Memory card not working: how to recover it

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Coming across a memory card that doesn’t work is quite common – especially since this is a very popular drive, especially in smartphones and digital cameras.

This can happen for various reasons: for example, when the memory card is corrupted, damaged or cannot be read by the system for some other reason.

Because it usually contains data such as photos and videos – in addition to the traditional documents and applications – it’s normal to get desperate when the memory card doesn’t work.

However, as we’ll see in this artcile, there is no need to panic: it’s entirely possible to get the card working again or – if not – to recover what really matters: the stored data.

We will also look at what might have caused the problem and how to prevent it from happening again, simply by taking some basic precautions.

Why isn’t the memory card showing up?

There are several reasons why the memory card isn’t working or isn’t showing up on your device.

Here are some of them:

Bad contact between memory card and computer

Memory cards communicate with compatible devices using a series of metal pads – with each pad serving a different purpose.

Over time, these connections can wear out and cause various connectivity problems.

Bad contact can also be caused by faults in the memory card reader or the input of your device/PC.

The drive letter on your memory card is missing

Drive letters are alphabetical identifiers for all the drives in your computer – such as internal hard disks, optical drives, memory cards and external USB drives.

So if a disk loses its drive letter, it can’t directly access the files saved on it and all the programs that depend on it won’t be able to run properly.

So if your memory card doesn’t have a letter assigned to it, it won’t work on your PC.

Normally, Windows assigns drive letters automatically to each drive it detects, but – if your memory card hasn’t been assigned one automatically – you can do this manually using the “Disk Manager”.

The memory card’s file system is not recognized or is corrupted

In some cases, the memory card may not be working because it is not recognized by the device or is corrupted.

This can occur due to bad sectors, as a result of improper or abrupt ejection, because the drive has become RAW, among others.

The device driver is out of date

When the driver for your device or PC is out of date, the system doesn’t have the resources it needs to read your drive, making it look like your memory card isn’t working.

Therefore, check that your device/computer driver is up to date and, if not, update it.

The memory card is infected with a virus

Sometimes viruses or malware infections can cause your files on the memory card to be hidden, making you think that the card is undetectable on your phone or PC.

What to do when the memory card doesn’t want to work?

There are many possible fixes to get a non-functioning memory card working properly again – and you need to choose the one that best suits your particular situation.

Check out some of them below:

Insert your memory card correctly

The first thing to do to fix memory card errors is to reinsert the card correctly.

To do this, turn off your camera or smartphone, remove the memory card and then carefully insert the card back into the device.

In the case of a PC, correctly eject the drive, remove, clean and re-insert it. If you’re using a card reader, it’s also worth trying another one.

If your memory card still shows errors, move on to the next method.

Connect your memory card to another device or computer

Sometimes memory cards can show errors due to compatibility problems.

So, in these cases, you need to check whether the memory card has a compatibility problem with the device or not.

To check whether this is the case, connect your memory card to another computer or any other device.

In this case, if your memory card has compatibility problems, you will need to replace it to fix the problem – or use the devices on which your card does not have compatibility problems.

But if your memory card is still not working after applying this method, try fixing the error using the alternative below.

Fix the memory card error using the CHKDSK function

If there is an internal error, your system may not be able to detect the memory card. In this case, try the following steps to use the CHKDSK function to solve this problem:

  • Click on “This PC” or “My Computer” and follow the path “Manager” > “Disk Manager”;
  • Now locate your memory card in the drive viewer and check that your system can detect it
  • Press the “Win” button plus “R” and type cmd – pressing “Enter” afterwards;
  • Now type chkdsk D: / f and finish the process by pressing “Enter”.

Format the memory card

If none of the above methods work, we recommend formatting your memory card.

It is worth noting that formatting the card will lead to data loss, so if you don’t have a backup, recover it using a professional recovery service.

That said, connect the memory card to your PC and follow these steps:

  • Open “This PC/My Computer” and locate the memory card;
  • Right-click on the memory card and select “Format”;
  • Set the file system to FAT32;
  • Check the box marked “Quick Format” and start the memory card formatting process by clicking “Start”;
  • Once the process is complete, disconnect the memory card from your system and insert it into your smartphone to check that the problem has been resolved.

How to avoid memory card errors?

A memory card that doesn’t work undoubtedly causes a lot of discomfort – which is why we believe you should do everything you can to prevent this from happening.

That’s why we’ve put together some tips below that you should use to avoid memory card errors.

Do not remove the memory card from the camera or smartphone while capturing or viewing photos

One of the easiest – but most overlooked – ways to avoid memory card problems is to simply avoid removing it while capturing or viewing photos.

After all, when you forget and remove the card while the camera is still performing any of these actions, the process is abruptly interrupted, causing the unit to “burn”.

Eject a memory card correctly before removing it from any device

One of the most important things you should avoid is improperly removing the memory card from your device.

When you don’t, the card slot can be damaged and, as a result, when you insert it again, you may encounter unexpected errors on the memory card.

Therefore, eject the card safely. Also, only remove it after turning off the device.

Do not capture or perform any action on the camera if the battery is low

Don’t use any device when the battery is low, as this can affect the data on the memory card and also cause corruption problems.

After all, if the device’s battery is low, there is more chance of corruption of the data saved on the memory card.

Use reliable memory card brands

The quality of the memory cards is also essential to prevent malfunctions.

After all, if the card is made by an unknown and unreliable manufacturer, it can be much more susceptible to damage.

Therefore, you should only trust memory cards from reputable brands.

Back up your memory card data regularly

One of the best ways to avoid data loss from your memory card – although it doesn’t prevent errors – is to make regular backups of the files you have stored.

You can make backups in the cloud or on another external disk (such as USB flash drives, hard drives or other flash drives).


Despite their versatility and practicality, memory cards can sometimes malfunction.

For example, when there is poor contact, the drive is not assigned a letter, the file system is not recognized or it is corrupted.

The memory card may also not work if the device driver is out of date or the drive is infected with a virus or malware.

If your memory card isn’t working, there are a few solutions you can use.

These include removing and re-inserting your card, connecting it to another device/PC, running the CHKDSK function or, if none of these work, formatting it – which will cause the stored data to be lost.

Even if your memory card stops working without warning, you can take some steps to avoid any problems as much as possible.

Some good practices in this regard are not to remove the memory card from your device while capturing/viewing photos and to eject it correctly from the PC.

It is also advisable to avoid capturing or running your device (camera/smartphone, etc.) if the battery is low.

Finally, prefer to buy and use cards from recognized brands and maintain a routine of regular backups of your data.

If you’ve taken all the necessary precautions and your card has still stopped working and you’ve lost access to your data, don’t worry: we at Bot can help!

After all, we are pioneers in recovering data from memory cards, regardless of make, model or file system.

It doesn’t matter if your card has been burnt, corrupted or has had files deleted, is asking to be formatted, has suffered a firmware failure or has been attacked by a virus, we can recover your data.

As well as being the benchmark when it comes to recovering data from memory cards, we also care about your urgency to get your files, videos, photos and documents back.

That’s why we recover your data quickly and analyze your device within 24 to 48 hours!

Become one of our 100,000 success stories: start your recovery with us now!


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