How do I get my contacts back from my SD card?

Quick Overview

If you had contacts saved on your Android phone’s internal storage and backed them up to an SD card, there are a few ways to restore them if you’ve lost or replaced your phone. The easiest options are:

  • Put the SD card in a new Android phone and import contacts
  • Connect the SD card to a computer and import the contacts to your email or other app
  • Use a contacts backup app to extract contacts from the SD card backup

With some effort, you can get your contacts back from the SD card backup as long as the contacts were exported properly in the first place.

What Gets Backed Up to the SD Card

When you back up your contacts to the SD card, you are exporting a special .vcf file that contains all your contact data. VCF stands for vCard format – this is a standard file type that stores names, phone numbers, emails, addresses, and other contact info in a structured way that various apps and devices can import.

So on your SD card, you will see a .vcf file like “contacts.vcf” or “my_contacts.vcf” – this single file contains all your contacts. As long as you can get this file off the SD card and onto your new device, you can restore your contacts.

Methods to Get Contacts Back from SD Card

Here are the main ways to get your backed up contacts off the SD card and onto a new phone or other destination:

1. Import from SD Card to New Android Phone

If you have a new Android phone, the easiest way is to simply insert the “old” SD card with the contacts backup into your new phone.

When you insert an SD card with a contacts backup, your new Android phone should prompt you to import contacts. This may happen right away, or you may need to go into Settings -> Import/Export Contacts.

Your new phone will load all the contacts from the .vcf file on the SD card. After the import, you can remove the SD card and use your phone normally – all those old contacts will now be saved in your new phone.

2. Connect SD Card to Computer

If you don’t have a new Android phone handy, you can also extract the contacts from your SD card by connecting it to your computer.

You’ll need a card reader to plug the SD card into your computer if your computer doesn’t have an SD slot.

Once connected, open the SD card and look for the .vcf file – likely named something like contacts.vcf or my_contacts.vcf.

Copy this file from the SD card onto your computer.

Now you have the contacts backed up on your computer. You can:

  • Open the .vcf file in Excel or other program to view the contacts.
  • Import the .vcf file into your email program like Outlook or Gmail to add the contacts.
  • Import the contacts into another backup app like iCloud or Google Contacts.

So using your computer gives you multiple options to access and restore those contacts.

3. Use a Contacts Backup App

There are various third-party apps designed to extract contacts from backups, including SD card backups from Android. Here are some options:

  • Syncios – Free tool for Windows and Mac that extracts contacts from Android backups.
  • iCareFone – Manages and transfers contacts between iOS and Android. Paid tool with free trial.
  • dr.fone – Popular paid software with option to restore contacts from SD card backups.

The process involves installing the software, connecting your SD card to your computer, and then using the app’s interface to load and extract the contacts. This puts the contacts onto your computer, from which you can export or sync them to another destination.

These types of apps provide an easy graphical interface to get the contacts out of an SD card backup compared to dealing with the raw .vcf file yourself.

Challenges and Solutions

In most cases, you should be able to retrieve your backed up contacts from an SD card using one of the methods above. But there are some challenges that can come up:

SD Card Corrupted

If the SD card itself is corrupted or damaged, you may not be able to access the files on it, including your contacts backup. Try connecting the SD card to your computer – you may be able to view some files even if your phone can’t read it. If the card is totally unusable, Data Recovery services could possibly recover the data.

Contacts Didn’t Export Properly

The contacts will only be restored if they were properly exported to the SD card in the first place. Make sure your original phone actually wrote the .vcf file to the card. If you see a 0 kb file size or can’t open the file, it likely failed to export.

Can’t Find Contacts File on SD Card

Some Android phones may store the exported contacts in a non-standard location on the card. Browse the entire contents of the SD card carefully to search for a .vcf file or folder like “ContactsBackup.” You may find it saved in an unexpected place.

Some Contacts Missing from Restore

If some but not all of your contacts get imported from the SD card, it likely means that original export failed to grab all contacts. Unfortunately there’s no way to recover what wasn’t properly exported originally. You may need to manually add back some missing contacts.

Step-By-Step Guide to Restore Contacts from SD Card

Here is a step-by-step guide to restoring your contacts from an SD card backup:

On Android Phone

1. Insert your old SD card into your new Android phone.
2. Open your phone’s Settings app.
3. Go to Settings -> Import/Export Contacts
4. Tap Import from SD card.
5. Select the .vcf file on the SD card.
6. Confirm to import all contacts.
7. Contacts are now restored on your new phone!

On Computer

1. Use card reader to connect SD card to computer.
2. Browse files and folders to find contacts.vcf file.
3. Copy contacts.vcf file to your computer.
4. Open file in spreadsheet program or email client.
5. Alternatively, import .vcf into iCloud, Gmail or other contacts app.
6. Contacts now accessible again on your computer or cloud!

With Backup App

1. Install app like Syncios on computer.
2. Connect SD card to computer.
3. Open backup app and select SD card backup recovery option.
4. Select contacts.vcf file on SD card.
5. Choose export option to save contacts to computer.
6. Contacts are extracted from SD card backup!


Restoring contacts from an SD card backup is straightforward if you follow the right steps. The key is getting that .vcf file off the card and into any device or program that supports the vCard format.

With Android’s built-in import tools, computer file transfer, or third-party apps, you can access those old contacts again as long as they were properly backed up. Back up regularly and double check the files to avoid issues down the road.