How do I fix my SanDisk SD card not detected?

Having an SD card not detected can be frustrating. SanDisk is a popular brand of SD cards, so it’s common to run into issues with them not being read by your computer or device. The good news is there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to try and get your SanDisk SD card working again.

Quick Fixes to Try First

Before diving deep into troubleshooting, here are some quick and easy things to try to get your SanDisk SD card detected:

  • Reinsert the SD card – Remove and reinsert the card to get a proper connection.
  • Try a different SD card reader – Use another USB card reader or built-in media card reader if available.
  • Try the card in another device – See if the card works in another computer, phone, camera, etc.
  • Restart your computer – Shut down and restart your PC to clear any software issues.
  • Clean the contacts – Use a soft pencil eraser to gently rub debris off the gold contacts.

If none of those basic steps work, don’t worry – there are still more advanced troubleshooting methods to get your card detected. Keep reading!

Check for Physical Damage on the SD Card

It’s possible there is some physical damage on the SanDisk SD card itself that is preventing it from being properly read. Carefully inspect the SD card for any signs of damage:

  • Missing or uneven contacts – The gold contact pins should be present and even. If any are damaged or scratched significantly, the card may not connect properly.
  • Cracks or broken pieces – Cracks, chips, bends, or broken parts can prevent proper function. Discard and replace if damage is severe.
  • Debris in card slot – Look for dirt, dust, or other particles stuck in the housing which could interfere with the contacts. Try cleaning with compressed air.
  • Corrosion – Look for any signs of rust or corrosion around the metal components. Corroded areas can prevent connections.

If the physical damage is minimal, you may be able to clean the card carefully and get it working again. But if damage is too extensive, the card may need to be replaced.

Try the SD Card with Another Device

One of the quickest ways to figure out if the problem is with the SanDisk SD card or your computer is to try the card in another device like a phone, camera, or tablet. Here’s how to test the card in another device:

  1. Insert the SD card into another computer if available. See if that computer detects the card.
  2. Try the card in a compatible mobile phone or tablet. The card should mount properly if in working order.
  3. Test the card in a digital camera or video camera. Take some test shots to see if the card saves photos/videos.
  4. If the card works in another device, the issue lies with your PC. If it still doesn’t work, there is likely an issue with the card itself.

This quick device test lets you confirm whether or not the SD card is functional on its own. If it works elsewhere, move on to troubleshooting your computer next.

Inspect Your SD Card Reader

If the SD card works in other devices, the problem may be with your card reader. Here are some things to check in your card reader:

  • Try different USB ports – Switch USB ports and listen/feel for the reader to reinitialize. Also check Device Manager.
  • Reinstall drivers – Uninstall and reinstall the driver software for the card reader in Device Manager.
  • Update USB drivers – Go to Device Manager, find Universal Serial Bus controllers, and update drivers.
  • Check for loose connections – Make sure the card reader is properly connected internally (for built-in types).

On desktop computers, you can open up the case and check that all cables are snugly plugged into the motherboard if it’s a built-in card reader. On laptops, there is little you can do for built-in readers unfortunately.

Run Disk Management Utility

Running the Disk Management utility in Windows can help identify issues with your SD card. To use Disk Management to troubleshoot:

  1. Type diskmgmt.msc into the Windows search bar and open the Disk Management desktop app.
  2. The left panel lists all connected drives. See if your SD card is shown here.
  3. If it’s shown but not assigned a drive letter, right-click and add a drive letter.
  4. Check if it says the full storage capacity. If not, the card may be corrupted.
  5. Look for any warning icons or errors shown. Research these for potential solutions.

Using Disk Management, you can also try formatting the SD card to troubleshoot read/write issues. Just right-click the card and select Format.

Check for Corrupted Files on the SD Card

If your SanDisk SD card shows up in some devices but not your computer, the file system on the card may have become corrupted. Here’s how to check for corruption:

  • Insert the card into a computer where it does mount properly.
  • Navigate to the card in Windows Explorer and try opening random files.
  • If many files give errors or can’t open, the file system is likely corrupt.
  • Try using Windows Scanner and Repair tool to detect and fix errors.
  • As a last resort, reformat the SD card to completely fix corruption.

SD cards can become corrupted from improper ejection, power failures, or file transfer errors. Reformatting will wipe the data but can fix the underlying file system issues.

Clean the SD Card’s Contacts

Dirty electrical contacts on your SanDisk SD card can prevent proper connection. To clean them:

  1. Use a soft pencil eraser and gently rub the gold pins on the SD card.
  2. Wipe away any grime or dirt that comes off onto the eraser.
  3. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and lightly dampen the pins.
  4. Use short strokes and let air dry so moisture doesn’t build up.
  5. As a last resort, use an electrical contact cleaner spray on the pins.

Be very gentle when cleaning the contacts to avoid damaging them. The pins are delicate and bend easily. Cleaning can help improve the connection in some cases when dirtiness is the cause.

