2 Steps to Fixing Unallocated SD Card Without Losing Data

How to Fix and Recover Unallocated SD Card

SD card unallocated space can be fixed in two easy steps without losing your data. Get the most from your storage space. Read through our detailed tutorial to find out how.

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Oct 16, 2020 • Filed to: SD Card Solutions • Proven solutions


Ever come across a situation where your SD card suddenly shows that it has unallocated space in Disk Management? An unallocated SD card may stop working on a PC and even fail to show up in File Explorer.

Unallocated space can present quite a conundrum. On the one hand, the SD card may appear to have adequate storage capacity, but when you try to save files on it, you may get a pop-up informing you that the memory is full.

Many users mistakenly assume that part of the memory is completely damaged and unusable, and purchase another card. Nothing could be further from the truth.

An unallocated SD card can be fixed without losing data by following the instructions outlined below.

What is unallocated space on an SD card?

In common terms, you can refer to the unallocated space on your hard drive as the unused space. Free space is also considered unallocated space. Hard drives have two sections, namely free space, and used space. Your files reside in the used-up space of an SD card, whereas the storage location is empty in the unallocated space of the storage.

Thus, you may have a 4 GB SD card of storage memory but only 2GB is allocated for use. The remaining 2GB must be allocated for use or else it can't be used to store files.

So, what happens when you have an unallocated SD card? When you hit This PC icon on your PC, you are unable to view the drive name. This occurs because of the unallocated space on the SD card. Sometimes the entire storage is unallocated for unknown reasons, despite any changes that you make in the control panel and settings of your computer to try to fix it.

This is a massive problem as you cannot write, read, or store any data on the unallocated storage.

Another sign that your SD card has unallocated space is where the storage space is lower than the actual capacity of the memory card. You can tell this by inserting it into a PC, navigating to File Explorer, right-clicking against it, and checking the disk size under properties. If the sum of the used space and free space is less than the capacity, then there is a problem.

You can also view the unallocated space in Windows Disk Management. Type Disk Management in the Windows search bar to find the program. Click to launch. In the list of disks, check to see if your SD card has unallocated space as shown below.

Unallocated SD card in Disk Management

Unallocated space is inaccessible and unusable. Many people ask why the hard drive has an unallocated space. Many reasons can cause this unusual behavior. The major causes which lead to SD card unallocated space, include the following:

It could be any one of these causes or a combination of them that leads to an SD card unallocated problem. The solutions to SD card unallocated space include:

Before you take any action to fix an unallocated SD card, you must first perform a back-up to avoid a situation where you lose all your files. Save all your files to a different location on a computer.

If the memory card became inaccessible while containing data, you can always recover the data first before proceeding to fix the problem of unallocated space.

Step 1. Recover Inaccessible Data from Unallocated SD Card

Data recovery is the first logical step to fixing unallocated space. It ensures you don't lose your data when you attempt the fixes we recommend in the next section.

As mentioned in the foregoing section, deleted files are usually still on the storage and are recoverable using specialized software.

Computers create files using the binary system (a series of ones and zeros). When you save a file, the file system marks all sectors where fragments of the file are saved with a 1. When you delete a file, all sectors containing the file are marked with a 0. Marking sectors with 1's and 0's signals that these areas are available or unavailable for use.

A sector marked with a 0 becomes unallocated space and available for use to store other contents. However, the files are still present since the data is not overwritten. Though they are inaccessible, they are still recoverable.

Begin data recovery by connecting the SD card to the computer. Next, download Wondershare Recoverit software and launch the tool using the shortcut icon on the desktop.

Alternatively, type Wondershare Recoverit in the Windows search bar and click the result to launch the application.

Once the tool is ready, data recovery is a mere three steps as follows.

Step 1: Select a Location

Select your SD card from the External Devices section and click Start to begin.

Select Data Recovery Source

Step 2: Scan the Disk

Wondershare Recoverit scans the storage to find fragments of the lost or deleted data and begins reassembling it. A progress bar shows you what's happening in real-time and you can pause the process at any time.

Recoverit Data Recovery Process

Step 3: Retrieve the Data

Finally, select the files you want to keep and discard. Save the files you want to keep in a different location on the computer.

Preview Recovered Data

After recovering your files, you may proceed and fix the unallocated problem using the methods suggested below.

Step 2. Fix Unallocated SD Card in Different Methods

To overcome this issue, you have to fix the unallocated hard drive to make it active and usable.

When we encounter this issue, what should we do? Here are some workable solutions on how to fix an unallocated SD card.

