How to Fix “SD Card won’t format” Error?

Summary: SD card is unable to format and showing error? Learn how to fix ‘SD card won’t format’ error by using Windows utilities and other methods. Also, learn how to recover lost photos and videos from a storage card showing format error.

How to Fix “SD Card won’t format” Error? How to Fix “SD Card won’t format” Error?

It’s usual to format an SD card. You may need to reuse the memory card as fresh in your camera or Android mobile. Sometimes the SD card turns corrupt and leaves you with no option than to format it to fix the issue. But sometimes, a simple formatting process can put you in trouble. You may face situations when your SD card won’t format and give unexpected errors, such as,

‘Windows was unable to complete the format SD card.’

‘Memory card not formatted. Operation failed.’

‘Formatting FAT32 failed.’’

‘The format did not complete successfully.’

‘Unable to format. SD card is write protected.’

So addressing the issue, in this blog, we will share why formatting errors appear and how you can fix them easily.

Common causes of SD card format errors

  • SD card is corrupt and has developed bad sectors
  • SD card infected with virus
  • Your SD card is write-protected, so you cannot make any changes on it
  • File system error in SD card won’t let you format.

How to Fix SD Card Won’t Format Error on PC

A normal format method in File Explorer usually involves the below steps:

  1. Right-click on the SD card on your computer.
  2. Select Format.
  3. Select required file system and check in Quick format.
  4. Click Start button.

Or if you have a corrupted SD Card, you may receive a message that asks to format SD card now. You simply click on the ‘Yes’ option.

However, in any of the case, incomplete or failed SD card format error message may pop up.

The approach to fix SD card failed formatting attempt is to use a different way to format your storage drive. Fortunately, Windows has utilities that let you format the storage drive. Other than that, you may use a SD card formatter software, which is comparatively simple-to-use. But before you fix ‘unable to format error’ in camera or Android SD card, it’s important to secure your photos and videos on it.

First thing to do: Recover photos and videos from SD Card that won’t format

Formatting naturally leads to data loss from the storage drive. So if you have precious photos and videos in SD card that you don’t want to lose, always take a backup before formatting.

Just in case if you forget to take backup and receive the SD card format error, it is recommended to first restore your photos and videos with the help of Stellar Photo Recovery.

The widely used software works on all camera SD cards including SDHC, SDXC, microSD card, etc. It can recover deleted photos and videos from corrupt, formatted, or inaccessible SD cards giving format error on Mac and Windows computer.

Photo RecoveryPhoto Recovery Mac

Methods to Fix SD Card Won’t Format Error on computer

  1. Remove write protection on SD Card
  2. Format SD Card in Windows Disk Management
  3. Clean SD Card using DiskPart utility
  4. Run CHKDSK to fix SD card won’t format error
  5. Use SD Card Formatter software

Method 1: Remove Write Protection on SD Card

Write protected SD card won’t format
Figure: Write protected SD card won’t format

Turn off the write-protection switch of your SD card. If it’s turned on, you cannot format or do any other action on the media like open, save or copy files.

Method 2: Format SD card in Windows Disk Management

When SD card won’t format in Windows File Explorer, try formatting it using Windows Disk Management. It is a Windows system utility that enables you to view and manage the drives and their partitions installed on your PC. It allows you to do a variety of useful actions including formatting the drive. 

Steps to format SD card in Windows Disk Management:

  • In the search box, type Computer Management.
  • Select Computer Management from the list.
  • Click on Disk Management in the left pane.
 Disk Management window-Fix SD Card Won't Format Error
Figure: Disk Management window
  • In the Disk Management window, find and right-click on your SD card and select Format.
  • Select a file system from FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT.
File system options in Format in computer management -Fix SD Card Won't Format Error
Figure: File system options in Format
  • Select Perform a quick format option and click OK.

Method 3: Clean SD Card using DiskPart

DiskPart is a command-line disk partitioning utility of Windows 10/8/7 computer. It lets you clean or format the disk and fixes the –‘SD card unable to format’ error. DiskPart format command helps in quick formatting of a disk or partition to NTFS or FAT32.

Warning: Any wrong command line can lead to severe data loss. Always backup your drives before applying DiskPart in command prompt. However, if you are not familiar with the command lines, don’t try to fix the formatting error in your SD card using this method.

Steps to format SD card in CMD using DiskPart command:

Format SD card Command lines in diskpart-Fix SD Card Won't Format Error
Figure: Command lines in diskpart
  • Connect SD card to PC.
  • Press Windows+ R keys. In the Run dialog box, type cmd and hit Enter.
  • In the CMD.exe window, type diskpart to open DiskPart command prompt.
  • Type list disk, press Enter.
  • Type select disk X, (X is the disk number). Hit Enter to select the SD card drive you want to format.
  • Type list partition Y, (Y is partition number).Hit Enter.
  • Type format fs=ntfs quick. Hit Enter.
  • Once done, type exit. Press Enterto close the cmd.exe window.

Method 4: Run CHKDSK to fix SD card won’t format error

Chkdsk commands in CMD window-Fix SD Card Won't Format Error
Figure: Chkdsk commands in CMD window

When Windows is unable to complete formatting of SD card and gives error such as ‘cannot format memory card’, run CHKDSK. The CHKDSK command checks and repairs errors on the disk.

Steps to fix SD card formatting errors using chkdsk command:

  1. Connect the SD card with computer.
  2. In the Search box, type cmd’ in the search box.
  3. Right-click cmd and select Run as administrator.
  4. The cmd.exe window opens. Type ‘chkdsk’ followed by the drive letter of your SD card, a colon and /f. (For example, chkdsk G: /f)
  5. Hit Enter. The check and repair process begins. This may take several minutes to finish.

Once done, a message appears in the command window – ‘Windows has made corrections to the file system’. Now you can access your SD card or format it as required.

Method 5: Use SD Card Formatter software

When you are not able to format SD card using Windows Disk Management, CMD or other methods, try to format with an SD card formatter software.

An SD Card Formatter works on all types of memory cards used in DSLRs, Android, security cameras, etc. You can use it to fix SD cards that won’t format on Mac or Windows computer.


Hope this post was helpful. You can fix your SD card formatting issue using Windows Disk Management; running CHKDSK; command lines in DiskPart; and other methods.

However, it’s advisable that if you don’t have technical knowledge about command lines, don’t try using this method, as a wrong command can put you in serious data loss situation. Also, don’t forget to back-up your SD cards photos and videos before formatting. You can use Stellar Photo Recovery software that can restore lost files from formatted or format error throwing SD cards.

It’s better to get the trial version of the SD card recovery software, and assess its performance.

Photo RecoveryPhoto Recovery Mac

Also Read: How to fix corrupt SD card on Mac and recover lost photos