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Memory Card Not Detected by Phone. Why Android Won’t Recognize an SD Card

Author: Vlad Brown

Data recovery specialist, guest author, journalist.

Updated on 09/27/2019

A frequent problem occurs when one’s phone won’t read an SD card, which results in all the data being stored on the phone’s internal memory, bypassing the memory card. While your SD card remains unused, the internal memory fills up , and your device’s productivity declines. No wonder a lot of people ask about this problem!

This article helps those using mobile devices with memory card.s It is geared primarily for smartphones and tablets, but also photo cameras, mp3 players, laptops and others.

Reasons an SD card is not detected:

  1. Wrong format or SD card reading errors
  2. SD card is not compatible with device
  3. Wrong data transfer mode on Android
  4. Memory card has loose springs
  5. Application error on Android
  6. Memory card broken or damaged

Other Troubleshooting Methods:

  1. Change your file manager
  2. Format your memory card
  3. Check SD card compatibility
  4. Use a card reader
  5. Check the card for physical damage

My sd card not reading: QA

SD Card reading errors or incorrect file system format t

Possible Causes:

  1. Your SD card has bad sectors or read / write errors.
  2. Your mobile phone doesn’t recognize the SD card after your formatting.
  3. SD card file system is unknown. (It may have been previously used with a different operating system.)

How to fix

1. Find out the size of your memory card. If the capacity of the microSD is over 32 GB, it is likely to have been formatted to exFAT. Not all Android versions support this file system.

2. A quick, but advanced technique would be to try restarting the phone in recovery mode, and selecting “Wipe cache partition” in the Android service menu. This will clear the SD card and format it to FAT32, which is the most suitable for storing files on a phone.

Note: We would NOT recommend the above solution to inexperienced users because if a wrong partition is formatted, all data from the internal memory of the mobile phone will be lost.

3. An easier and safer way to format an SD card is by using a computer. You’ll need a card reader and the SD Formatter app that will help you format the memory card properly.

Download SD Formatter

You’d be better off NOT using the standard formatting software from Windows. Their features are considerably limited compared to SD Formatter.

4. You can try low-level formatting. Not all manufacturers offer this for their software. Checkout whether it is an option by looking on the website of your memory card manufacturer.

sdformatter

5. To fix reading / writing errors on an SD card, I recommend this tutorial:

How to fix SD card errors

Memory card is not compatible with your mobile device

Symptom: Your phone is not reading your new microSD card. As an example, you might see a system message reading "SD card not inserted." 

Causes:

  1. Your mobile device doesn’t support new memory cards.
  2. The memory card has a capacity that is too large or it uses unknown specifications. Either way the phone is not reading the SD card and doesn’t recognize it as a memory device.

How to fix: Examine the manual that goes with your phone and make sure you are using an SD card compatible with your system requirements.

mtp

Wrong data transfer mode on Android

Symptom: You connect your phone, which has a memory card inserted, to a computer using a USB cable, and select the “Mass Storage” option, which results in the microSD card not being detected on your computer or laptop.

How to fix: Instead of “Mass Storage,” select the “Media Transfer” option when connecting your phone to the computer. The Explorer should display the data stored on the memory card.

SD card has loose springs or lost tracks of the socket (broken memory card)

Symptom: If your memory card is not properly connected or has shifted, your phone doesn’t see the data stored on it.

How to fix: Remove the SD card from your phone and re-insert it so the SD card springs connect properly with the SD socket.

If SD card springs have worn out, you can get new ones cheaply and replace them yourself. This requires minimal experience in repairing and replacing spare parts of course.

It is quite possible that tracks on the card were removed, and your phone doesn’t see the broken memory card at all. A common reason is the natural wear and tear on your phone. In this case, we’d recommend handing in your device for repair or getting a new one.

MicroSD card not recognized because of application error

Symptom: Particular Android software won’t recognize an SD card. Other apps read the SD card and write data on it no problem.

