How do I scan my SD card for problems?

Having problems with your SD card? A corrupted or damaged SD card can cause a variety of issues, from phone crashes to lost photos. The good news is that scanning your SD card for errors is easy and can help identify and even fix problems.

Some common questions when it comes to scanning an SD card include:

What are the signs of SD card problems?

There are a few common signs that your SD card may have errors:

  • Your phone suddenly can’t read the SD card
  • You get error messages when trying to access files on the card
  • Files on the card appear corrupted or can’t be opened
  • Your phone crashes or freezes when the SD card is inserted
  • You can’t save new files to the SD card

Any of these issues indicate potential problems with the SD card that should be investigated through scanning and repairing.

Why should I scan my SD card?

Scanning your SD card is important to identify and troubleshoot any problems. SD card issues will only get worse over time if not addressed. Scanning gives you the ability to:

  • Pinpoint the exact problem area on your card
  • Attempt to recover corrupted or deleted files
  • Identify if the physical card is damaged and needs replacing
  • Fix file system errors that could be causing performance issues

Running regular scans gives you the best chance of catching and fixing any SD card problems before they result in lost data or the need to replace the card.

How do I scan and fix an SD card using Windows?

Using Windows File Explorer

Windows contains a built-in tool for scanning and repairing errors on an SD card:

  1. Insert your SD card into your computer’s card reader
  2. Open File Explorer and navigate to your connected SD card
  3. Right click on the SD card name and select Properties
  4. Click the Tools tab, then click Check to scan the card
  5. Wait for the scan to finish. Any errors found will be displayed
  6. Click Repair to automatically fix any found problems

This process will scan the entire card for file system errors and attempt repairs. It can resolve many common SD card corruption issues.

Using Windows Command Prompt

For more advanced scans and repair options, the Windows Command Prompt provides access to powerful utilities:

  1. Insert your SD card and open the Command Prompt as administrator
  2. Type chkdsk E: /f (use your SD card drive letter instead of E:)
  3. Press enter and wait for the scan to finish
  4. Type Y if prompted to repair file system errors

Using chkdsk scans for bad sectors, lost file clusters, cross-linked files, and directory errors. The /f parameter tells it to fix any issues found.

Using a Third-Party Tool

Programs like HDDscan and SD Card Formatter provide advanced options beyond the built-in Windows tools. Key features include:

  • Faster, more comprehensive scanning
  • Repair of unreadable sectors
  • Recovery of deleted files
  • Secure erase to wipe the SD card
  • Customizable scans and output reports

For extreme SD card problems, a dedicated utility like this may be needed to get your card back to a usable state.

How to Scan and Fix an SD Card on Mac

Using Disk Utility

Mac’s built-in Disk Utility can scan for and repair SD card issues:

  1. Connect your SD card to your Mac
  2. Open Disk Utility
  3. Select your SD card on the left side panel
  4. Click First Aid at the top
  5. Choose Run to begin scanning
  6. Allow Disk Utility to repair any problems found

Disk Utility will verify and fix errors with the file system, partitions, and directories on your SD card.

From the Command Line

For more advanced SD card repair, use these Terminal commands:

  1. Insert your SD card and open Terminal
  2. Type diskutil list to identify your SD card path
  3. Run sudo diskutil repairVolume /Volumes/disk2 (use your SD path)
  4. Use diskutil verifyVolume to scan again after repairs

This will fully verify and repair your SD card with detailed logging and progress reporting.

Using a Third-Party App

Software like SD Card Doctor provides functionality lacking in Disk Utility:

  • More robust scanning for errors
  • Data recovery of deleted files
  • Partition editing tools
  • Byte-by-byte disk editor
  • Imaging and cloning capabilities

An app dedicated to SD card repair can rebuild corrupt cards and recover lost data.

How to Scan and Fix an SD Card on Mobile

Using Android Settings

Android has built-in tools for scanning external storage like SD cards:

  1. Go to Settings > Storage
  2. Select your SD card
  3. Tap Storage settings
  4. Choose SD card details > Run diagnostics

This will start a read/write test on your card to identify bad sectors. Use caution, as this can result in data loss.

Via a File Manager App

Many Android file manager apps include SD card scanning features:

  • ES File Explorer – Tap the SD card, choose ‘Scan’ > ‘ScanAndRepair’
  • FX File Explorer – Long press the SD card, select ‘Diagnostics’ > ‘Check Filesystem’

Using one of these file manager tools provides a quick way to scan from your home screen.

Using Manufacturer Tools

SD card manufacturers like SanDisk and Lexar provide free tools for card scanning and repair:

  • SanDisk Memory Zone – Scans, provides diagnostic info, and recovers photos.
  • Lexar Quick Scan – Checks for read/write errors and fixes file system issues.

Tools designed specifically for a brand can provide the best option for addressing issues on those cards.

How to Scan and Fix an SD Card on iPhone/iPad

Options for scanning an SD card on iOS are limited. You can try these methods:

  • Using a Mac – Connect your iPhone SD adapter to a Mac and use Disk Utility
  • Via a Photos App – Import photos to an app like Picture Rescue to scan for corrupted images
  • With a Third-Party Tool – Use a dedicated SD card reader/repair tool connected to your iPhone

While iOS itself lacks built-in tools for this, connecting through a Mac or external hardware provides scanning abilities.

When to Reformat vs Replace an SD Card

If scanning reveals unfixable issues, you may need to reformat or replace the SD card. Here are guidelines on when to attempt each option:

When to Reformat the SD Card

  • Errors limited to just the file system rather than hardware
  • Card works normally after repairs, but files still corrupted
  • Need to permanently erase all data on the card

Reformatting rewrites the entire file system which can fix stubborn software-level corruption.

When to Replace the SD Card

  • Frequent errors and bad sectors on the card
  • Card shows signs of physical damage
  • Reformatting does not resolve file corruption issues
  • Card is reporting errors during the boot process

An SD card with evidence of hardware defects or failure should be replaced, as it will likely continue causing problems.

Best Practices to Avoid SD Card Corruption

Following certain guidelines when using your SD card can help avoid corruption:

  • Safely eject the card before removing it
  • Avoid dropping or bending the card
  • Keep the card away from liquids, heat, and magnets
  • Store cards in a protective case
  • Back up your files frequently

SD cards are fragile devices that need proper handling and maintenance. Following best practices will minimize your chances of data loss.


Scanning and repairing a corrupted SD card is essential to identify problems before they result in permanent data loss or device issues. Utilizing built-in tools in Windows, Mac, and Android provides a handy first step in fixing errors. For tougher card problems, dedicated third-party software offers advanced diagnostics and data recovery capabilities. With the right scanning tools, you stand the best chance of catching and fixing SD card issues before they become severe.