How to Recover SD Card Data without Formatting in 8 Ways

How to recover SD card data without formatting? The most effective way is to try MyRecover. If it’s corrupted, try the following 8 methods to fix it.


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Help! Need to fix and recover data from SD card 



I'm trying to move all files from the SD to my laptop, but the SD card somehow couldn't be opened and asked me to format it. How can I recover photos and videos from SD card without formatting? And How can I get it repaired?"


You may encounter a similar situation when you try to view or transfer photos, videos, and documents in an SD card. Your computer or camera suddenly asks you to format the disk. The error message may be one of the following:

  • You need to format the drive before you can use it.
  • This volume does not contain a recognized file system.
  • The type of the file system is RAW. This happens when you use chkdsk to repair this SD card.
  • Card not formatted. Format card with this camera.

Honestly, formatting helps you to get rid of the disk problem, but it will erase all the data on the SD card, making data recovery more difficult. On the other hand, simply ignoring this error, without further action, also cause eventual data loss. Worry not. This article will show you how to recover data from corrupted SD card and fix it without formatting it.

sd card without formatting

What makes SD card format, get unreadable, or corrupt?

Before going into more details of SD card data recovery and fixing it, let's take a quick look at the reason to format your SD card.

The corrupted SD card may not function properly or be recognized by your computer. It may be caused by virus attacks, interruptions to the read/write process, improper ejection, and other logical damage.
✦ Physical damage, such as bend, twist, and crack, may disalign the metal pins of an SD card, resulting in connection issues between the devices. Dust and debris can also get in the way of connectors.
✦ Low quality SD cards with false positives for either storage capacity or read/write speed (or both).
✦ Overuse SD card on multiple devices.
✦ Incompatible portable digital devices or operating systems require a format. Because different system use different file systems.
Continue using SD cards in low battery or storage.
✦ Outdated drivers cannot communicate with your operating system, thus making the SD card unrecognizable.
✦ File transfer interruption due to power outage or sudden removal in the middle of a transfer may cause a corrupted file system (RAW, Unknown or Unsupported) and require you to format the disk.

Next, I am going to show you how to fix and recover SD card data without formatting.

How to recover SD card data without formatting 

If your SD card is damaged or corrupted, it’s suggested to retrieve your files first. Because any new data will overwrite previous data and make data recovery more difficult. To get your data back quickly, you need a reliable data recovery software like MyRecover.

  • Compatible with most SD cards (SD card, micro/mini SD card, SHC/CF card, etc.) and file systems like NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, and more. It also helps to recover files from various memory cards, USB drives, HDDs and SSDs.
  • Recover lost or deleted Word documents, Excel files, PPT, photos, videos, audios, Emails, webpages, compressed files, and more than 200+ file types successfully and fast.
  • Keep the original file name, formats, quality, and paths after recovering SD card data.
  • Support Windows 7, 8, 10, 11, etc and Windows Server.

Please download reliable data recovery software - MyRecover and install it.

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Connect your SD card lost data. Launch MyRecover. Hover the mouse over the SD card and click Scan.

select partition to scan

Step 2. It will automatically scan your SD card and find as many of your files as possible. You can input file name, or type in the search for files or folders box to choose file you want to recover. To locate it quickly, select date modified or size.

search files

Step 3. Preview the scanning result and select the files you want to recover. Then, click Recover x files and choose a new location to save your files.

recover lost data

Don’t try to recover files to its original location. This may overwrite previous data here and cause data recovery failure.
It will display the number of files to recover and its total size.
This software helps to recover deleted files in Windows 10/11 and previous systems.

If your SD card is physically damaged, then you need to send your damaged SD card to a professional SD card recovery service. Because they have the right tools, facilities, and specialists.

