How to Fix a Non-Functional microSD

by Jeff Grundy
David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As long as you handle a microSD card carefully and keep it protected -- either in a storage case or in a device that uses it -- it should last for several years. Nevertheless, you might experience certain problems with a microSD card that lead you to believe the device is broken or defective. Common problems with microSD usually relate to formatting or write errors. However, in most cases, you can resolve these types of microSD errors using a few relatively simple techniques.

Recover Files

Step 1

Insert the microSD card into the appropriate slot on the card reader. Connect the data cable from the card reader to a free USB port on the computer. Wait a few seconds for Windows to detect the card reader and microSD card and configure them for use automatically.

Step 2

Press "Windows-E" and then click "Computer." Double-click the drive letter assigned to the microSD card by Windows. Verify that Windows displays a "Drive not formatted" error and asks if you want to format the drive. Close the error message and File Explorer window.

Step 3

Download an application that enables you to recover files from corrupt drives and storage devices such as microSD cards. Free programs such as Asoftech Data Recovery, iCare Recovery Free and AnySoftwareTools Data Recovery Software (links in Resources) are all compatible with microSD cards and enable you to recover files from the device even if Windows will not display the data due to format or partition issues. Save the application setup file to your computer.

Step 4

Press "Windows-E" and then click "Downloads" in the File Explorer window. Scroll-down to and double-click the setup file for the recovery application. If prompted, accept the license agreement and then follow the remaining prompts to install the file recovery program on the computer. Restart the computer if prompted.

Step 5

Launch the recovery application on the computer. Select the drive letter or volume name of the microSD card in the Drive or Partition viewing pane of the recovery application.

Step 6

Click the "Recover" or "Scan and Recover" button in the recovery application. Wait a few minutes for the application to scan the microSD card and recover files from the device.

Click "Save" or "Save To" and select a folder in which to save the files recovered from the microSD card. Alternatively, click "New" or "New Folder" and create a new folder in which to save the files. Close the recovery application.

Repair the Formatting Error

Step 1

Press "Windows-E" to open File Explorer. Click "Computer" and then double-click the drive letter of the microSD card. Windows displays a "The disk in the drive is not formatted" error and prompts you to format the drive. Click the "Yes" button and the Format Removable Disk window opens.

Step 2

Click the "File System" drop-down list and select the file system with which you want to format the microSD card. If you intend to use the card for use in Windows only, select the "NTFS" option. If you want to be able to use the card with other operating system such as Linux or OS X on a Mac, select the default "FAT32" option.

Step 3

Enter a descriptive volume name for the microSD card into the "Volume Label" field. Enable the "Quick Format" option and then click "Start."

Step 4

Click "OK" when Windows displays the warning message stating that all data on the drive will be lost. Wait a minute or two for Windows to format the microSD card, click the "OK" button after the format finishes and then click "Close" to exit the Format window.

Step 5

Click "C:" drive letter and navigate to the folder where you saved the recovered data from the microSD card. Open the folder and press "Ctrl-A" to select all of the subfolders and files. Press "Ctrl-C" to copy the files and folders to the Windows Clipboard.

Double-click the drive letter of the microSD card and then press "Ctrl-V" to paste the recovered files and folders back to the device.


  • If your card reader does not have a dedicated microSD slot you can use the regular SD card. To do this, first insert the microSD card into the SD adapter that shipped with the device. After you insert the microSD card into the SD card adapter, slide the adapter into the SD card slot on the card reader.
  • If Windows displays a "Write" or "Write-Protection" error when you try to copy files to the microSD card, you may need to disable the adapter lock on the card. Remove the card from the SD bracket adapter and slide the switch on the side of the card to the "unlocked" position. If the card does not have an "unlocked" label or icon indicator, push the switch in the direction that faces position of the metallic leads.


Photo Credits

  • David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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