SD card data recovery: How to recover deleted or lost files from SD card?

Updated by Tim to Data Recovery Tips on June 28th, 2021

In this digital era, people are fond of saving various files like photos, music, movies, etc. to the tiny but powerful storage device - SD card. However, this portable device is also at the risk of losing data, just like any other storage devices. This page will show you 5 problems that you probably encounter when you use SD card and share you with a comprehensive tutorial to repair corrupted SD card as well as other SD card errors with no fuss.

Accidentally deleted photos from SD card, how to recover them?

As you can see, SD card is used to extend the storage capacity. However, every coin has two sides. SD cards are also fragile that you may lose data from it. Here is a real example:

I accidentally deleted all my photos on SD card of my Canon DSLR. I immediately removed the card and haven't touched it since. What's the best way to recover lost data from SD card? Thanks!

It really drives you crazy when losing the important files, especially if you have mistakenly taped the "Delete" button. Don't panic! SD card data loss is a very hot topic nowadays and many people are facing the same disaster as you. But why does this issue happen so frequently?

It is the common SD card data loss that the user mistakenly deleted the photos/videos from SD card. Files that get deleted aren't usually truly deleted but are instead just hidden, waiting to be overwritten by new files, you can take advantage of this fact and recover deleted files you want back.

After mistakenly deleting precious photos/videos from SD card, we need to stop this SD card immediately and then find a SD card recovery software to recover deleted photos/videos.

Why do you need to stop using the SD card immediately?

Writing new photos/videos may overwrite the lost data on SD card. Once the lost photos/videos are overwritten by new data, the recovery chance will be less.

How to recover deleted files from SD card without software?

There are many reasons for losing files from SD card. The most common one is accidental deletion. For example, you accidentally deleted the photos or videos on digital camera SD memory card. No matter what the cause is, the most urgent thing for you probably is how can you recover your deleted photos from your SD card. Don't worry, this part will show you how to recover deleted data from SD card without software on your PC.

There is a high possibility of data recovery and the reason for this is, when you delete a file on your SD card, the system didn't just erase your files directly and immediately. Instead, it will mark the spaces your files occupied previously as available for new data. In other words, your deleted files are still here before you saving anything new to overwrite them. Therefore, the key point of such SD card data recovery is not to overwrite the deleted files.

To recover deleted files from SD card, you need to stop using this card and don't do any further operation like saving new files, adding other files to this storage devices, changing existing files' location, etc.

Here is the way to recover deleted files from SD card without software:

If you didn't recover the deleted files from Recycle Bin successfully, you can check if you can perform SD card data recovery in File History backups or not.

1. Search for "Restore Files" on the taskbar and choose "Restore your files with File History".

2. Click on the folder that you stored the deleted files on previously and check if there is a backup of the files you need.

3. Select the deleted files and click "Restore" to recover the deleted SD card data.

Recover deleted files from a File History backup

How to recover lost data from corrupted SD card?

Other situations will also cause data loss on your SD card. For instance, an SD card is corrupted, becomes inaccessible, or even is formatted by yourself mistakenly.In these cases, you don't have any access to the files on this SD card but run into SD card data recovery software on serach engine.

However, there are so many chioces that you have no idea which one is the best.Are you at loss? Relax and you will know what is the best SD card data recovery software in the following part.

What is the best SD card data recovery software?

The necessary feature of comprehensive and multifunctional SD card data recovery software is the capacibility of recovering your deleted/lost files from SD card in many situations.

Here comes iBoysoft Data Recovery. Accidentally deleted files from the SD card? SD card become inaccessible, RAW, or corrupted all of a sudden? As long as your SD card is not physically damaged, this free SD card data recovery software could bring your files back from the edge of disaster that happened to your SD card, undeleting documents, files, videos, audio, music as well as recover emails from your portable storage devices.

How to recover deleted or lost files from SD card on Windows

Step 1: Connect the SD card to your Windows computer via card reader.

Step 2: Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery on your Windows computer.

Step 3: Launch iBoysoft Data Recovery and choose Data Recovery module.

Data recovery software

Step 4: Select the SD card and then click Next to scan lost data.

Select SD card to scan with iBoysoft Data Recovery

Step 5: After the scan completes, please check/preview the found files or select Save session option from Help menu to save the scan result for continuous recovery next time.

File preview in iBoysoft Data Recovery

Step 6: Click Recover to save the recovered files to another drive, instead of SD card.

How to recover data from a corrupted SD card on Mac

Step 1: Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac.

Step 2: Insert the SD card into your Mac via the card reader and then launch iBoysoft Data Recovery.

Step 3: Select the corrupted SD card and click Next to scan the lost data.

Step 4: After your files are found, check, preview and recover them.

Recover data from SD card

If the failed SD card has a hardware issue, hardware issue is beyond any data recovery software. In that case, please send it to a local data recovery professional for help.

5 most common SD card errors

This section will list 6 most common situations that you need SD card data recovery, read and check if you're one of the victims who lost important files from SD card. If so, try some feasible solutions to fix your SD card errors.

