How to Recover Files from an Unreadable SD Card?


SD cards are used in various devices such as mobile phones, camera, etc. These SD cards come with ample storage space and let the users store a lot of data in them.

However, sometimes, these SD cards get corrupted and become unreadable due to various reasons. If the SD card becomes unreadable or corrupt, files in SD card may get lost, so it is important to recover files from SD card either by manual approach or by software approach i.e. using professional data recovery software but before heading towards recovery process what are the common issues which you may experience on your unreadable SD card:

  • SD card becomes RAW
  • SD card lost partition
  • SD card shows as No Media in Disk management
  • SD card shows fail to show up or can’t be detected by PC

To solve such issues, follow the solutions mentioned in this post.

How to recover files from an unreadable SD card?

In case the files on the SD card are unreadable, try copying them on another storage media and check if you’re able to open them. If it worked, then format the SD card and start using it again.

However, if the problem persists and you are not able to recover deleted files, follow the below mentioned solutions:

Scenario 1: SD card shows up in Disk Management but inaccessible 

Solution: Run CHKDSK Command

Running the CHKDSK command solves issues when the SD card becomes RAW, there is an unsupported file system, or the access is denied. Follow the below mentioned steps to run the CHKDSK command:

Step 1: Connect the SD card to PC via an SD card reader.

Step 2: Type cmd in the search bar and hit Enter to open Command Prompt.

Step 3: Enter your administrator account and password if necessary.

Step 4: Type: chkdsk /X /f sd card letter: or chkdsk sd card letter: /f, for example “chkdsk /X /f G:” or “chkdsk h: /f”.

Scenario 2: Unreadable SD card shows as No Media in Disk Management 

Solution: Update the Drivers

If the SD card shows as No Media in Disk Management, it indicates a problem with the disk driver. You can update the driver to resolve the issue. Follow the below mentioned steps:

Step 1: Connect the unreadable SD card to PC and right-click on This PC, followed by selecting Manage, and then go to Device Manager.

Step 2: Expand Disk drivers, find and right-click on the 0 bytes hard drive, which displays as no media, and choose “Update driver”.

Step 3: Select “Search automatically for updated driver software” and wait till the process completes.

Now, restart the PC.

Scenario 3: Unreadable SD card can’t be detected by Device Manager, Disk Management, or File Explorer 

Solution: Change the Connector

When the unreadable SD card could not be detected by Device Manager, Disk Management, or the File Explorer, then change the card reader, adapter or the USB port.

What to do if nothing works?

If none of the above mentioned solutions works, the only option is to use a third-party data recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery for Windows to recover data from the SD card. The software can recover all types of files from any kind of storage media. You just need to download the software from the official website of Stellar and follow the below mentioned steps to recover data from the unreadable SD card:

  • Select: Select the type of files which you want to recover and the location (the unreadable SD card) from where you want to recover the files.
  • Scan: Toggle Deep Scan and click on the Scan button. The software then starts searching for recoverable files.
  • Restore: Preview all the files from the list of the recoverable files. Select the files which you want to recover and click on the Restore button. Finish the process by selecting a new location to save the recovered files and click on the Save button.

Tips to Prevent Data Loss from SD Card

When it comes to handling a SD card or any storage media for that matter, here are some tips which can come in handy:

  • Protect the SD card from any kind of physical damage.
  • Always keep a data backup.
  • Do not try to overwrite on an unreadable SD card.
  • Do not format an unreadable SD card, if there is data stored on it.


If your SD card becomes unreadable, you can try fixing the issue by following the above mentioned solutions. However, if the issue is not resolved, the only option is to recover the data from the SD card. For data recovery, use a trusted and reliable data recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery for Windows.