Can memory card be repaired?

Memory cards have become an essential part of our digital lives. We use them to store photos, videos, documents and other important files on our cameras, phones, and other devices. But like any digital storage medium, memory cards can become corrupted or damaged over time.

The good news is that in many cases, it is possible to repair and recover data from a corrupted memory card. With the right tools and techniques, you can often get your memory card working again or recover lost files.

What causes memory cards to become corrupted?

There are several common causes of memory card corruption:

  • Improper ejection – If a memory card is removed from a device without properly ejecting it first, it can cause file system corruption.
  • Physical damage – Dropping or bending a memory card can physically damage it and make data inaccessible.
  • Malware infection – Viruses or malware on a device can infect and corrupt memory cards.
  • Format errors – An interrupted or improper format of a card can cause data loss.
  • Electrical issues – Power outages, static electricity, or electrical spikes can corrupt memory cards.

File system corruption is one of the most common issues that can make a memory card unreadable by consumer devices. However, the data itself usually remains intact on the card even if the file system is damaged.

Can you repair and recover data from a corrupted memory card?

In many cases, yes, it is possible to repair and recover data from a corrupted memory card. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Stop using the card immediately – As soon as you notice any corruption, stop writing new data to the card to avoid overwriting the existing damaged data.
  2. Try the card on another device – Insert the card into another camera, phone, computer, or card reader. Sometimes different devices can read cards with minor corruption issues.
  3. Run data recovery software – Use recovery software that can scan the card and extract data even if the file system is damaged. Popular tools include PhotoRec, Disk Drill, and Stellar Phoenix.
  4. Repair the file system – Try software that can repair file system issues like CHKDSK (Windows), First Aid (Mac), or fsck (Linux). This may make the files readable again.
  5. Send to a data recovery service – For severe physical or logical damage, professional lab data recovery services can disassemble memory cards and recover data using specialized tools, but this can be expensive.

Best practices to avoid memory card corruption

You can help prevent memory card corruption by following these best practices:

  • Safely eject the card – Always properly eject or unmount the card before removing it from a device.
  • Regularly back up your data – Back up photos and files to another storage device so they are protected if a card fails.
  • Handle cards carefully – Avoid exposing memory cards to liquids, dust, static electricity, heat, or other hazards.
  • Buy name brands – Stick with trusted, major memory card brands like SanDisk, Samsung, or Kingston.
  • Replace old cards – Memory cards do have a limited lifespan and should be replaced every couple of years.
  • Format cards in the device – Always format the card in the camera or device where it will be used, not on a computer.
  • Lock cards if possible – Use the physical write-protect locks on SD and microSD cards to prevent accidental erasure or formatting.

Can you repair a physically damaged memory card?

It depends on the type and extent of physical damage. Minor issues like bent pins or connectors can sometimes be repaired. But major physical damage like cracked chips or circuits is difficult or impossible to fix.

Some physical damage scenarios where data recovery is possible:

  • Bent pins or connectors – Carefully bending pins back or resoldering connectors may allow the card to work again.
  • Scratched contact surfaces – Lightly sanding or polishing scratches in the metal contacts can help make a better connection.
  • Broken plastic casing – If just the plastic shell is cracked but the silicon memory chip is intact, it can often be transplanted into a new shell.

Physically damaged memory cards should be handled by professional data recovery experts. They use specialized tools in cleanroom environments to safely disassemble and repair cards when possible.

Can you fix corrupted photos and video files?

If the file system of a memory card is corrupted, the photo and video files may appear corrupted even if the data is still intact on the device. In these cases, it’s often possible to recover and repair the damaged files:

  • Data recovery software can find image and video files even if the file system is corrupted and extract them to another device.
  • If the file headers are damaged, recovery software scans for file signatures to identify intact photo and video data based on the file patterns.
  • Recovered files may have generic filenames like IMG_298.jpg that can be renamed once they are extracted.
  • Image and video files may be broken into fragments, but specialized tools can piece the fragments back together.
  • Some recovery tools like Disk Drill have specialized algorithms to reconstruct corrupted image and video files by filling in missing data.

As long as the storage cells holding the image and video data are intact, there is a very good chance of recovering photos and videos even if the file system is severely corrupted.

Can you fix a formatted or deleted memory card?

Memory cards that have been accidentally formatted or that contain deleted files can also often be repaired and recovered. When a card is formatted or files are deleted, the file system table marking the existing files is reset, but the underlying data usually remains.

Software-based recovery techniques for formatted and deleted data include:

  • Scanning for intact file signatures based on expected patterns for photo, video, document, and other file formats.
  • Looking for data clusters and fragments that were linked together in the old file system before formatting.
  • Checking for files that still have an active directory entry but have been marked as deleted.
  • Searching raw, unallocated space on the drive for intact files that are no longer listed in the file table.

As long as new data hasn’t been written that overwrites the old data, formatted and deleted files can often be fully restored with the right recovery tools and techniques.

