How to recover files on a corrupted SD card?

SD cards are very practical and effective for data backup, but they are very fragile. We use them most often for our smartphones and cameras, so they tend to contain many valuable files.

When an SD card stops working, there is a good chance that you will lose your personal data (photos, videos, documents). However, various free programs allow you to recover files saved on a damaged SD card.

Before you start

Our first advice is not to format the card, otherwise, you will not be able to recover the data it contains.

If you insert your SD card into the slot on your computer and nothing happens, then we recommend using another computer or an external USB card reader. Some are under $ 20 and accept both microSD cards and standard SDs.

Also, sometimes the malfunction comes from the player and not from the card.

File Recovery Software

There are many free programs developed to recover data stored on damaged memory cards.

When using such software, there is no guarantee that you will find your files intact. Some free programs only accept a limited number of files. Before choosing software, check this information. In addition, when installing free software, we strongly recommend that you do not select the “recommended” option.

Instead, prefer the “manual” option and read each instruction carefully before confirming an action.

The Disk Digger program detects SD cards whose contents are not detected by the Windows File Explorer. It can also recover deleted files by mistake.

EaseUS and ZAR (Zero Assumption Recovery) software are also very powerful. In this tutorial we use ZAR.

How to use ZAR?

ZAR is a free program that will help you, in minutes, recover files on your damaged SD.

  1. Install ZAR, then insert your SD card into the drive of your PC.
  2. Start the program. You may need to disable the antivirus on your PC. We advise you to disconnect from the internet.
  3. Click the Image Recovery option.
  4. ZAR searches for connected devices. Select the removable disk and click Next.
  5. ZAR analyzes your SD card. The process may take a few minutes.
  6. Once the operation is complete, you will see a list of recovered files. Check the box in the “Root” folder to select all images.
  7. Click Next, and then select the folder where the recovered files will be placed. It is important that it is on the hard drive of your PC and not on the corrupted SD card.

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The recovered files may have lost their original name and extension. You just have to rename and reorganize them.

Tips for repairing an SD card that no longer works

SD cards of standard size are fragile because of their thin plastic shell. They break easily if they are in your pockets or bags without protective boxes.

Sometimes the switch or lock button (small white or silver colored tab) that secures the contents of the card may break. As a result, it is not possible to read the content or erase it.

If your SD card is not physically damaged and the switch is still in place (in the unlocked position), then you can use one of the native Windows tools.

Your options vary depending on whether your card appears in Windows Explorer or not.

If this is the case then right-click on it, select Properties and then the Tools tab. Finally, click Verify to have Windows scan the map, find errors, and correct them.


If the SD card does not appear in File Explorer, then go to Device Manager from the Start menu.

In this tool, you can see the drives that Windows managed to detect.

If you can not find your SD card in the list, it means that it or the drive no longer works.