How do I fix my SanDisk Micro SD card error?

SanDisk Micro SD cards are very common for expanding storage on Android phones and other devices. Unfortunately, sometimes these cards can start showing errors that prevent them from being read or written to properly. Some common errors include the card not being detected at all, data corruption, or the dreaded “Unsupported SD Card” message.

It’s important to try and fix these errors so you can regain access to the data and photos stored on the card. An unreadable Micro SD card also becomes useless for adding storage to your phone or other devices if it can’t be accessed properly. The good news is there are several troubleshooting steps you can try yourself to get a problematic SanDisk card working again before resorting to professional data recovery services.

This guide will cover various DIY solutions to attempt at home first. We’ll go over steps like reinserting the card, trying it in other devices, running disk checks, formatting the card, and using data recovery software. With some luck and patience, you may be able to fix pesky Micro SD issues and recover important files without too much hassle.

Determine the Exact Error

There are several common SD card errors you may encounter. Being able to identify the specific error message is the first step in troubleshooting the issue.

Some common errors include:

  • “SD card not recognized” – This means your device cannot detect the SD card at all.
  • “SD card blank or has unsupported filesystem” – The card appears empty or cannot be read by your device.
  • “SD card read-only” – You can view files on the card but cannot modify, add or delete files.
  • “SD card unexpectedly removed” – This error occurs if the card is removed without properly ejecting it first.
  • “SD card corrupted” – This means some data has been lost or damaged on the card.

On Windows, you may see more specific errors like “Drive is not accessible” or “Device I/O error”. On Android, “SD card damaged” or “SD card errors” may appear.

Take note of the exact error message you are getting. This will help determine what kind of issue you are dealing with and guide troubleshooting steps.

Try Removing and Reinserting the Card

One of the basic first steps when troubleshooting SD card issues is to remove and reinsert the card. This resets the connection and can fix minor software glitches or connectivity problems.

To properly remove the card, never forcefully pull it out while the device is on. First, unmount or eject the card properly through your operating system. On Windows, right-click the card in File Explorer and select “Eject.” On Mac, drag the card icon to the Trash. On Android, go to Settings > Storage and tap the “Unmount” button next to the card.

Once the card is unmounted, you can gently remove it from the device or card reader. Blow away any dust, and check for damage to the contacts. Then reinsert the card securely until it clicks into place. Your device should detect the card again and you can try to access the files.

If you continue having issues after removing and reinserting the card, move on to other troubleshooting steps.

Inspect the Card and Connectors

One of the most common causes of SD card errors is dirty contacts or damaged connectors. Carefully inspect the card itself for any signs of physical damage like cracks or bent pins. Also check the card reader connectors to make sure they are not dirty, corroded, or damaged.

Use a bright light and magnifying glass if needed to get a close look at the connectors. Pay special attention to the contact pins, which can sometimes get bent. If the pins are damaged, the card may not make proper electrical contact when inserted.

Try cleaning the connectors using a cotton swab or soft toothbrush dampened with rubbing alcohol. Allow time to fully air dry. This can help remove built-up dirt or oxidation on the pins. Just be very gentle when cleaning to avoid causing further damage.

Proper inspection and cleaning of the physical card and connectors is an easy first step that can resolve many SD card errors before trying more advanced troubleshooting.

Try the Card in Another Device

One way to determine if the error is with the SD card itself or with the device it is being used in is to try the card in another compatible device. To test the card in another device:

  1. Safely eject the SD card from the original device per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Insert the SD card into another device like a computer, phone, camera, etc. that is compatible with that type and size of SD card.
  3. See if the error occurs when trying to access or use the card in the new device.
  4. If the card works fine in the other device, the issue is likely with the original device’s card reader or software. If the error occurs again in the new device, then the SD card itself is likely faulty.

Testing the SD card in another device, preferably of a different make/model, can help isolate if the issue stems from a problem with the card or the device. Switching devices is an important troubleshooting step before reformulating or replacing the card, and can save time, money, and frustration.

