How to fix corrupted SD card on Android without computer?

Having a corrupted SD card can be extremely frustrating, especially when you need to access files stored on it. Thankfully, there are several ways to try and fix SD card corruption issues directly on your Android device, without needing a computer.

What Causes an SD Card to Become Corrupted?

There are a few common causes of SD card corruption on Android devices:

  • Improperly ejecting the SD card before removing it from your device
  • Experiencing a sudden power loss while writing data to the card
  • Using low quality or fake SD cards that are prone to errors
  • Transferring files that did not fully copy over
  • Virus or malware infection
  • Physical damage to the card

When corruption occurs, you may experience a variety of symptoms such as inability to access files, missing or garbled data, or frequent error messages when trying to open files on the SD card.

First Steps – Remount the SD Card

If your Android device is not recognizing the SD card at all, the first step is to remount it which essentially resets the connection between the phone and the card. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > Storage
  2. Tap on the SD card name
  3. Tap on the 3-dot menu icon in the top right corner
  4. Select “Mount” from the menu

Remounting the card this way will often resolve issues of the phone not detecting the SD card. However, it does not fix actual corruption of data on the card itself.

Check for Physical Damage

Before trying any other troubleshooting steps, physically inspect your SD card for any signs of damage. Look for:

  • Chipped edges
  • Bent card body
  • Scratches on the metal contacts
  • Any other visible flaws

If physical damage is present, the SD card is most likely unusable and will need to be replaced. Trying to fix extensive physical damage is not worthwhile.

Restart Your Android Device

Restarting your Android device essentially refreshes the operating system and all components, including the SD card reader. You’d be surprised how often a simple restart can resolve SD card related problems.

To restart an Android phone or tablet:

  1. Long press the power button for about 30 seconds until the device shuts down
  2. Once fully powered off, press the power button again to turn it back on

Allow the device to fully start up before reinserting your SD card if it was ejected during the restart.

Try a Different SD Card Reader

The SD card reader built into your Android device itself could potentially be damaged or defective if the SD card is not being read properly. Trying an external USB card reader can help determine if the issue is with the SD card or phone/tablet card reader.

You can buy USB SD card readers very cheaply. If your card works properly when inserted into one of these, the problem is with your Android device. If the external reader also fails to read the card, then the card itself is likely corrupted or damaged in some way.

Check the Filesystem for Errors

Filesystem errors can often cause SD card corruption. Android provides a built-in tool called fsck (file system check) that scans and repairs filesystem problems on storage devices. Here is how to run it:

  1. Access recovery mode – the method varies by device but usually involves a special key combo on boot.
  2. From the recovery menu use the volume keys to scroll to the fsck option.
  3. Select the SD card partition.
  4. Allow fsck to run – it will scan and attempt to fix errors.

After fsck finishes, reboot your device as normal and check if the SD card is now functioning properly. This process can help repair filesystem issues that may be contributing to corruption.

Format the SD Card

If all else fails, formatting the SD card may be necessary to fix stubborn corruption issues. Formatting wipes all data on the card and recreates the filesystem from scratch. Make sure anything important on the card has been copied off first.

To format an SD card on Android:

  1. Go to Settings > Storage
  2. Select your SD card
  3. Tap Format
  4. Confirm format when prompted

Once formatting is complete, reboot your device and reinsert the SD card. The card should now be empty and free from corruption errors.

Tips to Avoid Corruption in the Future

Here are some tips to help prevent SD card corruption down the road:

  • Never remove the card when files are still being written to it.
  • Always unmount the card before removing it from your device.
  • Avoid low quality or counterfeit SD cards.
  • Regularly back up important files from the SD card.
  • Check cards occasionally with fsck to find and fix errors.

When to Consider Professional Data Recovery

If you have extremely important files on an SD card that has become corrupted, professional data recovery services may be able to help retrieve the data. This involves specialized techniques and equipment to physically repair and read data from damaged media. The cost for data recovery varies greatly based on the severity of the corruption and where you are located. It tends to range from $100 to over $1000 USD in some cases.

Professional SD card data recovery should be considered when:

  • DIY troubleshooting methods have failed completely.
  • The files are irreplaceable and absolutely must be recovered.
  • Cost is not a major factor or limitation.

Reputable companies like Gillware, Secure Data Recovery, and DriveSavers offer SD card data recovery services with varying price points and options. Sending your damaged SD card to a professional lab may be your last resort for retrieving precious photos, documents, or other data.

Using Android’s Built-in Disk Utilities

Android has some built-in disk utilities that can help diagnose and potentially resolve SD card corruption issues:


The DiskInfo app displays detailed technical information about your SD card like capacity, manufacturer, speed class rating, and health status. It can also benchmark read/write speeds to check for issues.

SD Card Test

This app lets you scan your SD card for errors as well as stress test it by reading and writing random data. It will report any performance issues or bad sectors it finds.

SD Card Formatter

Unlike the standard Android formatting tool, this utility does a deeper low-level format which erases all data and resets the card back to factory condition.

These utilities are freely available on the Google Play store and relatively easy to use. While they do not guarantee a fix for corruption, they can provide valuable diagnostics to help identify the underlying issue.

Trying Alternative Recovery Tools

There are various third party Android apps that claim to recover lost or corrupted data from SD cards. Some popular options include:

App Name Key Features
DiskDigger Dig deep to recover permanently deleted files from SD cards
Remo Recover Get back lost photos, videos, music files and more
UndeleteMyFiles Pro Restore accidentally deleted files on SD cards

Be cautious with third party data recovery apps. Read reviews and research carefully before downloading to avoid scams. Also be aware these tools may only work for retrieving deleted files vs fixing true filesystem corruption.

When to Consider Replacing the SD Card

If you have tried every troubleshooting step exhaustively with no success, the SD card itself is likely damaged beyond repair. At this point it is best to:

  1. Copy any remaining accessible files off the problem SD card
  2. Replace the SD card with a new one from a reputable brand
  3. Reformat the new replacement card in your Android device

Physically damaged or low quality SD cards inevitably reach end of life. Rather than wasting more time trying to revive them, a replacement is the prudent choice to avoid future corruption issues.


While a corrupted SD card can seem like a catastrophic event, there are many DIY troubleshooting steps you can take to try and fix it directly on an Android device. Start with simpler solutions like remounting or reformatting the card. Move on to more advanced techniques like running fsck scans or trying data recovery apps if needed. With some persistence there is a decent chance of restoring full functionality without a computer.

However, SD cards do inevitably fail with age or physical damage. Be sure to regularly back up your mobile data for this eventuality. And if critical files remain inaccessible even after exhaustive DIY efforts, seeking professional data recovery services may be your last option before conceding to a replacement card.