SD Card Won’t Format? Fixed!

If your SD card won’t format, please figure out potential factors and get ways on this page. Besides, there’re other ways to format SD cards and prevent SD card data loss.

Penny

By Penny / Updated on May 22, 2023

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Why can’t I format my SD card?

A Secure Digital card is a small flash memory card designed for high-capacity memory and portable devices such as vehicle navigation systems, cellular phones, smartphones, digital cameras, music players, digital video camcorders, and personal computers.

In brief, SD cards are indispensable to our lives and careers. But careless treatment can cause errors or data loss.

   
   
   
       

About one week ago, I tried moving files from the SD card onto the computer, but that was impossible. I thought there was something wrong with this SD card, so I attempted to format it via Disk Management and CWM. But I kept getting the same error: can’t format SD card. And I also placed the SD card in a USB card reader and SD card reader to format it through computers. It seems to me that this SD card is locked in a previous state and is write-protected. What’s worse, it won’t let me format it. So how do you fix an SD card that won’t format? Thanks.

- A user from XDA-developers

For instance, if you attempt to access your inaccessible drives by disk formatting, you may receive the following error warning: Windows was unable to complete the format.

windows-was-unable-to-complete-the-format

When your SD card displays as RAW, you might receive the invitation to format your SD card before using it.

So why can’t I format my SD card? In this case, write protection, bad sectors, corrupted or damaged file systems, and virus attacks can prevent users from formatting their internal or external hard drives via File Explorer.

Part 1. How to recover data from unformatted SD cards?

Though disk formatting or disk initialization is an efficient way to open your previously inaccessible SD card, this action will erase all the existing data on your SD card.

Thus, if you can’t format SD cards, you have the possibility to recover deleted and lost files from unformatted drives via powerful data recovery software like MyRecover.

● Please avoid writing new data to your SD card after data loss because any newly added files could overwrite the free space that saves your deleted and missing files.   

Key features of MyRecover:   
All-inclusive: Apply to a variety of data loss scenarios such as deletion, disk formatting, system crashes, or virus attacks.
High-efficiency: Recover 200+ types of files such as MS Office and WPS files, folders, compressed files, photos, audio, songs, videos, websites, etc.   
Advanced scanning method: MyRecover runs Quick Scan & Deep Scan automatically to search all the recoverable files. Specify the filename, saved path, date, or size to filter your needed files.
Convenience: Retain the original filename, path, and format for the deleted files.   
Excellent compatibility: Support NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems.

Don’t hesitate to download MyRecover on your Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, or Server PC!

Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Connect the SD card to your Windows. After launching MyRecover, select your connected SD card and click the “Start Scan” button.

external-hard-drive-start-scan

Step 2. It will automatically scan your SD card and display all the found files. You can filter and preview needed data according to  Document Type (eg: Word documents)

external-hard-drive-scanning

Step 3. Go to the Other Missing Files folder and select the data you want. Then click “Recover x files” to begin the SD card data recovery process.

external-hard-drive-recover-files

Notes:

  • After recovery, you’d better store these retrieved files in another partition instead of the original SD card.
  • Upgrading MyRecover to the Professional or Technician edition is a more cost-effective solution if you desire a batch recovery of deleted and missing documents.

Part 2. How do you fix a SD card that won’t format?

My Micro SD card won’t format, so how do I fix my Micro SD card that won’t format? According to the possible reasons, there’re four feasible fixes for you to solve this issue.

Fix 1. Change drive letter and paths to find your SD card

Sometimes, we can’t format SD cards because the SD card is not accessible. To ensure your Windows OS can recognize and display your SD card, you’d better check whether there’s a drive letter for your SD card or not. Let’s show how it works.

Step 1. Connect your SD card to the Windows. Then press “Win + X” and select “Disk Management” to open this utility.

disk-management

Step 2. Right-click on your SD card and choose the “Change Drive Letter and Paths” option.

change-drive-letter-and-path

Step 3. If there’s no drive letter, select “Add” to assign a new drive letter to your SD card.

