[2023 Updated] Unable to Format SD Card? Top 6Ways to Quick Fix

By Andy Samuel to Partition Manager | 2023-10-08

Formatting is often the quickest and surest way to get rid of the majority of SD card problems. But a common problem most SD card users report is that they can’t format SD card. When faced with this issue, it may seem like the last hope for your bad SD card is gone. Despair not because we’ll go through reasons why you may be facing the SD card won’t format problem and some possible solutions to restore your memory card to full health.

Part 1: Why Won't My SD Card Format?

Before we present possible solutions to help you fix your SD card wont format issues, I’m sure you’d have asked yourself why can’t I format my SD card? So, let’s go through the possible reasons why you may be facing that issue in the first place.

Write Protection is Turned On: The reason you can't format your SD card might be because it's write-protected. This means your SD card won't let Windows read it or make any changes to it. Hence, you are unable to format an SD card.

  • Bad Sectors: Another possible reason could presence of bad sectors on the SD card, causing it to become inactive and corrupted. In such cases, Windows won't be able to format a corrupted SD card.
  • System File Errors: system file errors are one more possible reason for SD card corruption. Windows is unable to work with a corrupted SD card properly, so you’ll be unable to format the card.
  • Virus Infection: believe it or not, a virus or malware activity can render your SD card unformattable. If you've used your SD card with different devices or card readers that are unclean, it could have picked up unwanted viruses. As a result, Windows might refuse to format your SD card.

Those are the 4 general reasons why you may be unable to format your SD card on Windows 10. Let’s now go through their possible solution together.

Part 2. How to Fix SD Card Won't Format Error on Windows 11/10/8/7?

Now's the time to learn how to solve the SD card won’t format problem. We have provided 4 proven solutions below, including our recommended choice of action right at the beginning.

Method 1:[Easiest & Safest] Format SD card via Third-party SD Card Formatter -- PassFab 4EasyPartition - Recommended

The easiest and safest way to format a stubborn SD card is to use the third-party SD card formatter called PassFab 4EasyPartition. The professional tool will ensure the right issues affecting your memory card are fixed during the process of formatting.

Follow the simple steps below to learn how to format SD card on Windows 10 without the hassle.

  • Insert the SD card into the reader and slot it into the card reader slot on your device. You may also use the USB ports for the connection where possible.

  • Locate the unformatted SD card on the PassFab 4EasyPartition dashboard and click "Format”.

  • In the window that appears, you can change the SD card drive letter, and adjust the file system and cluster size as needed. However, selecting the default options is mostly recommended.

    format partition
  • Click "OK" to confirm the risky format operation, then check and click "OK" to execute the task.

    check the task
  • Note:

    remember all data on the SD card will be erased after formatting.

Method 2: Format SD Card in Windows via Disk Management

If you can't format your SD card using Windows File Explorer, you may need a more advanced disk formatting tool. Follow the steps below to format your SD card using Window's built-in Disk Management.

Step 1: Open Disk Management by right-clicking the Start menu and locating the option.

Format SD Card in Windows Disk Management

Step 2: Right-click the damaged SD card from the panel and select "Format."

Fix SD card won't format

Step 3: Select an appropriate file system from the options such as FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT, and check the "Perform a quick format" box. Afterward, click "OK."


Hint: You can always select the default file system if you’re not sure.

Method 3: Run Diskpart to Reformat the SD Card That Won't Format

Diskpart is another built-in Windows function that enables you to perfect advanced operations on disk and removable drives. Follow the steps below to format your SD card using Diskpart.

Step 1: Press both the Windows key and the R key simultaneously to bring out the Run box, then type "cmd", and press Enter to open the command prompt (cmd.exe).

Step 2: Type “diskpart” and then hit the Enter button to run the Diskpart Utility.

 Run Diskpart to Reformat the SD Card Won't Format

Step 3: Type “list disk” and press Enter to reveal all drives connected to the computer.

Unable to Format SD Card list disk

Step 4: Type “select disk #” (where # is the exact number listed with your SD card) and press Enter to specifically select your SD card.

why can't i format my sd card select disk 1

Step 5: Type “clean” and press Enter to initiate the clean utility.

how to format sd card on windows 10 type clean

Hint: Please be aware that this operation will delete all data on the SD card, so make sure to have a copy or backup of the card's data.

