How to Fix Corrupted Memory Card: Best Apps

Submitted on 10/11/2017


  1. Types of SDHC card corruption
  2. Symptoms of a corrupted SD card, common errors
  3. How to recover a corrupted SD card using CMD and CHKDSK 
  4. SD card formatting with SD Formatter
  5. How to recover data on a corrupted memory stick
  6. Why a memory stick can’t always be recovered

Types of SDHC card corruption

The most common cases leading to an SD card being not recognized by mobile devices are as follows:

  • An SD card is physically damaged
  • Erroneous partitions in the File Allocation Table of an SD card:
    • as a result of failed file transfer (copy-paste or Ctrl + X)
    • system crash on your computer (sudden power off) or on mobile phone
  • Unknown reasons

How to recognize that your SD card is corrupted

  Let’s list the typical symptoms of a corrupted SD card:

  1. Photos and videos open incorrectly or fragmentarily
  2. SD card cannot be read or is not recognized by the phone/PC
  3. You get a message on your phone that you cannot save files on your SD card
  4. SD card needs formatting but throws a message “SD card is not formatted, do you want to format it now?”
  5. OS shows reading errors, doesn’t respond when you try to connect your SD card to the computer

How to repair corrupted memory card by command prompt

To fix a corrupted memory card you can use Command Prompt and chkdsk command; this utility is part of any Windows version.

How to use chkdsk to fix a corrupted micro SD card:

  1. Open Run menu via Start or using hotkey Win + R.
  2. Enter cmd
  3. In Command Prompt enter chkdsk [drive letter]: /f /r
  4. Press Y to confirm chkdsk

Keys in chkdsk:

  • Parameter /f –  fixes errors on the memory card
  • Parameter /r – fixes corrupted sectors on the disk

Chkdsk has other check parameters which can be viewed using switch /? .

If you don’t want to use a console utility to fix a corrupted memory card, another way is GUI shell. It can be opened in the Explorer:

  1. Start - Computer/This PC
  2. Right click on the SD card drive –  Properties
  3. Tools tab – Check (now) button

How to recover corrupted sd card using chkdsk (Windows)

As you can see, here you have the same options as in the console version of the utility.


Memory card formatting using SD Formatter repair tool

Common SD card issues are caused by incorrect formatting. As a result,

  • Damaged SD card cannot be read
  • It is not recognized when connected to certain computer configurations
  • memory cards  with NTFS filesystem are  not available for write access on Mac OS.

To avoid filesystem conflicts we suggest that you would always format your memory card to Fat or exFat (Extended FAT). It guarantees reading/writing files to use them on Windows, Linux and Mac OS.

The free software SD Memory Card Formatter comes in handy here. It performs SD formatting, and this is all you want from it. SD Formatter does the job better than standard Windows formatting tools which are actually not that suitable for SD/SDHC cards formatting.

How to fix a memory card in SD Formatter:

  1. Download SD Formatter for Mac OS or Windows.
  2. Launch the app having acquired Administrator Rights.
  3. To connect your memory card to the computer, use a built-in or external card reader.
  4. In SD Card Format Tool settings specify not 'Quick' but 'Full format'.
SD Memory Card Formatter app for Windows
SDFormatter - micro sd card repair tool for Windows / Mac OS


This is not the only utility which works with memory sticks, USB Disk Storage Format Tool being a great alternative. It is free and offers the same features: formatting to (ex)FAT/NTFS and file tree/clusters check for errors.

The disadvantage of formatting as a method of fixing errors is pretty obvious: you’ll lose all the files stored on the memory card. Yet if your priority is to fix a corrupted SD card and get it functional again, there is hardly any other solution than formatting.

Can you repair sd card without formatting (if the memory card asks to format)?

Again, a damaged memory card can be storing valuable files which can sometimes be recovered but in a number of cases are irretrievable.

One of the most common cases is when the operating system suggests by far not the best solution – to format your memory card which means removing all the information from it. 

What can you do in case your memory device (or Windows, to be more precise) wants formatting? Try to repair the corrupted/damaged SD card without formatting so as to save the files on it. 

How to repair damaged sd card without formatting

How to recover data from corrupted memory card without formatting

  1. Dismiss formatting request.
  2. Use recovery software (such as PhotoRec or TestDisk) to scan the memory card.
  3. Save the recovered files on your computer.

How to fix a corrupted micro sd card using PhotoRec: find out here.

Is the likelihood high that the damage of the card will be irreversible?

Yes it is! Corrupted memory card can’t be fixed if the errors were caused by mechanical damage:

  • If you dropped your memory card or stepped on it,
  • If it got liquid spilt on it,
  • if your phone catches fire, the heat damages the memory card.

In case the problem is hardware-related, say it’s a Hard Drive or USB flash drive, the microchip can be replaced in a lab. Yet a really tiny SD card can’t be fixed, and the only solution is to replace a corrupted memory card with a new one. Visible mechanical damage, however, excludes free replacement under warranty. 

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