document, word files, excel files, etc. But I don't know which one is the right software. Any suggestion will be welcome."

The answer is Yes sometimes. If you use the "quick format" option and does not overwrite SD card with new items, your files are still lying here.

To recover deleted data from a formatted SD card, you can use cmd or data recovery software, like Recuva. It’s free and used by many users in worldwide. And you are allowed to recover an unlimited amount of data.

How to easily recover data from SD card after format

SD card is very common in the daily life. Thus, there is a risk that your SD card will be formatted owing to some reasons. After that, your files will be deleted and you cannot access it. Be relax! See below and learn to recover audio files, video files, raw files and other files from formatted SD card.

Way 1: Recover files from formatted SD card using cmd after formatting 

Here you will use chkdsk to check the specified disk for structural corruption and fix it. It' used to recover RAW files. If there are any hidden files or virus-infected files, you need to enable attrib command line.

For chkdsk, It is mainly used to scan the file system on a disk (NTFS, FAT32), check the integrity of the file system including file system metadata and fix any logical filesystem errors it finds.

Step 1. Connect your SD card to your computer via a card reader. Then, check its drive letter in the file explorer or disk management. 

Step 2. Type cmd in the search box, right click it and run as administrator.

Step 3. Type chkdsk H: /r to make correction to file system of SD card. Then, hit Enter.  Type Y if you are asked to force a dismount on this volume. 


Note: The parameter /r is a repair attribute: tell command prompt to repair problems when it finds any errors.

Step 4. Type attrib –h –r –s /s /d *.* and hit Enter.

Way 2: Recover deleted files from SD card after formatting via data recovery software Recuva 

Here you will use Recuva to recover files from formatted SD card. It is abled to recover pictures, music, documents, videos, emails or any other file type you've lost. And it can recover from any rewriteable media you have, such as, USB sticks, memory cards, external hard drives, and more. Then, let's see the specific steps.

Step 1. Be sure the SD card is recognized and check its drive letter. Then, Download Recuva on your computer and start it.

Step 2. In the Recuva wizard, Click Do not show this Wizard on startup and Cancel. Then, restart it.

Step 3. Click Options and select Actions tab. Then, check Scan for non-deleted files under the Scanning section. It allows you recover files from damaged or reformatted disks, here is SD card, whether overwriting with other data or not.

Scan For Non Deleted Files

Step 4. Select SD card from the drop-down menu and click Scan at the right side. Then, it will start to find all the lost files. 

Select SD Card

Step 5. Tick all or some of the lost files and click Recover. Then, you will be asked to select a path to store the recovered files, please do so.


Backup SD card if you don't want to lose your data again

It's painful when talking about recovering files from formatted SD card, because you are not sure if your data, even some of them, will be back. Well then, is there any safe way to protect your data continuously? 

The answer is yes, you can backup data on the SD card with a free backup software. It will make an exact copy of your original files and save them as an image file so as to avoid any unwanted access. If you will change your files sometimes, one copy is not enough. You need to schedule backup files (daily/weekly/monthly) on the SD card, thus all of them will be included in the image file.

But there is another problem, backing up all the files every time is a waste of time and disk space. Then, how to solve it? You can choose to backup only changed files with incremental backup

Based on these criteria, I strongly recommend AOMEI Backupper Standard to you. It's free and supports backing up files or folders on all the recognized drives, such as, SD card, USB thumb drive, memory card, external disk, etc. Below is the main page of this software, and as you can see, it still supports system backup, disk backup, and partition backup. 


Free download AOMEI Backupper Standard and open it. Click File Backup under the Backup section, then you will see several options, namely, Add Folder or Add File, Rectangle with folder-shapped button, Options, Schedule.  With them, you can select the data you and where you want to store them, set backup settings for this task. 

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Backup Data on the SD Card

Among them, Schedule is the core of protecting your data continuously. You can select daily/weekly/monthly backup.

Schedule Backup

Also, you can set the backup method you want to use in the Backup Scheme, including full/incremental/differential backup. (Note the differential backup is available on the professional version.)

Backup Method

Then, in the event of a disaster, you can restore files from backup by the Restore section. It allows you to select the image file and files or folders you want to restore, and restore to original location or different location. 


You can also use it to recover files from formatted SD card Android, recover files from formatted hard drive, recover files from Sandisk SD card, recover files from a crashed hard drive, recover files from SD card that needs formatted, etc. The premise is to create a file backup ahead of time and save it to a safe place.

The way forward

The SD card is accidentally formatted or infected by virus, the only way to get your data back is to recover files from formatted  SD card by cmd or data recovery software. It's said, chkdsk can only recover data from RAW file system or virus-infected while the attrib only works on hidden files. Recuva is useful, but it may install CCleaner or Avast without asking your permission. Thus, it's better to backup your files in advance instead of restoring them when bad things happen.