Step 6: Type "create partition primary" and press Enter to generate a new partition on the SD card.

how to format sd card on windows 10 type clean

Step 7: Type "format fs=fat32" (or "format fs=ntfs") to format the partition with the preferred file system.

can't format sd card format fs=fat32

Under the hood, 4EasyPartition does a similar function as Diskpart, only with a more intuitive and user-friendly dashboard. This makes the tool suitable for users with limited computer knowledge to resolve SD card formatting issues effortlessly

Method 4: Change the Drive Letter and Paths to Find the SD Card that Won't Format

Sometimes you can’t format the SD card because it isn’t showing up on your computer at all. Hence, our first point of action will be to make the SD card recognizable again, and then try to format it using any one of the methods discussed above.

Step 1: Connect unable to format SD card to PC.

Step 2: Right-click on the Start Menu to Open Disk Management.

Step 3: Right-click on the faulty SD card and select "Change drive letter or path”.

select Change drive letter or path

Step 4: Choose a new drive letter for your SD card and click “OK” to confirm.

Change the Drive Letter and Paths

Method 5: Check and Repair Bad Sectors

Bad sectors are physical flaws on the storage device that can lead to data problems and formatting challenges. You can address this issue by checking and repairing these bad sectors, which will enable you to format the SD card successfully. Here's how to resolve the "Windows unable to format SD card" problem by fixing bad sectors.

Step 1: Press the Windows key and the letter R together to open the Run dialog, then type "cmd" and press Enter to open the command prompt.

Step 2: Enter the command: chkdsk [#]: /f /r /x in the Command Prompt, replacing [#] with the actual drive letter of your SD card as shown in File Explorer.

Change the Drive Letter and Paths

Method 6: SD Card Won't Format when it's Write-Protected

Write-Protected  SD Card Won't Format

You won't be able to format it if the SD card is write-protected. To proceed, you must remove the write protection using the following methods.

Step 1: Disable the "write-protect" mode on your SD card manually by flipping the switch as shown above.

Disable write-protect mode

Step 2: Try using a different USB card reader if your current one doesn't recognize your SD card.

Step 3: If your connected computer is controlled by third-party software designed to restrict unauthorized actions, you will need to request permission.

Part 3. Bonus Tip: Golden Rules for Preventing SD Card Errors and Safeguarding Your SD Card

Follow the tips below to ensure your memory card is safe from the dreaded can’t format SD card issue.

Tips for SD Card ProtectionDescription
Use a reliable card reader.Invest in a compatible, high-quality card reader to prevent data corruption.
Handle your SD card with care.Avoid bending, dropping, or exposing it to extreme temperatures. Store it in a protective case.
Back up your SD card data regularly.Create backups of important files on another storage device to prevent data loss.
Safely eject your SD card.Always use the proper procedure to eject your SD card and prevent data loss or corruption.
Keep your SD card virus-freeRegularly scan your SD card with reputable antivirus software to remove malware.
Format your SD card correctly.Follow the recommended formatting methods for your device and file system to avoid compatibility issues.
Avoid overfilling your SD card.Leave enough space for optimal performance and reduce the risk of data corruption.
Check SD card health.Regularly assess your SD card's health using appropriate diagnostic tools or software.

Part 4. FAQS about SD Card Won't Format 

Your common questions on why can’t I format my SD Card are answered below.

Q1: How to fix the SD card that won’t format to FAT32?

The main reason is that your SD card has a larger capacity that goes beyond the FAT32 file system format limit of 32GB on Windows. Similar to USB drives, SD cards with storage sizes of 32GB or less are typically formatted as FAT32 by default.

Q2: How to Fix the RAW SD Card Won't Format?

Access Disk Management and identify the RAW storage device you wish to format, whether it's an SD memory card, a hard disk, or a USB flash drive. Locate your device within the list of volumes, right-click on it, and opt for the format option. Choose the NTFS file system and confirm by clicking OK.

Q3: Why won’t my camera format SD card?

Your SD card may not be in the camera properly or could be damaged. First, try putting it back into the camera slot correctly. If you still can't format it in the camera, try using a computer. Connect the SD card from the camera to your computer.

Q4: How to fix if an SD card can't format on Mac?

  • Open Disk Utility from Finder > Applications > Utilities.
  • Connect your SD card to your Mac.
  • Click "View" and then select "Show All Devices" in Disk Utility.
  • Choose your SD card from the list of devices on the left.
  • Click on "First Aid."
  • Select "Run" to begin the process of checking and repairing the SD card.

Final Words

It can be frustrating when your SD card won’t format. We've shared some solutions including third-party PassFab 4EasyPartition for when your little SD card refuses to format. Hopefully, these tips help you understand and solve the problem on your own. If they do, you can also share them with friends who might be dealing with the same issue.