How to fix a damaged SD card on an Android phone without losing any data

How to repair a damaged SD card on an Android phoneHave you ever gotten that mildly heartbreaking “SD card damaged / You may have to reformat it” message on your Android phone? Alas, I’ve seen it quite a few times on my HTC Desire.

I don’t know if it’s the actual device that causes the error, my 16GB SD card or even Android itself. I’m starting to think that the green bot is to blame, because every time I’ve received the “SD card damaged” message on my Android phone, I’ve been able to put the “damaged” memory card in an old Symbian or WinMo device, and it has worked just fine. Here’s how you hopefully can fix a broken SD card on Android without losing any precious data.

The (likely) solution in one sentence: put the SD card in another phone (or a memory card reader), connect it to your computer as a disk drive, run a Windows disk check on it, backup its contents and then put the memory card back in your Android phone. Voilà!

1) Make sure the SD card is connected

First of all, try to simply take out your SD card, put it back in and then start your device and check if Android recognizes it. This will likely not fix the issue, but since it would be the quickest solution, it’s worth a try.

2) Put the card in another phone

If the above didn’t help, find one of your old phones, or use a friend’s, that supports the SD card in question. Now take the allegedly damaged memory card, put it in the other device and connect it to your computer in mass storage mode (mount it). If you have a memory card reader with a USB interface, you can of course use that instead.

If your SD card really is damaged, it may not work in the other phone either. But every time Android has complained about my SD card being broken, it has worked flawlessly in a Symbian or WinMo device. So chances are that will be the case for you as well.

3) Scan the SD card for errors

If you now can access the SD card via your computer, use your operating system’s tools to scan the memory card for errors. On Windows XP, this is done by right-clicking on the SD card in the file manager, then clicking Properties > Tools > Error-checking > Check Now. Under Check disk options, select the “Automatically repair errors in the file system” check box and click Start. Your computer will try to fix all potential errors in the file system.

4) Make a backup

If you want to make sure that you won’t lose any data, then make a backup of your SD card by copying its contents to your computer’s hard drive. If a certain file cannot be copied for whatever reason, there’s a slight chance it may be to blame for the Android hiccup. If it’s not a terribly important file, delete it from your SD card.

5) Put the SD card back in your Android, hope for the best

Now put the SD card back in your Android phone again, and hopefully it will work fine now. If it doesn’t, then at least you have a backup of it now, and you can let Android format the card. Restore the backup from your computer later, and everything will be back to normal.

Ideally, there would be an app that can fix what Android believes to be a damaged file system straight from your phone. Do you know any more ways to fix a damaged SD card? Feedback is appreciated.
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  • saurabh

    the other option is to delete the android data including all the apps folders. it will definitly solve the problem no need to delete your songs videos pdfs etc

  • getthegoose

    Thank you for this very helpful guide. Let me share what happened with my SD card.

    This happened to me for the first time 2 years ago with my SE Xperia 8. I found and used the solution described above in the first para before solution #1: switch off phone, remove SD card, use a card reader on PC to read/see phone’s folders/files, then remove card from card reader and re-insert card back into phone and switch on phone. I did all those steps and it worked! No more permanent SD card error on my phone. When the error came on, I couldn’t use my phone camera; but I do not use it much anyway.

    Since several months ago, I got the same SD card error. The phone still works fine, so I just lived with it. Trying to fix it today. I did what I did before, again and again, but this time was different. No go.

    I was getting the prompt on my PC (Win7) to ‘scan and automatically repair damaged files on disk’. However, when I clicked ‘Ok’, the scan starts and then after about 1 minute or one tenth of the progress bar, it stops, the scanning window disappears, the ‘on’ light on the card reader goes off, and when I go to Computer, I don’t see the SD card (‘F’ disk), although I could see it when first plugging in the card reader and before doing the scanning.

    So here’s what happened. Whilst the SD card was still inside the card reader attached to my PC but still invisible, and me wondering what to do next, my PC suddenly auto-shut down due to critically low battery level (which I hadn’t noticed).

    After plugging in power and it reached 20%, I rebooted the PC, but before it got to the splash page, a prompt said: There may be a damaged disk on your PC: ‘F’. And several more lines came up. I think this may be a scanning at the bootup stage. The prompt quickly disappeared and bootup proceeded normally. However, I did see one line which said ‘PC Companion is unreadable.’ PCC is an application for file management between PC and phone, including tools for backup, images, etc. You download it to PC and it simultaneously installs on the phone through the USB connection.

    Okay, several months ago, I decided to uninstall PCC on my phone, since I never used it. Come to think of it, that was around when the SD card error came on.

    So after the bootup, I checked the card on my PC and could see all the files/folders in it. I was hoping no data was erased. I safely ejected card from card reader, put it back into my phone, switched on phone, and….VOILA!!! NO more error and the phone worked fine! I checked camera and backup and everything was intact and working as perfectly as before. :-)

  • Danielle

    Well stated! I am “tech savy” and this article is great! Sometimes when you have advanced knowledge it’s easy to forget some of the basics. You know like when a neighbors printer isn’t working, before you start looking within the system for the problem check your plugs. So basic it can easily be overlooked.

  • Lynn

    Still says “Damaged SD card”. Please help! I don’t want to lose my data. Can someone please help me!

  • disqus_eCV84uBzBO

    i can’t scan my sd card on my computer!! plz someone helps me ! i don’t wonna loose my data :(