Step 4. Select the “Assign the following drive letter” option. Please ensure the newly selected drive letter is different from all the existing drive letters.

assign-the-following-drive-letter

Fix 2. Run Diskpart to format the SD card from RAW to NTFS

If you’re unable to format external hard drives from RAW to NTFS using File Explorer, diskpart is another feasible fix because it can manage your PC’s drives (disks, partitions, or volumes). Those users who can’t format SD cards also can refer to this solution.   

Notes:✎...
To avoid data loss, please recover data from unformatted SD cards via MyRecover first. Then you’re ready to perform disk formatting.

Step 1. After connecting your SD to the computer, press “Win + R” and type “diskpart” in the Run box. Then hit “Enter” or click “OK” to open it.

Step 2. Type the following command prompt in the window one by one and hit “Enter” after each line.

  • list disk
  • select x (x refers to the disk number of your connected SD card.)
  • clean(The clean command can wipe out all the data on your SD card.)
  • create partition primary
  • format fs=ntfs quick (or format fs=fat32 quick)
  • exit

format

Fix 3. Format the SD card via Disk Management

If you can’t format SD cards with diskpart, you can seek help from another handy utility, Disk Management because this system tool is good at executing advanced storage tasks.   

Step 1. Connect your SD card to the Windows. Then press “Win + X” and select “Disk Management” to open this utility.

disk-management

Step 2. Right-click on your SD card and click the “Format” button.

disk-management-format

Step 3. Select the NTFS file system and click “OK” to save your changes.

format

Besides, this powerful partition recovery software-AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard also can help you format and convert file systems without paying.

Download Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. After running this free demo on your Windows PC, right-click on your selected RAW disk and select the “Format Partition” option.

format-partition

Step 2. Select the FAT32 file system and click the “OK” button.

formate-partition-option

Please click “Apply” to save these changes and wait patiently.

Fix 4. Remove write protection from SD card won’t format

As mentioned above, write protection is among the possible factors for unformatted SD cards. Write protection indicates that your SD card is set to read-only mode.

To write new data or modify your SD card, you need to refer to the following steps to unlock SD cards and remove write protection.

Step 1. Insert your SD into the Windows. Then press “Win + X” and select “Windows PowerShell (Admin)” from the pop menu.

Step 2. Type the following command prompt in turn. Please remember to hit “Enter” after typing each command line.

  • diskpart
  • list disk
  • select disk x (x refers to the disk number of your connected SD card.)
  • attributes disk clear readonly

diskpart-list-disk-command

Step 3. After seeing Disk attributes cleared successfully, you can type “exit” in the window to end this process.

Further reading: How to protect my SD card data?

Undeniably, data loss is inevitable in our lives and careers, but data loss can bring great inconvenience for us. So how do I secure my SD card data? At this point, there’re some practical data loss prevention measures for your reference.

  • Clean your SD card slots at times.
  • Be away from high temperatures or humid environments such as sunlight and water.
  • After seeing Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media, you’re ready to eject SD cards.
  • Please don’t eject or remove your SD card as it reads, writes, or transfers data.
  • Run Windows Defender and other latest anti-virus software to protect your PC.
  • Please think twice before deletion.
  • Don’t empty your Recycle Bin frequently.
  • Only regular backups can prevent data loss at the source. If you prefer easier backup & restoration steps, AOMEI Backupper is better than Windows features.

This free backup software for Windows protects your data via different types of backups such as File Backup, Disk Backup, Partition Backup, etc.

In this scenario, valuable backups created by AOMEI Backupper can exempt you from disk formatting. And you can get your desired SD card data from File Backup directly.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper on your Windows PC and select the “File Backup” option.

file-backup

Step 2. Click “Add Folder/Add File” to add the folder or files you want to back up.

add-folders-files

Step 3. Click “Schedule Backup” to enable Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers or USB plug as you prefer. Then click the “Start Backup” button.

schedule-settings-general

Related Q&A about RAW data recovery & SD card partition recovery

Your SD card might be in a RAW state as you need to format it before using it. Are you interested in RAW data recovery? Please read this part to get RAW data recovery & SD card tips.  

Penny
Penny · Editor
Penny works as an editor at AOMEI Technology, while she's a tester and editor for AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. She enjoys helping users with data recovery issues on Windows and iPhones using simple and practical solutions. Outside of work, she has a strong affection for pets, particularly giant pandas.