1. SD card corrupt

SD cards are prone to corruption for many reasons, such as sudden ejection when you're transferring files, malware attacks, wobbly connection. Most of the time, you will not be able to access data on this corrupted SD card, and there are some symptoms for a corrupted SD card.

  • Files on this SD card are missing all of a sudden
  • Failure to show a file like pictures or video smoothly
  • SD card is empty when you access it on PC
  • SD card is write-protected when you copy files

2. Mistakenly formatted SD card

After the SD card was mistakenly formatted, it is possible to recover lost data by using the timely and effective SD card data recovery software.

In order to avoid the data being leaked, many users are reluctant to hand over the SD card to others for data recovery and think it is the best choice to recover the lost data from the SD card by themselves. However, we don't have the knowledge of professional data recovery, how should we recover the lost data from the formatted SD card by ourselves?

I believe it is a doubt in many users' minds. However, if the SD card is formatted by a mistake, it is not as difficult as everyone imagined to recover lost data from the formatted SD card. As long as you find a professional SD card data recovery software, you can also use it to complete the timely and effective SD card data recovery work even if you don't know any professional data recovery knowledge beforehand.

3. SD card is not accessible

The following error messages may be feedback on an inaccessible SD card.

 SD card is not accessible

  • "Q:\ is not accessible. Access is denied."
  • "Q:\ is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted or unreadable."
  • "Q:\ is not accessible. The volume does not contain a recognized file system. Please make sure that all required file system drivers are loaded and that the volume is not corrupted."
  • "Q:\ is not accessible. The parameter is incorrect."
  • "Q:\ is not accessible. The disk structure is corrupted and unreadable."

3. SD card 0 bytes, RAW or unknown file system

SD card RAW file system is a common problem for every SD card user, but it is still unknown for most users about how to fix RAW SD card and recover lost pictures/videos.

After encountering RAW SD card error, the user becomes unable to access anything stored on SD card. If we check the properties of this SD card in disk management, we will find the used space and free space are showing 0 bytes. Moreover, the file system is shown as RAW instead of FAT or NTFS.

RAW SD card

To access SD card, you have to format RAW SD card, but formatting would erase all the data from SD card, so it is not preferred until you recover data from RAW SD card.

4. SD card is not formatted

1) If the SD card is not formatted on your mobile phone, first consider whether the SD card is not compatible with your mobile phone, or if you have purchased a pirated SD card.

SD card not formatted error

2) The SD card is not recognized by the computer. Maybe the file system of the SD card is corrupted (Such as: SD card is not accessible, the parameter is incorrect), or the SD card is not safely ejected after using it.

3) Virus attack. Maybe the SD card is infected by virus from other computer, so SD card is not formatted when accessing it in the explorer.

4) SD card is write protected. Some SD cards have a inbuilt LOCK switch, please pay attention to check if it is off. Maybe the card reader is malfunctioned, there is something wrong when connecting to the computer, or some card readers can only be used for the specific brand model of SD card.

5) Hardware issue. For example, SD card showing incorrect capacity or lost its full capacity (64GB, detect 31MB) in Disk Management; Windows is unable to complete the format on SD card; Even SD card is not showing up in Disk Management.

RAW SD card

6) Check if there is something wrong with the card reader or USB port is faulty, you can change the card reader or a computer to check it.

5. Read/Write error on SD card

When you try to access the SD card through Windows or Mac computer, no folder and file appear, or the folders and files cannot open and show error message: Read/Write error on SD card.

6. Other SD card errors

The most horrible thing for you could be an SD card error when you don't even know what happened but your SD card is just not working normally. For example, your SD card is not showing up on Mac nor on PC. If you are facing with certain SD card errors, you can repair some common SD card errors with the following solutions after you have recovered your data from the SD card.

Method 1: Check connection

It is possible that SD card is not readable on Mac or PC because of a faulty connection. The most foolproof solution is to connect the SD card to another card reader or slot, which is able to fix the SD card problems due to a wobbly connection.

Method 2: Change the drive letter of the SD card

This process of changing the drive letter will endeavor to load and repair the file system of your unreadable SD card. Just try to fix your SD card with the tutorial below.

  • Step 1: Right-click on My Computer (Vista/XP)/Computer (Windows 7/8)/This PC (Windows 10) icon on the desktop and choose "Manage".
  • Step 2: In the left sidebar, select "Disk Management" under Storage.
  • Step 3: Locate the SD card in question by disk information and right-click on it to choose "Change Drive Letter and Path…".
  • Step 4: Follow the wizard to finish the drive letter change process.

Method 3: Repair the SD card error with CMD

You can also repair corrupted SD card using CMD if you're confident in command prompt. It is a Windows utility that can check and fix various file system errors of SD card, such as bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files, and directory errors, etc.

  • Step 1: Type "cmd" in your Windows search box and press Enter.
  • Step 2: Right-click it and choose "Run as Administrator".
  • Step 3: Type "chkdsk *: /f" ( * is the drive letter of your SD card) into the Command Prompt window and press Enter.
  • Step 4: When the SD card repair is successful, type "exit" and press Enter.

