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

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

      It’s usual to format an SD card. You may need to reuse it as fresh in your camera or Android mobile. Further, the SD card can turn corrupt and leave you with no option than to format to fix the issue. But sometimes, a simple formatting process can become a painful experience. 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.’

      Watch this video to Fix “SD Card won’t Format” Error

      Addressing the issue, in this blog, we will share why formatting errors appear and how you can fix them easily. Plus, how to recover photos etc., from Android or camera SD card that throws format error on trying to access.

      Why Won’t my SD Card Format?

      There can be many reasons for SD card won’t format error. The memory card might be corrupted. Its file system may have turned raw, or your computer doesn’t recognise the SD card at all. All this can prevent the SD card to format it.

      Some of the common causes of SD card format errors are:

      • SD card is corrupt, 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.

      Methods to Fix SD Card Won’t Format Error

      Fortunately, Windows has utilities that can 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 securely recover your photo and video files on it.

      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. A Windows system utility enables 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. You can also format raw SD card by using this method.

      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 systems in Disk Management Window
      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 11/10/8/7 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:

      Diskpart Command Lines to Format SD card
      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 Enter to close the cmd.exe window.

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

      Run CHKDSK to fix SD card
      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:

      • Connect the SD card with computer.
      • In the Search box, type cmd’ in the search box.
      • Right-click cmd and select Run as administrator.
      • 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)
      • 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.

      Method 6: Change Drive Letter (If PC cannot detect SD card)

      You may want to format an SD that is not detected by PC. In such a case, first make your computer to recognize the memory card. For that, assign a drive letter to the SD card. After which you can format it as normal.

      Steps to format SD card, which is not detected by PC:

      • Connect the SD card to PC via card reader.
      • In the Windows Run dialogue, typecompmgmt.msc.
      • Hit Enter.
      • Under Storage option, select Disk Management.
      • Right-click on the volume for which you to change drive letter and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
      • In the dialog box, click on Change.
      Change Drive Letter and Paths
      Figure: Change Drive letter option in Windows 10
      • Check in Assign following drive letter.
      • Select the new drive letter. Click OK.
      • Close the Disk Management window and restart the computer.
      • Now connect the SD card to PC. It should be readable. Once the PC detects the SD card you can format it.

      How to Recover your photos & 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.

      Free Download for Windows  Free Download for Mac

      Prevent SD card errors: 5 Golden Rules!

      1. Never use the same SD card on multiple devices.
      2. Always format the new SD card before using.
      3. Turn off the camera/ Android before removing SD card.
      4. Always use ‘Eject’ to remove SD card from computer.
      5. Regularly format SD card instead of ‘Deleting’.

      Wrapping Up

      Often formatting is necessary to fix SD card issues or reuse SD card in camera and other device. If you are not able to format SD card due to ‘won’t format’ error or other reasons, try the solutions shared in this post. The given methods are effective and easy.

      Further, if the situation allows don’t forget to back-up your SD card photos and videos before formatting. Nevertheless, you can always trust Stellar Photo Recovery software that can restore lost media files from SD card throwing format error. The advanced algorithms of the software can even sometimes extract files from formatted SD cards. It’s advisable to get the trial version of the SD card recovery software, and assess its performance.

      Download for Windows Download for Mac


      You can format raw SD card by using Disk Management or Diskpart command line utility.

      Its’ possible your SD card is not properly inserted or is physically damaged. Try by reinserting the SD card slot of the camera. If you still cannot format SD card in camera, try formatting it on PC. Connect the camera SD card to computer. On your PC, right-click on the SD card, under the connected devices list. Select Format. Choose the file system and click on the Start button.

      If SD card won’t format on Android, remove and reinsert the card in device. In case the Android phone still can’t format the SD card, format it on Windows PC.

      If you cannot format 32GB SD card to FAT32 by choosing ‘Format’ after right clicking on the storage drive on PC, try formatting it to FAT32 by using Disk partition utility on PC.

      Reinsert the SD card to Mac and follow the below steps to format it:

      • From Finder, go to the Applications   folder.
      • Navigate to Utilities > Disk Utility.
      • Select your SD card and click Erase.
      • In the dialog box, name the storage card. Select the format.
      • Click Erase button. Click Done when the process finishes. Also Read: How to fix corrupt SD card on Mac and recover lost photos.

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      About The Author

      Nishat Paiker linkdin

      Nishat Paiker is an expert technical writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. She has deep knowledge about data recovery and loves to explore new technology and DIY tools. Nishat has keen interest in photography. You will often find her giving photography tips and hacks.


      1. Hi,

        What if you don’t recieve an error message and its a brand new SD card that just will not allow you to use it in any way and prevents you from formatting without an error message?

        1. Hi Haley,
          New SD card can be prone to some error and wont format easily. However, there are some other ways to format the SD card. Please refer to the blog to know more.

        1. Hi Solo,
          You can easily remove the write-protection from SD card using Diskpart command, Windows Registry Editor or Group Policy. Please check our other article to know better methods to remove the write protection from SD card.

      2. I’ve got a brand new SD card and it won’t even read it it it says no card do I need to format it too even though it’s

        1. Hi Barbara,
          It’s a good practice to format the SD card after every use, even though its a new card. Try formatting the card and see if the error is fixed. If not, then you may need to follow the methods in the blog or change the card.

      3. HI am prince my sd card can not download anythin please any short method to restored it back

        1. Hi Prince,
          You can perform chkdsk operation using a Windows computer to fix any corruption in the card. Or you can reformat it to make it new. Recovering data from your Sd card wont be any problem with Stellar Photo Recovery. Please check our other blog to find other possible solutions.

        2. Hi Prince,
          You can perform chkdsk operation using a Windows computer to fix any corruption in the card. Or you can reformat it to make it new. Recovering data from your Sd card wont be any problem with Stellar Photo Recovery. Please check our other blog to find other possible solutions.

      4. Its not formatting and I really need the footage from my SD card. None of the methods worked, Is there any other way?

        1. Hi Manoj,
          If your SD card is not getting detected or not appearing on Disk Management then it must have been corrupted and damaged. In such a case, you can send your SD card to Stellar Data Recovery Lab. Our tech guys can easily recover the files from your inaccessible SD card.

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