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.
  • Dwayne

    I am gonna try ur fixes on my sd from my LG Genesis …just got another 16g sd to start over, hopefully I’ll have two workable sd cards

  • nel

    Thanks man. Ur a big help. Thought 4 sure id have 2 format my card and lose all my media

  • John

    Thank you for this!
    Life saver, recently got a htc and had no problems with it until it randomly didn’t decide to read my sd card, quick search on google, after panicing over loosing 2 years of photo’s, videos, ect. I have it back!
    And only an hour of stressing out for it haha

  • Sunny

    Hi All

    My problem slightly different then this one though i am also getting this error but its for internal memory “Damaged Internal SD card” and written a discription down below “The Internal SD card is damaged. You may have to reformat it.” i have installed froyo 2.2 and am using Samsung galaxy S (M110S) (It is the korean vertion of Samsung Galaxy s 16gig).
    When i reformat it simply does nothing i tryed to reset and flash the phone everything works fine the phone the messages n stuff but it give me this error.

    When i look in to settings> SD card and Phone storage.
    it says
    Total space
    available space
    Mount SD card
    Insert SD card (It is grayed unselectable)
    format SD card (It is grayed unselectable) (May be cos i don’t have external sd card)

    Internal SD card
    Total space
    available space
    Format SD card (Now its selectable ) when i click on it takes me to another option format internal storage and then when i click on it then it does nothing and take me back to sd card menu)
    Internal phone storage
    Available space
    Main storage

    I am not able to install any application because it doesn’t show me any space but i can use all the apps comes with ROM. i think you guys might have idea as the error is same its just internal sd card so any one have clue what should i do? because i am tired of it.

    Please help if any one have solution. or mail me at

    • Anonymous

      Im having the same problem!!mine has been doing it for weeks and even though the sd card is present in my phone,it has been saying for 2 days that the sd card needs to be inaerted.ive tried everything and no luck yet,im also sick of it and I might just get a new phone!

  • graciousone

    Excellent article……much appreciated

  • Mazz

    I had the damaged SD problem with my UK HTC Desire S, SD worked fine in the PC, but the phone refused to read it.
    I copied all my files to the PC and used the Panasonic SD formatter (google it) and did a FULL format and now it works a treat. All my apps still work and photos are back..

  • Nichelle

    Thanks so much for this website. I did not have another Android phone or WinOS phone to attempt to read my damaged sd card from my Android LG Ally phone. The computer could not read the sd card in the Android. After trying to use alcohol on the tabs, I moved the sd card to my Samsung camera and plugged it into the computer. The Intelli-studio software was able to transfer the pictures and now I can format the disk. Lesson learned, always back up your data.

  • cesi

    so when i right click it should i back it up first or should i click check for errors before?
    i dont wanna risk clicking check for errors and then lose everything???
    help ;(

    • techcredo

      You can make a backup of the SD card first if you want, but the order shouldn’t matter.

      • abhishek

        ur trick really rocks dude i hav gt the trick to recover pen drive data and pc that too only deleted by using recuva software but memory card i was unaware, i also know how to repair damaged hdd ie via freezing and shaking it, so nice of u …. thanx fr help genius…

      • Sigg3

        Always backup first!

        Disk check (on vfat/fat32) system may remove files that you may want to salvage.

  • Aman

    I lost my data.

  • Ayush

    Thanks it realy helps my gaxaly s2 is showing that my 16gb sdcard is damaged, but now i have fixed it by this help without doing a format.

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  • Sarah

    Thank you so much.. i was freaking out that i lost all my pictures and videos. i hav a 7 month old baby and hav everything on my phone.. im glad there r smart ppl out there in the world lik u that r willing to help ppl for free.. if id prolly tak it to the verizon store they prolly tell me theyd hook me up to a machine n charge me.. thank you!