You can try to repair this SD card error through CHKDSK command usually, but if you will receive the message" CHKDSK is not available for RAW drives" you may need to recover lost data from this SD card instead.

How to avoid SD card data loss again?

According to a research, the average life span of the flash memory storage devices is less than 5 years, so it is annoying if you want to keep some files like precious family photos for a long time. Moreover, your SD card could fail suddenly for unknown reasons. Even though you can perform SD card recovery when you're facing data loss, it is still necessary to extend the life of your SD card from long-term perception. There are some suggestions to keep your SD card standing longer.

1. Always safely eject your SD card

Make sure you properly remove the SD card every time you finish working, and you need to do this before you shut down electronic devices like PC, camera, mobile phones, etc. If the read-write process to an SD card frequently stops due to sudden power outage, it will cause great damage to its ability to read and write, just imagine that you're choked by peanuts.

2. Equip different devices with different SD card

In order to avoid incompatible file system issues, like the RAW file system, don't share a single SD card with many different electronic devices.

3. Take out the SD card from PC timely

When you finish your work on the PC, don't just leave it connecting to your computer all the time.

4. Protect your SD card from physical damage

Physical damages include hot, wet, cold, dusty or magnetic surroundings and dropping from high places. Don't bend or twist your SD card, or else even the best SD card data recovery software is unable to help you.

5. Regularly back up your files

In case of losing data from SD card unnecessarily, backup is always the best choice for SD card data recovery.

SD card data recovery FAQ

Q: I mistakenly deleted a few important photos and then take several new photos with my digital camera, is there any way to recover the deleted photos?

A: It depends on whether the deleted photos have been overwritten by new photos or not, please download iBoysoft Data Recovery and have a try.

Q: Can I recover deleted/lost videos from SD card?

A: If the videos are larger, the recovery chance is less. Because of FAT32/exFAT file system (The most commonly used file system of SD card is FAT32 and exFAT) its own properties, the clusters where stored the large files are not continuous so that the large files cannot be recovered. Even if the recovered videos have the original file names and correct size, they still cannot be opened.

Q: SD card is not recognized by PC or Mac.

A: There are many factors caused it. Please recheck the connections. Sometimes cleaning the card reader slot solves the issue. Otherwise, a driver update for your card reader is a solution.

A another reason can be due to the broken/corrupt SD card (In this situation, you need to send the corrupted/broken SD card to a local data recovery service for data recovery).

Q: Windows is unable to complete the format on RAW SD card.

A: Please try diskpart format command, SD card formatter, SD card production tool.

Q: My SD card is unreadable when I place it in my USB, the problem is that I can't even get it to be recognized on iBoysoft Data Recovery I have downloaded. It just says it is unreadable with the computer and I can either initialize, ignore, or eject. I don't want to lose any of my data and I don't know what to do. The card was working fine last night so I am not sure what changed!

A: It should be a hardware issue, please send it to a local data recovery service for help.

Q: My SD card is corrupted and I am not able to recover my data as it was zero bytes disk space. Even I have tried deep scan with iBoysoft Data Recovery but still it was not helpful. Kindly help me out and provide me necessary solution to fix this problem

A: It should be a hardware issue, please send it to a local data recovery service for help.

Q: SD card works in camera but not on computer.

A: 1. Change a card reader and then check if SD card works; 2. Change a computer and check if SD card works; 3. Try iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover lost data.

Q: My SD card all of a sudden says corrupt and all the files saved on it are not on my phone anymore. I tried to plug it into a USB for the SD card reader and nothing was coming up on the computer, I still couldn't see any files. Before I order any products, will the product be able to recover anything if the SD card is not read?

A: Please try iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover lost data before purchasing.

Q: The unreadable SD card i am trying to recover does not appear in iBoysoft Data Recovery window either. It does not recognize it.

A: Method 1. Change another card reader or computer and then check if your SD card can be read; Method 2. It should have a hardware issue, please send the unreadable SD card to a local data recovery professional for help.

Q: My Mac gives the message "The Disk you inserted was not readable by this computer" when I attach my SD card to my Mac via the card reader.

A: Method 1. Change another card reader or computer and then check if your SD card can be read; Method 2. Try iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover data from unreadable SD carad; Method 3. Send the unreadable SD card to a local data recovery professional for help.

Q: My SD card was working fine the day before and suddenly my phone couldn't detect the card anymore. When I insert the SD card into a tablet, it says SD card couldn't be read and to format the card.

A: 1. Try iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover lost data; 2. Send the corrupted SD card to a local data recovery service for help.

Q: When I insert my SD card to android phone and reports: "This SD card is not supported. Tap to set it to supported from" Then I tap it, it tells "Erase and format" But I do not want to format it because my data stored in SD card, please tell me how to fix it.

A: 1. Try iBoysoft Data Recovery to recover lost data; 2. Send the corrupted SD card to a local data recovery service for help.