How to fix corrupted or damaged SD card without formatting

After recovering a SD card without formatting, you are able to fix corrupted or damaged SD card. Here are some effective solutions you can refer to:

Solution1. Check Port

Solution 2. Assign a new drive letter

Solution 3. Reinstall SD card driver

Solution 4. Drive error checking

Solution 5. Windows Troubleshooter

Solution 6. Perform "recover" command

Solution 7. Show hidden files or folders

Solution 8.  Run "Chkdsk" command

▶ Fix 1. Check card reader, USB port or  SD card

This method is a quick collection of quick fixes to decide if it’s a mechanical problem. Do as follow or use another card reader, USB port, even SD card.

  • Check the SD card for a small, physical switch, unlock your SD card and reconnect it to your computer.
  • Clear SD card and port for any dust and debris using a dry and microfiber cloth.
  • Try to another card reader or USB port and see if they have problems.
  • Connect your SD card to another computer and see if it’s damaged.
  • Check if your SD card is write-protected. If it’s your situation, please remove write-protected on SD card first.

▶ Fix 2. Add or change a drive letter

Windows automatically assigns a drive letter to a newly connected device. If it does not show in Windows Explorer, try to add or assign a new letter for it. The drive letter may be mess up due to faulty OS update or a laggy computer.

Step 1. Right-click Start menu and choose Disk Management option. 

Step 2. Right-click the SD card volume and click Change Drive Letter and Paths.

change drive letter and path

Step 3. In the pop-up window, click Add if your SD card don’t have a drive letter. Conversely, click Change.

click add

Step 4. Select Assign follow drive letter and choose a drive letter. Then, click OK.

assign the following drive letter

▶ Fix 3. Update or reinstall SD card drivers

Outdated or damaged drivers prevents SD card from being recognized. So you can choose to update or reinstall drivers.  

Step 1. Press Win+R key, input devmgmt.msc and press OK to start Device Manager.

Step 2. Expand Disk drives and find the corrupted SD card. Right-click it and click Uninstall device.


Or click Update drivers and Search automatically for drivers. Then, click Update drivers again, it will automatically download and install drivers for your SD card.


Step 3. Remove the SD card from your computer. Restart the computer and connect the SD card to your PC again. The system will automatically install the latest drivers for it.

▶ Fix 4. Use Windows repair tool

The Windows repair tool is a built-in error-checking tool for any file system errors, regardless of whether it’s an internal or external device, such SD card.

Step 1. Make sure your SD card is connected. Open File Explorer. Right-click your SD card and click Properties.

 Step 2. Go to the Tools tab and click Check under Error checking.​

Properties Tools Check

Step 3. It will ask you to repair this drive if it found errors on it. Click Repair drive.

repair errors checking

▶ Fix 5. Try Windows Troubleshooter

Windows Troubleshooter fixes hardware or driver related issue on SD card and make it being recognized.

Step 1. Connect your SD card to your computer. Go to Start > Settings > Update & Security  > Troubleshoot.

Step 2. Go to Hardware and Devices and select Run the troubleshooter.


▶ Fix 6. Use Diskpart

Step 1. Connect your SD card. Press Win + X and select Command Prompt (Admin).

Step 2. Type diskpart and press Enter to open this tool. Then, type the following commands one by one.

  • list disk
  • select disk 1 (Replace 1 with disk number of your SD card)
  • Recover

Diskpart Recover

Step 3. Type exit twice to leave Diskpart and Command Prompt.

▶ Fix 7. Show hidden files or folders

In some cases, your SD card may suddenly show empty or with only partial data after repairing a damaged SD card. If you cannot see any data on it, try to unhide them.

Step 1. Connect your SD card. Open Windows Explorer and click View > Options.

Step 2. In the Folder options window, click View. Go to Hidden files and folders and check Show hidden files or folders. Then, click OK and Apply.

Show Hidden Files Folders

▶ Fix 8. Run CHKDSK command

Step 1. Type cmd in the search box, select it and Run as administrator.​

Step 2. Type chkdsk d: /f /r. Replace d: with the drive letter of your corrupted disk.

Chkdsk f r

The /f parameter is to fix any found errors.
The /r parameter is able to fix any errors on the disk, search for bad sectors and mark the space as usuable.
To forcibly dismount the corrupted disk, you need to add the  /x parameter.
If you don’t add any parameter, this command only displays the disk status and does not fix any errors.

