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SD card troubleshooting guide

Is your SD card acting up, preventing you from accessing those hundreds of pictures you took during your last vacation? Don’t worry; our SD card troubleshooting guide is here to help you solve your SD card problems.

My SD Card Is Not Showing Up

Have you ever experienced the following situation? After a day of using your camera to take pictures and record videos, you finally get home, excited to transfer everything to your computer for editing and backup. You insert the SD card that contains the pictures and the recorded footage, expecting the Autoplay window to pop up and present you with the option to view the content of your SD card. But nothing happens, your memory card not showing up. So, you try again, but the same thing happens again — no pop-up window, no sound notification, nothing at all. You inspect the SD card for damage, but everything seems as it should be. 

Where’s the problem?

Instead of blaming the SD card, make sure that your SD card reader is in a good working order. If you can, grab another SD card and see if your reader recognizes it. If it does, the reader is most likely okay, which means that your SD card is to blame. But if it doesn’t, something is wrong with your reader.

The simplest solution to most computer problems is the restart button. Computers and operating systems are so complicated that the little pixies that run the show sometimes get confused and forget how to do their job. A simple restart is often enough to make things work again, and it doesn’t take more than a minute.

If your SD card reader doesn’t work even after a computer restart, go to the manufacturer’s website and download the most recent drivers. Operating system updates may break the compatibility with older drivers, which is just one of many reasons why you should keep your computer up to date.

Finally, always make sure to insert the SD card all the way in. After some time, the contact pins inside your SD card reader and on your SD card may become a little worn out, but an extra push is usually all it takes to make the card register again.

My SD Card Is Corrupted

SD cards have become incredibly cheap over the years, and they are produced in huge numbers to satisfy the demand from smartphone owners, photographers, drone users, and just about everyone else who owns a portable electronic device. Manufacturers don’t expect average SD cards to last forever, and neither do consumers.

SD card corruption happens because flash memory inherently has a limited number of write/erase cycles. When you start to near the end of the expected lifespan of your SD card, bad sectors are likely to appear.

What are bad sectors?

They are tiny portions of flash memory that cannot be used to store data anymore. Bad sectors can appear at any time, which is why SD cards come with spare sectors that serve as replacements for bad sectors. When you run out of spare sectors, that’s when SD card corruption happens.

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The simplest solution is to format your SD card. An SD card format gives the formatted SD card an opportunity to avoid using bad sectors, at least until new bad sectors appear again.

You can also use the CHKDSK utility, which can check the integrity of your SD card and fix various file system errors. Simply open the Start menu, type “cmd,” right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator to open a Command Prompt window as an admin. Then, type “chkdsk h: /f” and hit enter.

NOTE: replace the h: with the letter Windows has assigned to your SD card.

My SD Card Is Physically Damaged

Most cases of physical SD card damage involve damage to the plastic shell that protects the flash memory chip inside. If the damage is so bad that you can’t even insert the SD card into a reader, you’re dealing with a serious problem that could cost you hundreds of dollars to fix.

Most data recovery companies with the equipment to recover data from damaged SD cards charge at least $500 for the recovery of around 16 GB of data. You could, of course, attempt to repair the damaged SD card yourself, but your chances of success are slim.

If you notice that your SD card is damaged (but still functional), we highly recommend you transfer all data from it as soon as possible and avoid using it for anything serious.

My SD Card Got Wet

STOP USING IT RIGHT NOW! An SD card can be submerged under water and still work just fine, but only if you don’t use it before it completely dries out. Even the tiniest droplet of moisture trapped on the inside can be enough to cause a short circuit, rendering your SD card useless.

To speed up the process, toss your SD card into a bag of rice. The rice will suck out all moisture from your card. You can use the same trick for other electronic devices, as well.

It’s Not Possible to Write Data on My SD Card

An SD card not showing up on computer is a fairly common problem, but there’s one problem that’s even more prevalent: the inability to write data on an SD card. This problem happens even with brand-new SD cards that have never been used before. Why?

The name “SD” card actually stands for “Secure Digital.” What makes this type of a non-volatile memory card secure is the little lock switch on the left side. When you put it in the on position, it makes it impossible to write any data on the SD card. Usually, people activate the lock switch by accident without even knowing about it and then wonder why they can’t use their SD card.

My SD Card Is Slow

The SD Association, a non-profit organization that sets memory card standards intended to simplify the use and optimize the performance of consumer electronics that people use in every country, defines standard speed classes for SD cards indicating minimum performance:

  • Class 2 – Minimum writing speed of 2 MB/s. Used for SD video recording and casual photography.
  • Class 4 – Minimum writing speed of 4 MB/s. Used for HD video recording.
  • Class 6 – Minimum writing speed of 6 MB/s. Used for Full HD video recording.
  • Class 10 – Minimum writing speed of 10 MB/s. Used for high-bitrate Full HD video recording and professional photography.
  • Class 30 – Minimum writing speed of 30 MB/s. Used for 4K video recording at 60 or 120 frames per second.
  • Class 60 – Minimum writing speed of 60 MB/s. Used for 8K video recording.
  • Class 90 – Minimum writing speed of 90 MB/s. Used for 8K video recording at 60 or 120 frames per second.

It’s important to realize that merely owning a high-speed SD card isn’t enough to achieve the card’s minimum writing speed. You also need a device that supports, at least, the same minimum writing speed as the card. Also, real-world performance is affected by many factors, such as the frequency of soft errors that the card’s controller must re-try or file fragmentation.

Files That Were Stored on My SD Card Are Missing

There’s nothing worse than inserting your SD card into computer and discovering that some files are missing. When that happens, your only hope is a data recovery solution such as Disk Drill. With Disk Drill, you can recover data from SD cards even if you can’t access them using a file browser anymore.

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To recover data from your SD card using Disk Drill:

  1. Insert the card into your SD card reader and launch Disk Drill.
  2. Select your SD card.
  3. Click on the Recover button. The beauty of Disk Drill lies in its ability to automatically recognize deleted and lost data without any input from the user. Thanks to Disk Drill’s modern user interface, anyone can recover data with confidence.

Disk Drill supports over 200 file formats and all major storage devices, including Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. What’s more, Disk Drill comes with a host of useful tools that can help you monitor the health of your storage devices, find duplicate files, perform a comprehensive system cleanup, create secure backup copies, or create bootable USB drives for data recovery.

Best of all, Disk Drill can be downloaded for free, allowing you to test how it performs before you purchase the Pro version and take advantage of all the features Disk Drill has to offer without any limitations.

.updated: January 8, 2020 author: