How To Recover Files And Data From A Dead SD Card

SD cards are temperamental and hence you must be prepared and learn some ways to recover any data or files which you don’t want to lose to a dead SD card. You can re-install lost apps and if they are sourced legally, some of the files can be replaced free of charge. But in any case the principles are the same for just about all files. Here are some of the tips which you can try.


Do not format the disk if you don’t want to lose any of the photos on it. Also if you have lots of important data which you need must get back, avoid using a third-party data-recovery company; at least not before trying out the following steps.

Check whether it’s the card’s fault or the reader’s. Try using a different card reader if your laptop or PC’s built-in-slot isn’t responding to your card. Regular size SD cards are delicate due to their thin plastic built and may break if you carry them in your pocket or in your bag, unprotected.

Sometimes the tiny write-protection switch may fall out, making your SD card stop operating in a camera or any other device which is required to be able to write to it. Regardless of the reason following an SD card being write-protected, you would not be able to delete files in this state since the file allotment table needs to be altered and this includes writing to the card.

If your card is not physically damaged and the switch is in the ‘write’ position, you can check out one of Windows’ built-in tools to attempt to fix it.

Your options will differ based on whether your card gets detected in Windows Explorer or not. If it shows, simply right click on it, choose Properties and then the Tools tab. Press Check and Windows will scan the card for errors and attempt to mend them.

If the SD card doesn’t show in Explorer, look for the Start menu for Disk Management. In this tool you can check the drive from which Windows can ‘see’ and the list can include drives which do not have a drive letter. If you cannot spot your SD card in the list of drives, it’s either entirely dead or may be the card reader isn’t working properly which could be due to a trouble with drivers.

On the other hand if the SD card is detected but with no drive letter, you should be able to click on it and use the obtainable options to give it a drive letter or format it to a file system that Windows can interpret and can then allot a letter.

After you try out the above steps and if none of it works, and you are sure that the SD card has crashed, you can check for many free programs which claim to recover data from dead or corrupt SD cards. You can use Disk Digger or EaseUS Free Data Recovery or ZAR (Zero Assumption Recovery) or iCare Data Recovery. Some of these free recovery programs are limited to the number of files or amount of data they will recover, so look for any limitations before downloading. Also be careful of additional redundant programs which might get installed together with the free software: avoid using ‘Recommended’ installation option. Always select ‘Manual’ and cautiously read each screen, ticking out of search bars and other software.

Picture courtesy –

by techtalks @TechTalks January 18, 2016 9:54 AM UTC


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