How to fix: Android won’t detect the memory card because  your device’s internal memory is set as default storage. Go to the settings of the app you have problems with (for example Gallery or Camera) and set SD card as the destination.

storage settings

Memory card is broken 

Symptoms:

  1. As a result of mechanical damage your phone/tablet doesn’t see your SD card or the latter stopped working.
  2. Your phone is not recognizing an SD card and it’s not recognizable when inserted in other mobile devices.

What you can do: Alas, you can’t do anything about a broken SD card. Waste no time looking for the reasons it broke and get yourself a new one with specifications suitable for your phone or tablet. Thank goodness it doesn’t cost too much.

If your SD card is under warranty and looks like new with no visible damage, try taking it back to the shop. If you’re lucky, they’ll give you a new one.

Change your file manager

Failures with built-in firmware utilities happen quite often. Therefore, when some files aren't shown on a memory card - for example, photos from the phone’s camera have suddenly disappeared - it makes sense to search for them via another app.

Depending on the file manager pre-installed on your phone, search for its counterpart in Play Market. At the time of writing this guide, the following apps were considered best based on stability indicators and the ability to read the maximum number of popular file formats: ES File Explorer, Solid Explorer, Total Commander, and MiXplorer. All of the listed programs have approximately the same interface and similar capabilities for sorting, searching, and configuring how to display hidden files.

This method is easy and is also suitable for cases when a virus hides files, or a built-in Chinese commander misbehaves. In more complicated situations, the change of a file manager is unlikely to help.

Format your memory card

The first phones with memory card support formatted the cards for themselves, i.e. using their own format. After reinserting an SD card from Nokia to Samsung, for example, you had to format the storage drive, otherwise it would open only on a computer via a card reader. Modern smartphones and tablets face the same problems less often, but they still occur from time to time.

Before you proceed to formatting, take into account the fact that formatting destroys all the data stored on the SD card. There is a chance you can recover it partially via specialized apps, but it isn't always the case. We suggest you trying to open the card on your computer before formatting it in order to create a backup copy of the documents.

The formatting menu is often located in the settings, under the tab called "Memory Management," "Memory," "External memory," etc.

Check compatibility if your card has never been used with this device before

Manufacturers of mobile device memory cards usually claim their products have universal compatibility. In real life, not every phone will work with every single memory card. If some or all the files aren't showing up, you have to check the compatibility with your accessory or smartphone manufacturer.

Before blaming everything on incompatibility, however, check whether your external memory will open on other devices, like tablet PCs, cameras and phones with a suitable connector. If not, the accessory is likely to be defective or simply non-working.

Connect it to a PC through a card reader and check for errors via chkdsk app

Software and hardware error types occur with both hdd and SD cards. These errors can also cause problems with access to individual memory clusters. In such case,  you would be able to see files in the structure of an open catalogue, but you wouldn't be able to open them. In at least half of such cases, checking for errors via a standard utility chkdsk in Windows usually helps.

This utility is very simple to use: 

  1. Connect your storage device through a USB card reader.
  2. Open "My computer"and right-click on the SD card shortcut.
  3. Select "Properties" in the context menu which appears. 
  4. In the opened "Properties" window, find "Service" and select the "Check disk for errors" option. Checking and fixing processes can take from a minute to half an hour, if your memory card is loaded and is of a big capacity.

Check the card for physical damage and if you see any, buy a new one

Unfortunately, you can't always recover a broken memory card, especially if the damage is of mechanical nature. An accidental fall can disable an SD card in less than 1% of cases, but anyone can be that "lucky one." When scratches, chips and other defects coincide with the inability to open the file system of your smartphone SD card, it's a solid reason to buy a new external memory storage device.

If you doubt the quality of your diagnosis, you can contact any mobile accessories service center. The average service life of an SD card is a year and a half; the more actively you use it (i.e. delete and add files), the shorter its guaranteed service life is.

Bottom Line

As a rule, problems with displaying files in an Android operating system happen due to software errors or hardware incompatibility. In half of the cases, those problems can be solved by reloading, reflashing, and formatting the storage drive.In the other half, there is only one thing you can do: throw away the faulty SD card and buy a new one. You don't have to carry your smartphone / tablet to a service center and pay for diagnostics in order to find out what happened in your case. It is highly possible you can find out the reason the files from your SD card aren't displayed in Android all on your own.

Micro sd card not detected by phone: Questions - answers

1. My phone is Samsung Galaxy A5 2016. I inserted my newly bought SD card Qumo (2 GB) into the second slot of my phone, but the device can’t read this SD card neither via phone menu, nor using a cable to connect it to the computer.

2. My phone is a Samsung Grand Galaxy Duos. I brought a new SD card almost a week back and suddenly it stopped recognizing it and shows mount SD card notification. What can i do? My SD card is from the Cross company.

Answer. Qumo memory cards don’t have great reputation. However, 2 GB cards tend to have no problems in working with phones.

Connect your SD card to the computer using a card reader. If the computer doesn’t detect the card (the disk is not displayed in the Explorer), hand in the SD card to the seller and get your money refunded.

If your SD card isn’t recognized only by your phone and is read by the computer, formatting it to FAT should work.


1. I dropped my phone and lost all photos from the Camera folder stored on the memory card. Can I recover them? The rest of the folders remained intact.

2. My Samsung Galaxy A3 stopped recognizing my 16GB microSD. For almost half a year it’s been in the phone, all photos taken by Camera were saved to it automatically. Once this card was inserted, it hasn’t been taken out. I’ve been using this phone for about a year. Before that I had had another, 8GB, memory card.

Р.S. I put this microSD into another phone but that one doesn’t see it either, nor does my computer. What should I do and why my Samsung sd card not working? It has all my important photos and videos taken for the last half a year.

3. I ordered a USB storage device (i-flash) from eBay. Yesterday I received it, plugged it into my phone – working both in it and my computer. Today I wanted to transfer video from my phone to it, and when the transfer started I left the room. As I came back, the app was shut and the device was recognized neither by my phone nor by computer, and memory card not working. What shall I do?

4. I have DIGMA Optima tablet, and it doesn’t see my memory stick after I’d erased my SD Card in the settings. I restarted my phone, turned it on, pulled out and inserted the SD Card back, all in vain. Another phone kind of got sight of it but still doesn’t detect it. Is there anything I can do about it?

5. I bought a 32GB USB stick from Aliexpress. It was working alright, and then photos which were saved to it got cut by half or there was grey screen instead of them. In the end, the SD Card hasn’t been detected by my phone. My computer can see it but cannot open it. I get a notification like “Please, insert the disk into drive”. I’ve tried all kinds of things from the Internet, many programs. Some of them don’t see the stick, others do, but can’t format it.

It’d be great if you could help me get it recovered.

6. memory card not showing in mobile, devices don’t see (read) it. It’s new, just bought it recently. In the beginning I had no issues with it, but later my phone (Philips s308) wouldn’t read it every now and then. My laptop would recognize it though. Later the card stopped being seen by my phone and then by all other devices. SD Card doesn’t contradict system requirements, what can be the problem?

7. [SD card not detected]

I removed my SD card mistakenly while formating. When I had inserted it again, my phone didn't recognize sd card.I don't know what happened.

I have Moto 2G.. Untill last week I able to see external storage on my phone. Due to issue happened I need to unmount the memory card. re-insert it later unable to find the external drive, micro sd not detected as well. what to do?


I have been using my sd card in my phone for a while. I unmounted it to look at the pictures on my computer. When I put off back in my phone my phone would not recognize the card. So I could not remount my as card. This means my phone is missing data and info. I want it back!


[Memory card cannot detect]

I have my Samsung Galaxy 7. I bought new memory card mSm.HK 32Gb. Then when i inserted it to my phone, the sd card doesn't show up… I also tried to insert it to my laptop using card reader but nothing happened


[4gig memory card not reading]

Hi i have a 4gig memory which i was using on my Samsung phone. it just stopped showing up. its not reading on phone or computer. when inserted into computer it doesn't read and asks to please insert a disk into the drive that the memory card is located. please help.



