Can you fix a corrupted SD card on Android?

Having a corrupted SD card can be very frustrating. The SD card may have important photos, videos, music, or other files that are now inaccessible. Fortunately, there are some steps you can try to fix a corrupted SD card on an Android device.

What causes an SD card to become corrupted on Android?

There are several potential causes of SD card corruption on Android:

  • Improperly ejecting or removing the SD card from the device
  • Power loss or sudden reset while writing data to the card
  • Physical damage to the card
  • File system errors or fragmentation
  • Using low quality or counterfeit SD cards
  • Virus or malware infection

The most common reasons tend to be either improperly removing the card or power interruptions while data is being written. This can leave the file system in an unstable state.

Can you fix SD card corruption yourself?

In many cases, it is possible to repair a corrupted SD card yourself using built-in tools on your Android device or specialized recovery software on a computer:

  • On Android 6.0 and above, adoptable storage allows the SD card to be formatted and encrypted just like internal storage. This process will wipe the SD card but can potentially fix errors.
  • Disk checking utilities like fsck or chkdsk can scan the SD card and repair file system issues.
  • Android’s Mount and Storage Utility app has an option to format the SD card which may clear up corruption.
  • Inserting the SD card into a computer and using data recovery software can sometimes recover deleted files and fix logical errors on the card.

However, there are some cases where the SD card is too far gone and a DIY solution won’t be successful:

  • If the card has physical damage, bent pins, broken parts, etc. it is unlikely to be fixed.
  • An SD card that has been through a washing machine, extreme heat, or other trauma will probably need professional data recovery.
  • Reformatting or partitioning often cannot help an SD card that has degraded performance or bad sectors.

Steps to try fixing a corrupted SD card on Android

Here are some steps to attempt fixing an SD card corrupted on Android:

  1. Safely eject the SD card – Use your phone’s Settings to eject the SD card before removing it. If it is not mounting at all, power down the phone and remove the card.

  2. Inspect for physical damage – Look at the card and the locking mechanism on the card itself. If you see any damage, the card is likely unrecoverable.

  3. Try the card in another device – Insert the SD card into a computer, camera, or other device to see if it mounts properly. This can confirm if the issue is with the card or phone.

  4. Mount via USB and check – With the phone powered on and SD card inserted, connect the phone to a computer via USB. Some computers will show connected storage devices that failed to mount on Android. This allows you to view files, backup data, and run error checking.

  5. Use chkdsk or fsck – On Windows use chkdsk, on Mac or Linux use fsck, to scan and repair file system errors. This requires mounting the card to a computer first.

  6. Format the card – As a last resort, use the Android Mount and Storage utility to format the SD card. This will delete all data but may fix an unstable or corrupted file system.

Formatting the card should be done before using data recovery software, as that works best on a blank SD card. Formatting on Android includes an option to format as internal storage or portable storage.

Best data recovery software

If you need to recover lost photos, videos, documents or other files from a corrupted SD card, dedicated data recovery software provides the best chance of getting those files back. Look for a software that can recover from formatted, deleted, or lost partitions. Here are some top options:

Software Platform Key Features
Disk Drill Windows & Mac Recovers 500+ formats, has free & paid versions, easy to use.
R-Studio Windows & Mac Powerful advanced scan modes, recovers damaged partitions.
EaseUS Windows Wizard interface and onboard SD card reader for direct recovery.
Stellar Windows & Mac Deep scanning for formatted, deleted, or lost partitions.

These are paid software, but usually have free trial versions so you can test if your files can be recovered before purchasing. Follow the steps to scan the SD card and recover data.

Send the SD card for professional data recovery

If DIY attempts to fix the card and recover data have failed, then your best option is to have it repaired by a professional recovery lab. They have specialized tools and clean room facilities to physically repair cards and recover data from seriously damaged media. The cost is usually a few hundred dollars.

Professional SD card and data recovery services include:

  • Ontrack
  • DriveSavers
  • Gillware
  • Secure Data Recovery
  • DataRetrieval

To use a recovery service, package up your SD card securely and ship it to them. Provide details on how the card was damaged and what data you hope to recover. The lab will assess if recovery is possible, give you a quote for the cost, and an estimate of the recovery time.

Can you recover data after formatting the SD card?

Yes, it is possible to recover lost files after formatting an SD card, but your chances depend on what steps you take after the format:

  • Stop using the card immediately – More writes to the card risk overwriting deleted data.
  • Don’t format a second time – Multiple formats make recovery much less likely.
  • Use data recovery software – This is better than manual scanning as it can read the raw SD card sectors.
  • Send for professional recovery – If software cannot find your lost files, a lab may be able to extract them from the SD card hardware.

The less you use the SD card after formatting, the higher the chances of getting your photos, videos, and other personal data back. Avoid writing new data if possible.

Tips to avoid SD card corruption

You can reduce the chances of a corrupted SD card by following these tips:

  • Safely eject before removing – Always use your phone’s settings to unmount the SD card.
  • Avoid low quality cards – Buy name brand cards from reputable sources.
  • Protect cards physically – Don’t bend, drop, or expose cards to liquids or debris.
  • Ensure proper insertion – Cards should click gently into the locked position.
  • Back up your data – Keep an extra copy of photos, videos, documents on your computer or cloud storage.
  • Check card health – Watch for warning signs of slow performance or increasing errors.

While corruption cannot be prevented completely, these steps can minimize the chances of problems arising with your SD card.


An SD card corrupted on Android can often be fixed using built-in formatting tools, data recovery software, or professional recovery services. The key is to stop using the card right away and avoid any further writes to it. This gives you the best shot at recovering lost files off of the SD card.

Backing up important data from your phone’s SD card periodically can prevent heartache if the card does become corrupted. But even in worst case scenarios, there are often still options to rescue your photos, videos, music, and other documents.