How to Recover Photos from Corrupted SD card?


SD cards are widely used in phones and digital cameras as storage media to store videos, music, photos as well as other file types. They are popular, thanks to its small size, lightweight, and large capacity. However, it is also prone to corrupt or damage which may result in inaccessibility of the files on it. Today we will focus on the symptoms, reasons for corrupted SD card and the solutions to fix a corrupted SD card without losing data.

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Symptoms of SD card corruption

If you have met one of the following situations, it’s safe to say that your SD card is corrupted. It is the same with other external devices.

  • The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable
  • Disk needs to be formatted
  • You need to format the disk in drive X: before you can use it
  • Not recognized or showing up while plugging into PC
  • 0 bytes used space, 0 bytes of free space, etc.

Reasons for SD card Corruption

When we talk about SD card corruption, we should know that there are two ways: corruption in software level which is fixable, and corruption in hardware level that you have to send it to local reparation service or replace it with a new one. So, we’re talking about the first.

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Many reasons can lead to SD card corruption. Here is a short list which includes the common reasons.

  1. File table corruption.
  2. Reset the external hard drive which causes data loss.
  3. Accidental deletion of some system files which makes external hard drive unreadable by computer.
  4. Unplug external hard drive from the computer without ejecting or safe remove.
  5. External hard drive not recognized, or not detected by the computer for an unknown reason.
  6. Virus infection.

Possible Solutions to Try Out First

Before starting to recover photos, some basic checks are necessary.

  1. Connect the SD card to a different USB port on your computer to check if it’s the USB port’s issue.
  2. Insert the SD card to a different card reader to check if it’s the card reader’s issue.
  3. Plug the SD card with a card reader to a different computer to check if it’s the operating system or driver’s issue.
  4. Make sure the file system of the SD card is recognized by the operating system in read-write mode. For example, Windows PC works with NTFS, FAT32, exFAT file systems, while Mac supports APFS, HFS+, HFS, exFAT, FAT32.

Recovering photos from corrupted SD card

It’s horrible that the photos of family reunion, vocations and kids stored on the SD card are inaccessible due to the SD card corruption. But don’t throw the corrupted SD card away as it’s possible to recover the photos with data recovery software. In this tutorial, we opt for iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows, a free data recovery program which is fast and easy to use.

Not only it supports recovering of photos from corrupted SD cards, but also supports recovering videos, documents, emails, music files from external hard drives, USB drives, memory cards, Pen drives, CF cards, and other external storage media.

Key features of iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows:

  • Recover deleted, lost videos, music, audio, images, documents, etc.
  • Recover data from formatted, corrupted, RAW drives.
  • Recover deleted, lost partition.
  • Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 and Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016
  • Supported file systems: FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT.

Recovery Steps

  1. Plug the corrupted SD card into your computer.
  2. Download & install iBoysoft Data Recovery on your Windows computer.
  3. Launch the program.
  4. Select the SD card.
  5. Click “Next”. The program will start scanning for the photos.
    iBoySoft Data Recovery - Scan
    iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows supports two scan options: Quick Scan and Deep Scan. The Quick Scan is fast while the Deep Scan is able to find out more files. You can adjust the scan modes manually, but in order to get back as many photos as possible, it is highly recommended to use the default settings.
  6. This program allows you to preview the search results. Just double click on the file to preview in the window.
    iBoySoft Data Recovery - Deleted Files
  7. Choose the photos you want to get back, then click on Recover button. Wait until the recovery process done.

Additional Tips

  1. Stop using the SD card once you found it corrupted. That’s because your operation will inevitably write new data to it which will overwrite the original data – mainly your photos. As long as the data has been overwritten, you can’t recover it with any photo recovery tools.
  2. Restore the recovered photos to a different location, such as another drive, USB, external HDD, etc.
  3. No data recovery software can promise 100% recovery rate. It could be affected by various factors, including the degree of corruption, the time you start to perform data recovery after corruption, as well as whether the data has been overwritten.
  4. Most of those so-called free data recovery software supports recovering a limited size of files. You should read it carefully. iBoysoft Data Recovery for Windows supports recovering within 1 GB files for free.

How to Fix a Corrupted SD card

Method 1: Run Check Disk in Windows Explorer

If the corrupted SD card appears in Windows Explorer, then you can check and fix the drive easily.

  1. Connect the corrupted SD card to PC.  
  2. Right-click on the SD card drive, go to Properties.
  3. Select Tools tab.
    Drive Properties - Windows
  4. Click on Check button.

It will last for a few minutes if it’s able to fix the corrupted SD card.

Method 2: Run CHKDSK command

  1. Type “cmd” in the search bar from the Start, find the Command Prompt application and right-click on it. Choose Run as Administrator.
  2. Type in “chkdsk /r *:” in the window and press Enter. Replace * with the drive letter of the SD card.
    chkdsk Windows Command
  3. After the process completes, type in “reboot” to restart your computer.

Also read: Different ways to run Check Disk on Windows.

Method 3: Allocate a new drive letter to the SD card

  1. Go to Disk Management.
  2. Find the SD card drive, right-click on it and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  3. Click on Change button.
    Windows Disk Management
  4. From the right column, choose a new drive letter then click OK.

Method 4:  Reinstall the driver

Sometimes, the SD card not working properly is because of the outdated or malfunctioned driver. Follow the steps to reinstall the driver.

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  1. Right-click on the Start icon and select Device Manager.
  2. Double-click on Disk drives.
  3. Select the SD card drive name and right-click on it. Click on Uninstall device and then OK.
    Windows Device Manager
  4. Disconnect the SD card from PC and re-connect it again. Your computer will detect it and install the right driver.

Method 5: Format the SD card

If you’ve tried out all the methods above yet with no luck, you can reformat it. This is the last chance to fix a corrupted SD card.

  1. Go to Disk Management.
  2. Find the SD card drive, right-click on it and choose Format.
    Windows Format Drive
  3. Setup volume label, file system, and allocation unit size then click OK.


Always keep calm when you get in the situations like a corrupted SD card. It’s possible and easy to recover lost data from the corrupted SD card with recovery software like iBoysoft Data Recovery. You can recover the lost data as long as the card is damaged only logically. If it has physical error, ask for help from professional service or just replace it.


  1. I’m really grateful for this article which shares the best information about how to recover photos corrupted sd card.

    I lost my best pics from my last travel & that was a really disappointed matter for me but now I will get recovered my photos corrupted sd card :)


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