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How to Unformat SD Card and Recover Data

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jun 14, 2024 • Filed to: SD Card Solutions • Proven solutions

Is it possible to unformat an SD card?
I got my SD card which is used in my digital camera. I connected to the computer and transferred all my photos and videos on the card. The PC's SD memory card is recognized, but it shows the message 'SD card is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?'. I did format it, but all my files on the SD card are gone. I need my photos and videos back. How can I unformat a memory card? Thanks.

Yes. You can unformat your SD card with a data recovery tool. The first thing you need to do is do not save any new data on it or get your format data to be overwritten. How to retrieve data from a formatted SD card? In the following guide, we will show you the best SD memory card recovery software to help you unformat the SD card and get your data back.

Overview of Formatted SD Memory Card:

When you get a new SD memory card, the first thing it will advise you to format the card. The common SD card error asks you to format the SD card while using the digital camera connecting it to the computer. It shows the message 'SD card is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?'.
Does formatting an SD card delete its data files? Actually No. You won't be able to access those files like photos, videos on your SD memory card. All data on the card may still get back by using Data Recovery Software. Also, the main thing you should properly format your SD card. Learn how to format a Micro SD card on a Windows computer.

Unformat SD Card on Windows/Mac Using Recoverit

To unformat data from the SD card, we recommend Recoverit Data Recovery Software. It is a reliable SD card recovery program. It supports recovering formatted data from any type of SD cards like Micro SD card, memory card, CF card, TF card, SDHC card, and others.

Video Tutorial on How to Recover Lost Files from SD Card?

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Download and install Recoverit SD Card Recovery software on your computer. This guide will show you how to recover data from the formatted SD card on a Windows computer.

Note: If you are using a Mac, you can download Recoverit Mac Data Recovery and follow the guide on recovering formatted SD card data on Mac.

Step 1. Select the Formatted Memory Card

Connect your formatted SD memory card to the computer, select the SD card, and click the "Start" button to scan.

select location

Step 2. Scanning your Formatted Memory Card

Recoverit SD Card Data Recovery will start to scan the formatted SD memory card. After the first scan, if you cannot get your data files, you need to scan again with the "All-Around Recovery" mode. It will search for more files from the formatted SD card.

scanning formatted memory card

Step 3. Preview and Recover Data from SD Card

Once the scan is completed, you can preview all the recoverable files. Select the files and click "Recover" to recover data from the formatted memory card.

scanning formatted memory card

Note: Please do not save the recovered data files on the formatted SD memory card, or it will cause data loss and overwritten. It would help if you kept them in your computer hard drive or another storage device.

To unformat your SD card, you can get your data files back first. Recoverit SD Card Data Recovery is the best choice for you, and it can help you retrieve data from formatted memory cards easily. Download and try it for now.

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Why SD card is unmountable and how to recover deleted data from an unmountable SD card?

Unformat SD Card on Windows for Free Using CMD

If you prefer not to install new software on your computer, you can still utilize built-in tools to unformat the SD card on Windows. Below are the specific steps for unformatting the SD card on Windows using CMD:

  1. Connect the formatted SD card to your computer and ensure successful recognition.
  2. Launch the Run box by pressing Win+R. Enter CMD and click OK to open Command Prompt.
  3. In the Command Prompt window, type the command: chkdsk *: /f and press Enter. Replace * with the drive letter of the formatted SD card.
  4. Then, enter the following commands one by one, pressing Enter after each:
    - Y
    - *(the drive letter of the formatted SD card)
    - F:\>attrib -h -r -s /s /d *.*

unformat sd card using cmd

If CMD successfully unformats the SD card, it will recover all the lost data and save them in a new folder on the SD card.

Unformat SD Card on Mac for Free Using PhotoRec

PhotoRec is the top choice for free SD card unformatting on Mac. It is an open-source data recovery program that can be utilized to retrieve lost data from a formatted SD card.

  1. Insert the formatted SD card into your Mac.
  2. Open and run PhotoRec on your computer, following the prompts to enter the password.
  3. Choose the formatted SD card from the disk list and press Return.

photorec mac select disk list

  1. Select the Partition and press Return to proceed.

photorec mac select partition

  1. Choose the file system and press Return.
  2. Then, select a destination to save the recovered files and press the C key to initiate the recovery process.

photorec mac select file system

Bonus Tip: How to Reformat your SD Card?

If the SD card doens't work well after being unformatted, you may still want to reformat it. It is possible. Here we will show you the most effective ways to reformat SD card on Windows, Mac, and Android phone after unformatting the SD card. For more information, read the full guide on formatting SD card to FAT32 we prepared for you.

Method 1. Reformat SD Card on Windows Using File Explorer

One of the most effective ways to format your SD Card is to use File Explorer. The process can be completed simply on this way:

  1. Connect the SD card to your computer via the SD card slot or an external reader.
  2. Open Windows File Explorer and go to “This PC”.
  3. Locate the SD card and right-click it. Select Format.
  4. In the pop-up windows, click the File system dropdown arrow and select the Format as you need. If you only use the card on Windows systems, you can choose NTFS. If you will use it on different types of devices, then, choose FAT32.

file explorer reformat sd card

Method 2. Reformat SD Card on Windows Using Disk Management

Another effective way to reformat the unformatted sd card on Windows is by Disk Management. Just follow this way:

  1. Right click the Start icon and choose Disk Management.
  2. Select the SD card from the list of drives or partitions.
  3. Right-click the SD card -> Format.
  4. Select a file system from the dropdown, and confirm the allocation unit size.
  5. Check the “Perform a quick format” box, then click OK.

reformat sd card with disk management

  1. After that, one warning pop-up will appear. Press OK again to get the formatting process started.

Method 3. Reformat SD Card on Mac Using Disk Utility

With the Disk Utility tool on Mac, it is super easy to reformat SD card on Mac. Follow this way:

  1. Open Disk Utility.
  2. Click the SD card in the external section and click Erase.

reformat sd card on mac

  1. Click the Format dropdown and select one file system. You can select MS-DOS(FAT), which works the same as the FAT32 option on Windows.

reformat sd card on mac 1

  1. Click Erase, then it will start to format the SD card.

Method 4. Reformat SD Card on Android

There are still Android phones working with external microSD card. And it is also supported to reformat the SD card on the phone. Though you can’t choose a specific file system in this case, you can backup the files before starting the reformat process.

  1. Go to Settings ->Device care.
  2. Tap Storage->Advanced.
  3. Find and select the SD card under the Portable storage.
  4. Tap Format->Fomrat SD card.


Unformatting SD card can be a little challenging since there is no native option to achieve that. But you can try to recover lost data from SD card using the Recoverit sd card recovery tool.

Recoverit author

Eleanor Reed

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