Method 1: Create a new partition with Disk Management

Before you begin, connect the SD card to your computer.

Open the disk management window on your keyboard by typing Disk Management in the Windows search box and clicking the application.

Next, choose your SD card and select the unallocated space. Right-click and choose New Simple Volume from the expanded list.

New Simple Volume in Disk Management

This will take you to the New Simple Volume Wizard. Click Next to proceed.

New Simple Volume Wizard

To specify the volume size in this window, you must type in the volume size in megabytes. You should enter the values between the minimum and maximum and press the Next button.

Assign Drive Letter in New Simple Volume Wizard

You will need to enter the drive label in the next screen, followed by the formatting procedure. Select a file system and type in the volume label. Tick the Quick Format checkbox to perform a quick format and hit the OK button.

Format New Simple Volume in Disk Management

Finally, complete the partition process by pressing the Finish button.

Complete New Simple Volume in Disk Management

Take note that creating a new partition means you now have two drive locations on your SD card.

If this procedure doesn't work, move on to the next fix below.

Method 2: Format Unallocated SD Card with Diskpart

Connect the SD card to the computer. Launch the Command Prompt by typing CMD in the Windows search bar and click the application.

Next, type Diskpart to start the utility.

Diskpart Utility

After that, type list disk to see the drives connected to your computer.

List Disk in Diskpart

Then, type select disk x where x denotes the drive number of your unallocated SD card.

Select Disk in Diskpart

Next, clean the disk by typing clean.

Clean Disk in Diskpart

Type, create partition primary to create a new partition.

Create Partition Primary in Diskpart

Finally, format by typing format fs=fat32. This instructs the computer to create a new file system using the FAT32 file format.

Format SD Card in Diskpart

After a few minutes, the SD card is formatted, and no longer has unallocated space.

If you still can't fix the issue, then is one more method for you to try.

Method 3: Use a Free Disk Formatting Tool

To fix the unallocated SD card issue, you can try a free disk formatting tool. Many free open-source disk formatting tools come with advanced disk formatting features.

Some good options include HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool and Super Disk Formatter. Below are instructions to fix SD unallocated space using the HP USB tool.

Download the tool. Right-click and run it as an administrator.

Next, select your SD card and click Start. Ignore the warning message by clicking Yes.

Format SD Card with Third-Party Tool

After a few minutes, the tool should display a message confirming successful formatting.

Disk Formatting Tool

To confirm the SD card unallocated problem has been fixed, launch the Disk Management utility.

SD Card Unallocated Fixed

Let's recap the three methods to fix an unallocated SD card issue.

  1. The first method involves creating a new partition on the unallocated space using the Disk Management utility. For a card that shows the entire storage as unallocated, creating a new simple volume makes the entire storage available for use. On a card where a portion of it is unallocated, this method makes the unallocated portion usable and essentially creates two drives on the same disk. This can be a real advantage if you want to separate different types of files or you want to use different drives on different devices, for example, a phone and a camera.
  2. The second method involves using Diskpart to format an unallocated SD card. Diskpart can format the entire storage despite only a portion of it being in use. Normal formatting methods such as File Explorer in Windows cannot format the unallocated portion.
  3. The third method involves using free third-party disk formatting tools such as HP USB or Super Disk Formatter. These tools can format the entire SD card even where only a portion is usable and the rest is unallocated.

With these three methods, you should be able to fix SD card unallocated problems arising from a myriad of issues. To avoid the SD card unallocated problem occurring in the first place, below are a few tips.

How to Prevent Unallocated SD Card

We have already seen the causes of SD card unallocated space. Prevention is a matter of dealing with these causes. Let's examine three tips below.

  1. Format the SD Card: If you use your SD card heavily and frequently delete and save files on it, form a habit of formatting it at least once every 3 months using the Windows Diskpart utility in the Command Prompt. This wipes and cleans the storage, and rewrites the file system. But always remember to back up your files first. And, in the event you lose your files, you can always recover them with Wondershare Recoverit.
  2. Avoid modifying partitions: Accidental modification or deletion of a volume is one cause of unallocated space. Avoid any actions that affect partitions.
  3. Protection against malware: Do not insert your SD card into computers that do not have antivirus protection. Malicious software code is one of the causes of SD unallocated space.

Also, always take good care of your SD card. Use the recommended protocols to eject it from devices and keep it safe from physical damage.

Closing Words

With these instructions, you should be able to fix the unallocated space on your SD card without losing your data. The solutions are well researched and confirmed to work but if you run into any problems retrace your steps and start over.

Recoverit author

Eleanor Reed

staff Editor

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