Should you try to repair and recover data yourself?

You can try to use data recovery software yourself if a memory card becomes corrupted or damaged, but this is risky compared to professional data recovery:

  • DIY recovery has a lower success rate, especially for severe corruption issues.
  • You may accidentally damage the card further if not handled properly.
  • Consumer tools are not as effective as the specialized tools pros use.
  • It takes advanced skills and training to properly disassemble and handle memory cards.
  • Professional recovery performed in a certified cleanroom has the highest chance of success.

In many cases, it’s worth sending a corrupted card to a professional recovery service instead of trying to repair it yourself, especially if the data is extremely important to you.

Pros and cons of professional data recovery

Here are some pros and cons to weigh when considering professional memory card data recovery:


  • Highest chance of successful file recovery – Professional tools and skills provide the best results.
  • Cleanroom environment protects delicate components during disassembly.
  • Experienced specialists avoid further damage to the storage device.
  • Faster turnaround time than DIY efforts.


  • Expensive – Professional recovery can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
  • No guaranteed results – The card may be too damaged to recover anything.
  • You lose possession of card during recovery process.
  • Advanced techniques like chip-off often permanently destroy repairability of device.

Mobile apps to recover data from a damaged memory card

Here are some top-rated mobile apps that can help recover lost or corrupted files from a damaged memory card:

App Name Platform Key Features
DiskDigger Photo Recovery Android, iOS Recovers photos, videos, documents, archives
Remo Recover Android, iOS Retrieves formatted and deleted media files
Stellar Photo Recovery Android, iOS Repairs corrupt photos and videos
EaseUS Photo Recovery Android, iOS Scans and restores multiple file formats

These apps allow you to scan and recover data directly from a memory card using your phone or tablet. They can recover photos, videos, documents, and other file types. Advanced features include corrupted file repair, deep scanning capabilities, and previewing files before recovery.

Data recovery services for memory cards

When DIY software solutions are not able to recover lost or damaged files on a memory card, professional data recovery labs provide advanced services to retrieve your data. Here are some top options:

Secure Data Recovery

  • All types of memory cards supported
  • Class 10 ISO 4 cleanroom
  • Free media evaluation
  • Emergency 24-hour service available


  • SD, microSD, CF cards supported
  • ISO 5 certified cleanroom lab
  • Free pickup and delivery
  • High 96% success rate

Recover My Flash Drive

  • SD, microSD, CF, USB recovery
  • Class 100 cleanroom facilities
  • Free shipping both ways
  • Best pricing guarantee

These professional recovery labs use state-of-the-art tools and techniques like specialized imaging equipment, chip readers, microsoldering, and forensic recovery methods. Prices range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the extent of damage and type of service required.

What kind of guarantee do data recovery services offer?

Most professional data recovery services do not offer an absolute guarantee they will be able to recover your files, since each case is unique. However, many services offer a conditional guarantee, such as:

  • No data, no charge – Only pay if files are successfully recovered.
  • Free evaluation – Initial diagnosis to gauge chance of recovery is free.
  • Tiered pricing – Pay based on amount and type of data recovered.
  • Upfront pricing – No hidden fees or surprise charges.

Avoid any service promising 100% data recovery guarantees. Legitimate firms will explain the evaluation process and potential outcomes. Be wary of firms asking for payment just to attempt recovery. Look for services with clear pricing, analysis reporting, and customer reviews.

Is it worth paying for data recovery on a memory card?

Whether professional data recovery is worth the cost depends on a few key factors:

  • Value of the lost data – Precious or irreplaceable files merit spending more.
  • Cost of recovery – Weigh the charges against the odds and extent of recovery.
  • Cause of damage – Logical failures have higher recovery odds than physical.
  • Your technical skill – DIY for minor issues, but physical damage needs pros.
  • Data recovery insurance – Some policies cover the cost if worth a claim.

On high-capacity memory cards, even recovering a portion of files may justify professional services. But for low-capacity cards with mostly replaceable data, DIY software is likely sufficient.

How can I avoid needing data recovery services?

You can minimize the need for professional data recovery on your memory cards by:

  • Always safely ejecting cards from devices before removing.
  • Avoiding storing only one copy of important data on a card.
  • Making regular backups to both local and cloud storage.
  • Using high-endurance, enterprise-grade memory cards.
  • Keeping cards stored safely in cases when not in use.
  • Being cautious of physical damage like drops, water, dust, etc.
  • Retiring cards after heavy use per the manufacturer guidelines.

Your best defense against catastrophic memory card failure is prevention. But even if a card does become corrupted or damaged, professional recovery services can often salvage some or even all of your data.


While memory card damage is an unfortunate reality, there are many techniques available to repair corrupted cards and recover lost files – from DIY software tools all the way up to professional recovery services. The right solution for you depends on the specifics of your situation and technical abilities. With some effort, there is a good chance of rescuing at least some of your photos, videos, documents and other data from a damaged memory card in many cases.