[My phone doesn't recognize sd card]

I have Huawei y 5, my when I insert my SD card into phone, it was recognized for several minutes. After that my phone doesn't recognize it. If I restart my phone it recognized by phone for limited time. Any body knows what is the problem and how I fix it?


[Sd card not recognised properly]

I have a nokia asha 501. I once connected my phone to my pc but after that my sd card wasn't recognised on my phone . When i install it on any other device the device recognises it but after a few seconds it doesn't i even tried installing it on the pc but the same things happen . What should I do??


[SD card not detected]

I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 mini with a 4Gb SD card inserted and it's worked just fine until yesterday. Now it suddenly says there's no SD card and when I go to the storage settings it says "Insert SD card". I tried to remove it and put it back in but no luck. Then I tried to put it in my boyfriend's phone and it worked normally! Also I got this issue after attempting to install Eternal Arena, my phone said there wasn't enough space and then it said SD card was mounted wrong or something. What's the problem?


My SD card is detected by my phone though and I have highlighted that under storage as my default storage folder yet still there is this frequent message that comes "storage almost full" but there is more space on the SD card but it doesn't read and always even if I have highlighted the SD card its the phone storage that reads


[My sd card cannot recognize by the phone as I inserted it on my phone, it didn't work]

I have a micro SD card 32GB and I inserted it always on my new phone and it works, when I inserted it there's a notification ""TOUCH TO EJECT "" so what I did was I ejected it not knowing what it really means or what will be the result is, then it says ""SAFE TO REMOVE"" so I removed my memory and that was the last time I used my memory, one day I inserted it again but suddenly it won't work, it didn't recognize as I inserted my memory card. So what I'm gonna do how to get back or how to recognize back or how recover my memory card?


[Sd card not show my phone]

my phone not recognizing sd card (Samsung j2 16) but show others phones and when i format it computer it automatically reject this even it does not format cmd. How can i solve it?


I bought a 32GB sd card. I used it for about a month until it suddenly could not be read by my phone. I tried it on my PC but it would not read as well. I hope you could help me out with this. Thank you.


Since 2 weeks I am receiving the message that my sd card is not supporting but I ignored…but suddenly it is not detected by my phone …also in my files I am unable to find sd card documents or pictures. Today I searched for encryption of sd card but they said that no sd card is inserted. I have really very important pictures n everything in mu Sd card plsss help!!!!


My 8GB memory card cannot read on my phone anymore. I had saved many pictures in it and I'm not sure why it cannot read because it's not broken. The memory card is old but was never used so I used it to put my important pictures, it did not give me any problems except now whereby the phone cannot even recognise it. I tried it on another phone and it still cannot read the memory card.

Answer. Your SD card might be damaged or not recognized by Android. Check if it works when connected to the computer using a card reader. Another thing might be that the memory card shifted in its slot, say when you dropped your phone, so check that out as well.

If your SD card is not damaged, you can recover photos using any data recovery software.


1. Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (China) uses only its internal memory while my micro SD card is not detected by my phone. I’ve tried everything… ticked boxes in the settings, inserted it in another phone, formatted – nothing works.

2. Htc rhyme s510b, my phone won’t see my SD Card and won’t save downloads to the internal storage either. I navigate to Settings – Device maintenance – Storage – Storage Settings – Device Storage – and get inactive line. I can’t figure out how to change it back to the internal memory of the phone. Do you know why my sd card is not detecting?

Answer. The problem might be the app which saves files on SD card. Check in the settings of a certain app where it saves files – to undetected SD card or internal memory of your tablet/smartphone.


I bought a 4 GB micro SD for my phone, connected it to the computer using a card reader, copied files to it and inserted it in my Microsoft Lumia 530. Windows says the device works incorrectly and doesn’t read the memory card although it works in the phone. This happens to all my media and devices. I checked the SD card on many computers before inserting it into my phone and it was ok. So the memory card is not detected on computer and only works in the mobile device.

