Can a damaged SD card be recovered?

Damaging an SD card can lead to lost photos, videos, and other data. Fortunately, damaged SD cards can often be recovered using special software or services. The chances of recovery depend on the type and extent of damage.

What causes SD cards to become damaged?

There are several common causes of SD card damage:

  • Physical damage – Dropping the card, bending it, or exposing it to water can physically damage the card and make it unreadable.
  • Corruption – Power outages, improperly removing the card, viruses, and other issues can corrupt data on the card.
  • Deleted files – Accidentally deleted files are recoverable if they haven’t been overwritten by new data.
  • Formatted card – Formatting the card erases all data, but recovery is still possible if nothing new has been saved.

Can data be recovered from a damaged SD card?

In many cases, yes. Even if an SD card is physically damaged or has corrupted data, specialized data recovery software can often extract the photos, videos, and other files on the card.

Data recovery is possible in these cases:

  • The card’s controller and memory chips are intact – If they suffered physical damage, recovery is very difficult or impossible.
  • The card hasn’t been overwritten by new data – Any newly written data may overwrite deleted files.
  • A backup isn’t available – If you have backups, you can restore data rather than going through recovery.

What factors affect the chances of recovery?

These key factors determine the likelihood of successfully recovering data from a damaged SD card:

Type of damage

The type of damage impacts recoverability. Physical damage is the hardest to recover from. Logical damage like corruption or accidental deletion has a higher success rate. Formatting is generally recoverable if no new data was written.

Overwriting of data

If deleted files on the SD card have been overwritten by newly saved data, they are likely unrecoverable. Avoid using the card further to prevent overwriting.

Time elapsed

The longer since the deletion or damage, the higher the chance of overwriting. Acting quickly improves recoverability.

Recovery method used

Professional data recovery services using specialized tools in a controlled environment have the highest success rates. DIY software recovery has lower and more variable chances.

What are the best practices when your SD card is damaged?

Follow these steps to maximize the chances of recovering your data when an SD card is damaged:

  1. Stop using the damaged card immediately to avoid overwriting data.
  2. Do not attempt to repair physical damage yourself.
  3. Avoid exposing the card to excessive heat or moisture.
  4. Use read-only data recovery software if attempting a DIY recovery.
  5. Contact a professional recovery service for physical damage or critical files.
  6. Have a backup plan for your important SD card data.

What are some SD card recovery do’s and don’ts?

Do Don’t
– Stop using the damaged card – Continue using the card after damage
– Handle with care to avoid more damage – Try to repair physical damage yourself
– Use read-only recovery software – Use untrusted recovery software
– Contact a pro for critical or tough cases – Give up too easily on recovery

What SD card recovery tools and software can be used?

Some recommended DIY SD card recovery software options include:


– Free and paid data recovery tool for Windows

– Recovers photos, videos, documents, and more

– Has deep scan option for difficult recoveries

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

– Cross-platform with Windows and Mac versions

– Recovers from deletion, formatting, corruption, etc.

– Allows previewing files before recovery

Stellar Data Recovery

– Works on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android

– Features cloning for unreadable drives

– Supports SD, microSD, CF cards, and more

When should you use a professional SD card recovery service?

In these cases, a professional SD card recovery service may be warranted:

  • Physical damage to the card – Drops, bends, water damage, etc.
  • Failed self-recovery attempts
  • Lack of proper tools and environment
  • Very valuable or irreplaceable data
  • Need fast, reliable recovery results

Professional services have access to specialized tools like clean rooms and forensic recovery methods. This gives them the best chance of recovering data from SD cards with physical damage or stubborn logical damage.

How much does SD card data recovery cost?

The cost of SD card recovery depends on several factors:

Type of service

DIY software recovery ranges from free to under $100. Professional services range from $300 to over $1000.

Amount of data

More data takes longer to recover, increasing cost. A few GBs is cheaper than the max 256GB+ capacity.

Level of damage

Physical damage is more expensive to recover than logical damage. Complete overwrites or destruction increase difficulty.


Expedited services within 24 hours can double the cost over standard recoveries of 3-5 days.

Can you recover data from a water damaged SD card?

Water damage makes recovering data from an SD card more difficult, but still possible in some cases. The steps include:

  1. Dry out the card for at least 24 hours before attempting power on.
  2. Check that no power is running through the circuitry before drying.
  3. Use 99% isopropyl alcohol and a soft brush to clean corrosion after drying.
  4. Attempt recovery through an SD card reader, if possible.
  5. Try professional recovery if DIY methods fail.

If the card was exposed to salt water, distilled water, or continued operation while wet, the likelihood of successful data recovery drops significantly.

Can you recover data from a physically damaged SD card?

Physical damage like bends, cracks, and scratches can destroy an SD card’s controller board or storage chips, causing data loss. However, recovery is sometimes possible if damage is limited.

Potential recovery methods for physical damage include:

  • Repairing the card with specialist tools
  • Using forensic techniques like chip-off, lab imaging, etc.
  • Replacing damaged components from donor cards

Severely damaged cards have lower recovery chances. It’s critical to avoid further harm and send such cards to a professional service immediately.

Is overwritten data on an SD card recoverable?

If files on an SD card have been overwritten by new data, they are generally unrecoverable. Each save writes over deleted file sectors.


  • Fragments of overwritten files may be recoverable from card edges.
  • Overwritten data could exist in system backups.
  • There’s a slim chance data persists magnetically.

But most overwritten data cannot be recovered via standard methods. Avoiding usage and having backups are key to recoverability.

Can reformatted SD cards be recovered?

Reformatting an SD card erases all data by reconfiguring the file system. However, the deleted data usually remains until overwritten.

To recover a reformatted SD card:

  1. Use recovery software before you rewrite any files.
  2. Scan for recoverable partitions and raw file signatures.
  3. Repair the partitions through data recovery tools.
  4. Extract files from the rebuilt card image.

As long as the reformat was the only damage and you avoid reusing the card, recovery is typically successful.

Can you recover corrupted files from an SD card?

Media files and documents can become corrupted on SD cards from issues like:

  • Power failure during writes
  • Improperly ejecting the card
  • Buggy apps or processes
  • Virus or malware infection
  • Exceeding the card’s lifespan

Data recovery software scans the card’s raw data to reconstruct corrupted files. The better the corruption, the higher the chances of recovery.

Tips for recovering corrupted SD card files:

  • Use read-only scanning tools to prevent overwriting.
  • Check backups for intact copies of files.
  • Repair software can fix some image, video, and document errors.


Damaged SD cards often retain their valuable photos, videos, and other data. In many cases, recovery is possible through software tools or professional services. The type of damage impacts recoverability – logical issues like corruption have high success rates, while physical damage makes recovery difficult. Taking prompt, careful action maximizes the chances.