Check for Problems with the Card Reader

Issues with the card reader itself can sometimes cause the error. Before replacing the memory card, try troubleshooting the card reader.

First, try using a different card reader if you have one available. Connect the memory card to another USB card reader or built-in card slot on a computer, camera, or other device. If the card functions normally, then the original card reader is likely faulty.

If the issue persists across devices, the problem lies with the memory card. But if the card works fine in a different reader, then there is an issue with the original card reader.

You can also try updating the drivers for the card reader. Outdated drivers can sometimes cause problems with recognizing memory cards. Go to Device Manager, find the card reader device, and check for any available driver updates from the manufacturer. Install the latest driver and then test the memory card again.


Run Disk Checking Utilities

One way to troubleshoot SD card errors is by running disk checking utilities to scan for errors. Both Windows and Mac operating systems come with built-in disk utilities that can be used:

  • On Windows, open File Explorer, right-click on the SD card drive, and select “Properties”. Go to the “Tools” tab and click “Check” under Error-checking. This will scan the disk for errors.
  • On Mac, open Disk Utility, select the SD card drive on the left, click “First Aid” at the top, and then click “Run”. This will check and repair disk errors.

There are also several good third party disk checking utilities:

  • HD Tune Pro diagnoses hard drive issues and benchmarks drive performance (source).
  • EaseUS Partition Master can scan for bad sectors and file system errors on SD cards (source).
  • H2testw scans cards to find and isolate bad sectors (source).

Running disk utilities can help identify and even repair some SD card errors.

Format or Initialize the Card

Formatting or initializing the SD card can help fix filesystem errors that prevent your device from reading the card properly. This process erases existing data and creates a new blank filesystem on the card. According to Apple Support, if your Mac can’t read an SD card, it may propose formatting or initializing it so it can be used again (source).

However, formatting or initializing will erase all existing data on the card. So before doing this, be sure to backup any important files you want to keep. You may be able to use data recovery software to retrieve erased files after formatting, but this is not guaranteed.

To format or initialize the SD card on Windows, you can right-click the drive in File Explorer and select “Format”. On Mac, open Disk Utility and select the card, then click “Erase”. Refer to your device’s documentation for instructions on formatting the card using device settings or camera menus.

Formatting or initializing the card removes any corrupted data and creates a fresh filesystem, which can resolve errors caused by filesystem damage. But do this cautiously and only when necessary, as all data will be erased.

Try Advanced Recovery Software

If the basic troubleshooting steps don’t resolve the error, your best bet is to use advanced data recovery software that can rescue data and potentially fix errors on the SD card. These programs go deeper to salvage lost files and repair problems. The top options recommended are:

  • Disk Drill (Windows & Mac) – Has a free basic data recovery mode and advanced options to fix partitions, recover lost files, reconstruct data, clone disks, backup systems, and monitor disks for errors.
  • R-Studio (Windows, Mac & Linux) – A versatile recovery software capable of unformatting, file recovery, disk imaging, and a hex editor for advanced users.
  • PhotoRec (Windows, Mac & Linux) – Specifically designed to recover lost media files like photos, videos, documents, and archives.

These advanced tools scan deeper than the operating system’s utilities and often find files that are unreadable or corrupted. Run a thorough scan overnight for the best results. Many options are available, so read reviews and choose recovery software that fits your specific needs.

When to Replace Your Card

Micro SD cards have a limited lifespan and will eventually fail and need replacing. Signs that your card may be dead and need replacing include:

  • The card is no longer recognized by your device
  • You receive read/write errors or data corruption
  • The card has become very slow
  • You are unable to format the card

According to SanDisk, their branded cards typically last 1-2 years with normal use before needing replacement [1]. However, heavy usage like continuous video recording or constant rewriting of data will wear them down faster.

When buying a new micro SD card, look for one with high endurance that is optimized for your use case. The SanDisk High Endurance line is a good option for dash cams and security cameras, with an estimated lifetime of up to 40,000 hours of recording [1]. For other uses, a high capacity card from a reputable brand like SanDisk Extreme can provide good performance and reliability.