Step 3. If the corrupted disk is a system disk, it will ask you to run this command at the next system startup. Type yes and press Enter to restart the system now.

How to prevent SD Card damage & data loss

Sometimes, SD card damage or data loss can be avoided if you use SD card properly or have a good habit. Here are useful options to help you:

  • Always use a high quality SD card.
  • Format the new SD card immediately before using it and do this frequently when it is empty.
  • Format SD card card instead of deleting all the data when you want to clear it.
  • Use “Eject” to remove your SD card instead of doing this directly. It’s the only way to prevent ongoing read or write process from being interrupted.
  • Keep your SD card far away from extreme temperatures, dust, and water.
  • Use multiple cards instead of one huge card and store them in a safe place.
  • Stop using this SD card immediately when you realize data loss. For example, don’t add new data to this card, because it may overwrite the previous data.
  • Keep at least 3 copies of your files including the original copy and at least two backups. You can choose to backup SD card to computer, external hard drive, USB drive, network drive, etc. To include all the changes, it’s suggested to create schedule automatic backup in Windows 10, 11 or previous systems.
  • Use reliable data recovery software like MyRecover to recover SD card data without formatting.

Among them, the best practice is to backup SD card and data on it automatically with free backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard. It offers you daily, weekly, monthly, event trigger and USB plug in backup feature. The fastest backup interval is hourly backup.  

Step 1. Download and install Windows backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. Then, click Backup > Disk Backup to backup SD card including all the data.

disk backup

Step 2. Set the Task Name to distinguish this backup task from others. Click Add Disk to choose your SD card.

Add Disk

Step 3. Select a location to store all the data on your SD card. You can backup files in SD card to internal or external disk, USB flash drive, network drive, NAS device, Cloud Drive, etc.

Select Backup Destination

Step 4 (Optionally). Click Schedule Backup and enable DailyWeeklyMonthlyEvent triggers or USB plug in to backup SD card automatically. Thus, you will not lose any change made later.

Schedule Settings General

Step 5. Click Start Backup to backup SD card and data on it. After the first backup, it will backup only new or changed data in SD card.

FAQs about SD Card data recovery and fix

✍ Why do you need to format an SD card?

That’s because SD can only be used after you format it with a file system, such as FAT32. At the same time, over time, your SD card may be corrupted or damaged due to file system error and prevent you from accessing your files. In this case, you need to format SD card to make it usable again.

✍ What does it mean when SD card is corrupted?

The corrupted SD card means it has either software issues or physical problem stopping it from performing a request. Below are issues indicate it is corrupted:

  • You cannot open the image or video files on SD card.
  • The SD card shows empty, or you’ve noticed that your files are missing.
  • The SD card is detected either by your computer or camera.
  • The SD card or its partition becomes RAW.
  • Window says there is a read/write issue while trying to transfer data. Or the process takes forever.
  • You are asked to format this SD card before using it.

✍ How to recover data from a corrupted SD card

If you are sure your SD card is damaged, the first thing is to stop using it and recover SD data immediately. Any new data will overwrite data still on the SD card. To recover data from a corrupted SD card, the fastest way is to use a reliable data recovery software.

✍ How to fix corrupted SD card on Android?

To fix corrupted SD card on Android, you can choose to connect it to a computer. Then, format it in Windows Explorer, Disk Management, or Diskpart. If there are any important data, please recover data from corrupted SD card first.


That’s all for how to fix and recover SD card data without formatting. Stop using this problematic SD card and recover files from it right now helps to increase data recovery success rate. Learn the possible causes and follow the corresponding solution to fix SD card.

SD card data loss can be avoid if you have a good habit, such as, safely eject SD card, create one or more copies of your files, etc. Among them, backing up SD card will include all the data currently on it. If you enable a schedule backup, it also include changes made later. Try free backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard to create one if you don’t have.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.