Check for Issues in Windows Device Manager

The Windows Device Manager is where you can view and control all connected devices. Follow these steps to use it for SD card troubleshooting:

  1. Open Device Manager (type devmgmt.msc into Windows search bar).
  2. Expand the Disk drives category.
  3. See if your SD card appears here. If not, the computer is not detecting it.
  4. If the card shows, double-click and check for any error codes.
  5. Right-click the SD drive > Properties > Driver tab > Update Driver or Rollback.

Device Manager gives you deeper insight into any potential driver or hardware issues that may be affecting your SD card connectivity. Updating or rolling back drivers here may resolve the not detected problem.

Troubleshoot SD Card Reader Driver Issues

With built-in card readers, it’s important to ensure your SD card reader driver is up to date. To update or reinstall the driver:

  1. Open Device Manager and expand the Disk drives category.
  2. Right-click the connected card reader and select Properties.
  3. Go to the Driver tab and click Update Driver or Uninstall.
  4. Search automatically online or browse your computer for the updated driver.
  5. Restart your computer after reinstalling the driver.

An outdated, buggy, or corrupt driver could lead to your SanDisk SD card not being detected properly. Updating or reinstalling this driver may resolve the issue.

Change or Assign a New Drive Letter

If your SD card shows up in Disk Management but doesn’t have a drive letter assigned, that can prevent access. Here’s how to change or add a drive letter:

  1. Go to Disk Management and locate the SanDisk SD card.
  2. Right-click the volume and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  3. Click Add to assign a new letter if none set. Choose Change to set a different letter.
  4. Ensure the new drive letter does not conflict with an existing drive.
  5. The SD card will now appear in Windows Explorer with the new letter.

Having no drive letter or an already used drive letter can block access to the card. Assigning a new unique letter will ensure your computer can detect and read it.

Reinstall or Update SD Card Reader Software

If you are using a dedicated external USB card reader, reinstalling or updating the device software may help get your SD card detected again. Here are some tips when reinstalling reader software:

  • Completely uninstall and delete existing reader software.
  • Reboot your computer after uninstalling.
  • Re-download the latest software from the manufacturer’s website.
  • During installation, check for any optional software offers to install.
  • Connect the USB card reader only after the software finishes installing.

A clean install of the card reader manufacturer’s software can clear out any conflicts or glitches. Just be sure to fully delete the existing software first before reinstalling.

Format Your SanDisk SD Card

As a last resort if nothing else has worked, you can try formatting your SanDisk SD card. This will wipe all data but can fix problems with corruption, partitions, file systems, or unreadable sectors. To format:

  1. Use Disk Management to right-click your SD card and select Format.
  2. Choose Quick Format or leave unchecked for a full format (will take longer).
  3. Give the volume a descriptive name if desired.
  4. Leave allocation unit size as default.
  5. Start the format – your data will be erased so be sure to backup first.

In some cases, formatting is the simplest way to completely reset your SD card and address any underlying problems. Just be prepared to lose any stored data in the process.

SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe Data Recovery

If important files and data on your SanDisk SD card have become corrupted or lost, SanDisk offers a data recovery application called RescuePRO Deluxe that can help you try to restore them. Here are some tips on using it:

  • Download RescuePRO Deluxe from the SanDisk website.
  • Install the software on a PC with the SD card reader.
  • Scan your SD card for recoverable files after connecting it.
  • Pre-scan first before trying to rescue data.
  • Deep scan if the quick scan finds limited results.
  • Select desired files to recover and save to another drive.

RescuePRO Deluxe works with SanDisk-branded cards including SD cards. It can recover photos, videos, documents, and more. Just don’t save the recovered data back to the same SD card.

Contact SanDisk Customer Support

If you’ve tried all other troubleshooting steps for your SanDisk SD card with no luck, it may be time to contact SanDisk customer support. Here are some tips for contacting support:

  • Visit the SanDisk Support page and select Contact Support.
  • Chat online or call their toll-free number for quick help.
  • Email their customer support team for more detailed issues.
  • Explain the troubleshooting steps you’ve tried when contacting them.
  • Ask about warranty replacements or discounts if your card is still under warranty.
  • Request an RMA to return a defective SD card for replacement.

SanDisk technical experts may be able to diagnose issues with your specific SD card and recommend any other potential solutions. They can also facilitate warranty replacements when applicable.


Getting a SanDisk SD card not detected can certainly be annoying. But in many cases, this issue can be resolved through troubleshooting steps like trying different devices, inspecting physical damage, cleaning contacts, updating drivers, or formatting. For valuable data recovery, RescuePRO Deluxe may help salvage your files. And if all else fails, SanDisk customer support can provide additional troubleshooting assistance or warranty service. With the right approach and patience, you can likely get your SanDisk SD card back up and running again.