Answer. Format your SD card either using the phone or data recovery software (we wrote about it above). If this fails to help, go to Disk Management in Windows and check if your memory card is mounted when connected to the computer, or if the volume is displayed in the list. Create a new partition on the card and format it to FAT using SD Memory Card Formatter if necessary.


Samsung Galaxy A3 2015 doesn’t read my SD card. Formatting it to all possible formats didn’t help. Connected to the computer it works perfectly. Why is my phone not reading my SD card? Should I change the settings to detect SD memory in mobile?

Answer.

  1. Go to the Settings – Storage.
  2. Check out SD card section.
  3. Run file manager, does it see files from the memory card?

One reason can be a lost contact between the memory card and phone. Check if your device reads other SD cards, and if not – hand it in to repair.


My phone Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 SM-T331 doesn’t recognize my SD card: total space – 0 bytes, available space – 0 bytes. I inserted this very SD card into another device: total space – 14.57, available space – 14.57. Trying another SD card with my tablet – same thing, and the phone does see it.

Answer. If there are important files on your memory card, copy them to your computer. After that format the memory card and scan it for errors. If the situation happens again, update the firmware of your tablet or do a hard reset.


After the update my phone HTC desire 620g dual sim keeps losing contact with my SD Card. It can happen, say, when I listen to music and it stops playing because “file can’t be opened”. However, I still can read the titles of the tracks. How to repair undetected micro sd card, what are possible causes of it?

Answer. Check the type of your audio files. Perhaps your player can’t play the files in this format, so the problem is not necessarily caused by SD Card reading issues.

If the files format is compatible with your player, scan your memory card for errors and/or format it.


I have Samsung Galaxy S4 NEO. I bought a 16GB SD Card, and 5 months later it stopped seeing all my games. There’s no problem with videos, photos and the rest of the files. In the settings of the memory card everything is like it should be – total space, available space. Help me out!

Answer. The simplest way out is reinstalling games from Google Play. If user data is stored in the memory of your phone or on SD Card, games will work as they used to. If no – try recovering them using recovery soft.


I have Samsung Galaxy Gio S-5660. Some half a year ago I fixed my charger port and after that only yesterday I turned on the phone again. Both SIM Card and SD Card were in it. As I turned it on, my phone didn’t read sd card on Android, although I hadn’t had any problems with it before. It had contacts, e-books and tons of photos. What can I do to bring it back to life?

I took my device to the repair in case the problem was the memory card slot, but it was ok and reads a new card straight away.

Answer. Your SD Card can have damaged lead or pins so your memory card not detected in mobile. If examination doesn’t detect any damage, get the card scanned for reading errors. Don’t format it, otherwise you may never be able to restore files from it.


I’ve been using an SD Card as internal memory for my ZTE blade A510. After the reset of my phone (SD Card was in it during the reset) the sd card cannot be detected in any device.

Answer. You need to format and mount your microSD as internal storage again. If you can open it on computer, reserve all the data to the hard drive.


I had brought a new SD card and installed it in my phone - Huawei Y6II compact. It was working fine and was perfectly doing it's job for a few weeks but all of a sudden my phone stopped reading my SD. I have tried installing it in other devices but it's not reading the SD card. I had apps, videos, audio and photos which were transferred on to the SD card. I am unable to understand what happened and how I am supposed to access my data as I don't know if it has been deleted or not? How to fix sd card that wont read?

Answer. Insert your micro sd card not detected by phone into the card reader and connect it to your computer. Check the available space on the card. If it is different from the factory parameters, your data might still be on it. This can be fixed either by scanning it for errors or using data recovery tools for SD Card.


my memory card is not working. so I've erased everything now. the SD card no longer detected. please help! Huawei Ascend Y600

Answer. Wiping your memory card wouldn’t solve the issue anyway. Your phone needs formatting in the filesystem compatible with Android. We’d suggest doing it on computer/laptop and using the tool SDFormatter.


