How to Fix Can't Format SD Card Error?

🕔 5 minutes read

Formatting an SD card becomes important in many cases like SD card corruption, changing a file system, etc. But what if your SD card shows unable to format SD card error? In this article, find out why your SD card shows a can’t format error and how to fix it for free. Moreover, if you are looking for reliable software to recover your SD card data, use Remo Recover. It is a user-friendly tool to restore more than 500 file formats. Such as photos, raw images, videos, and other files.

When you encounter 'unable to format SD card' error on a Windows computer, android phone, or digital camera, it can be frustrating and challenging to determine the underlying cause. This error prevents your external SD card from formatting, regardless of how often you try to format it, and it remains unformatted on your respective device.

With deeper research, can’t format SD card error is more prevalent in Sandisk Ultra 64GB SD cards. This error often occurs when the SD card is damaged or corrupted, making it difficult to format the card and rendering it unusable. We have updated this article to provide information even for Sandisk SD card users who may be experiencing can't format SD card error, particularly with the Sandisk Ultra 64GB SD card. 

Here is a comprehensive guide on fixing the error Can’t format SD card for free and a proven method to restore data using the SD card recovery software safely.

Why Can’t I Format My SD card?

Unable to format an SD card is not specific to your Windows computer, but it can also be on other devices like Android smartphones, digital cameras (including DSLR), GoPro cameras, etc. Some of the most common reasons for this error are as follows:

A) SD card is write protected

If your SD card is write-protected, you cannot format it. To fix this issue, you need to disable write protection by moving the slider of the SD card toward unlock position. 

B) SD card is severely damaged

When you format an SD card, it means mounting a new file system that tracks the storage on your SD card. Any damage to the SD card file system or Bad sectors is another common reason for being unable to format an SD card. This issue could be due to improper SD card ejection, virus attack, or power outage, making the SD card difficult or impossible to format.

If the error is due to SD card corruption, your priority must be performing SD card data recovery before fixing the issue to avoid data loss scenarios. 

Restore Data from SD card Showing Unable to Format 

It is disheartening to lose access to your important photos and videos due to can’t format SD card error. In such cases, use Remo Recover, an advanced data recovery software that works with deep scan algorithms to restore 500-plus file formats. This software works with Deep Scan algorithms to recover data safely from severely corrupted, formatted, or unreadable micro SD cards, SDHC, or SDXC cards. Try this software and preview your recovered files for free!

Steps to Recover Data from SD Card showing Cannot format Error

1. Download and install Remo Recover and click on the SD card showing can’t format error and hit the Scan button
Note – If your SD card is not detected, click on the Can’t find the drive to locate your corrupt SD card

Choose the memory card drive to restore all your files
2. The tool will initiate Quick Scan automatically, followed by Deep Scan. You can click on Dynamic Recovery View to find the files being restored during the scanning process.
3. Once the scanning is completed, go to the Lost Partition folder, select the files you wish to recover from the SD card showing can’t format error, and hit Recover
preview and save camera restore photos

Methods to fix SD Card Cannot format Error on Windows 11/10/8/7

As previously mentioned, two main reasons for this error are write-protected SD cards and Severely damaged SD cards. The following are instructions on how to fix this error.

A) Unlock the Micro SD Card

A micro SD card is locked is one of the terminologies used for a write-protected SD Card. As discussed earlier, when a micro SD card is locked or write-protected, you cannot make any changes since it works in read-only mode. You can disable the write protection on the SD card to fix the error.

An SD card can be severely damaged due to

The best method to fix an SD card that won’t format is by force formatting the SD card using CMD.

B) How to Force Format an SD Card?

As you know, formatting an SD card erases all your data. Make sure you take a backup or restore photos from SanDisk SD card to a safe location to avoid data loss, and then follow the below command to force format an SD card.

Open Command Prompt by right-clicking Start > Command Prompt (Admin) or search cmd from Start.

  • Type: diskpart to bring up DiskPart utility.

Click on diskpart to fix cant format SD Card

  • Type: list disk and hit Enter
  • Type: select disk 1 and hit Enter (Replace 1 with the drive number of your SD card)

Type list disk to fix cant format SD Card

  • Type: clean and hit Enter

Type clean to fix cant format SD Card

  • Type: create partition primary and hit Enter
  • Type: select disk 1 and hit Enter (Replace 1 with the drive number of SD card)

Type create partition primary to fix cant format SD Card

  • Type: active to make the SD card partition activate
  • Type: format fs = NTFS or format fs = fat32 and hit Enter

Type format fs=ntfs to fix cant format SD Card

  • Type: assign letter = F
  • After this, type exit to finish the process.

After forcefully formatting the SD card, you need to fix the bad sectors using the CHKDSK tool.

C) CHKDSK Format SD card

CHKDSK is one of the most prominent utilities on Windows that will help you fix all the bad sectors that exist on your SD card. The following are the instructions on how to do it.

  • Right-click on Start to select Command Prompt (Admin) or click Start and type: cmd > click exe to bring up Command Prompt.
  • Sign in as an administrator and type: chkdsk E: /f /r and hit Enter; (Replace E: with the drive letter of your SanDisk SD card).
  • Wait for the process to complete (Process time might vary based on the size of the SD card).
  • Exit CMD and enter Disk Management tool, find the SD card, right-click on it, and select Format volume.
  • Reset the file system and drive letter of the SD card, and click OK to confirm the format action.

Both the aforementioned methods can be used on all brands of SD cards, such as SanDisk, Sony, Kingston, Transcend, etc. It also works on all formats of SD cards, such as Micro SD, SD, SDHC, and SDXC.


Hopefully, using the above methods, you might have fixed unable to format error on your SD card. Make sure you take a regular of your SD card data to avoid any data loss due to uncertain errors. Finally, if you cannot fix the error, it means that your SD card is unfixable. If your SD card is still under warranty, better contact the brand, and claim to exchange the memory card. But don’t forget to recover your data from the SD card using reliable data recovery software before exchanging it.

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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