I have a 32gb sd card that I had been using in my Samsung galaxy s5. I upgraded to the Samsung galaxy s7 and inserted the same sd card however my new phone is not recognizing the sd card. I reinserted the sd card into the old phone again and same thing. Why is my sd card not working on my phone Is there a way to fix it?

Answer. You must have not ejected your SD Card safely (if your phone was on), which caused reading errors. To fix them, scan your card for errors and get them fixed by connecting it to the computer using a card reader. If it doesn’t help, format SD Card to exFAT or FAT32.


After an update, my phone (HTC desire 620g dual sim) constantly loses its sd card. It happens in the following way: for example, I'm listening to music and then suddenly it stops playing and the phone says: " the file couldn't be opened." But I can read the songs titles. What could be the reason for it?

The answer. Check the format of audio files: it's likely that your player doesn't recognize them. So the problem doesn't necessarily have to be with memory card reading. If everything is alright with the files format, check your memory card for errors and / or format it.  


I have Samsung Galaxy S4 NEO. I bought a memory card (16 GB), but after 5 months of usage at one point it stopped seeing all the games that were stored on it. When the phone sees videos, photos and everything else without any problems. In the settings > memory > memory card the total amount of space and the amount of free space is written and everything is as usual. Please help me to fix this problem!

The answer. The easiest way is to reinstall the games. This can be done via Google Play app. If your user data is still stored on the phone memory or the sd card, the games will work as previously. If not, then try to recover them via suitable recovery apps.  


My smartphone is Samsung Galaxy Gio S-5660. About six months ago I repaired the charging socket and since then I haven't turned the phone on until yesterday. It had a SIM card and a memory card inserted in. When I turned it on, I found out that the smartphone wouldn't see the memory card. There have never been any problems with it before. I store contacts, books and a lot of photos on the memory card. How can I retrieve it?

I took it to repair service as I thought that the slot for a memory card was out of order, but that wasn't the case: it recognizes a new card immediately.

The answer. Your sd card may have damaged pins or contacts. If you haven't noticed any damage while examining the card, check it for reading errors. But you shouldn't format it, as you won't be able to recover the files after it.   


I made my memory card an internal drive on ZTE blade A510. After resetting the phone (the sd card was inserted in the phone all this time), it stopped working on all devices.

The answer. You have to format and mount the microSD as an internal drive again. If you can open it on your computer, transfer all the data from it to a hard drive.  


[SD card not reading]

I had brought a new SD card and installed it in my phone - Huawei Y6II compact. It was working fine and was perfectly doing it's job for a few weeks but all of a sudden my phone stopped reading my SD. I have tried installing it in other devices but it's not reading the SD card. I had apps, videos, audio and photos which were transferred on to the SD card. I am unable to understand what happened and how I am supposed to access my data as I don't know if it has been deleted or not?

The answer. Insert the memory card in a card reader and connect it to your computer. Check the amount of free space on the memory card. If it's different from the claimed one, most likely the data is still stored there. You can fix your problem with the memory card either by checking it for errors or via file recovery programs.  


my phone wasn't working with the SD card. so I've erased everything now. the SD card is no longer detected. please help! Huawei Ascend Y600

The answer. Deleting files from your memory card wouldn't solve the problem anyway. You have to format your phone by selecting a suitable for it file system. The easiest way to do it is via a computer / laptop and SDFormatter program.  


I have a 32gb sd card that I had been using in my Samsung galaxy s5. I upgraded to the Samsung galaxy s7 and inserted the same sd card however my new phone is not recognizing the sd card. I reinserted the sd card into the old phone again and same thing. No longer recognized the sd card. Is there a way to fix it?

The answer. Probably, you've removed the sd card incorrectly (without turning off your phone) and that could have caused reading errors. Which you can fix by connecting your memory card through a card reader and checking it for errors via a standard chkdsk utility. If this doesn't work, format your sd card to exFAT or FAT32.  

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