While MicroSD cards have gotten more robust with the years, they are still prone to developing a myriad of issues. These problems can make your data inaccessible or corrupt your files, losing you important information.

Fortunately, there are many ways of recovering data from MicroSD cards once connected to a Windows 10 (or 11) computer. Here is a guide on how to do so.

💡 Pro tip

Chances of data recovery go down the more you use the storage media. This is because new files can overwrite the locations where your old data might be present, making it harder for the information to be accessed.

This is why it is crucial that you stop using the MicroSD card the moment you run into issues. Take it out of the phone or digital camera and keep it aside. This way, you maximize the chances of getting all of your important data back safe.

💬 Foreword

All the methods demonstrated in this article will focus on recovering data from a MicroSD card with logical issues. Problems stemming from hardware faults and physical damage are unfortunately beyond the scope of this article.

This is because things like corrupted MicroSD cards or wrongly formatted drives can be fixed from the software side, while physically failing memory units require technical assistance. If your MicroSD card has been damaged, we urge you to contact a licensed technician for help.

💁‍♂️ Understanding the Problem: The Difference Between Bad/Damaged/Corrupted MicroSD Cards

There are many reasons why the data of a MicroSD card may not be accessible. The partition table might be corrupted, making the card unreadable. Or it may be formatted wrong, apparently wiping out all data. Then there is the possibility of a physically damaged MicroSD card.

For any logical errors due to data corruption or file system issues, there are multiple methods of fixing the problem, which we will cover in the next section.


Step-by-step MicroSD Card Data Recovery Process

Successfully recovering data from a MicroSD card can be a difficult process. You first need to connect your SD card to your computer, ensure that it is being detected, and then actually work on getting back your data. Here is a step-by-step approach toward achieving this:

Step #1: Make Your MicroSD Card Readable/Mountable/Accessible

The first step toward recovering data from your MicroSD card is to connect it with a computer. If you run into issues at this stage itself, you cannot continue.

Often the problem lies with the card reader. MicroSD card readers built into a laptop are usually reliable, but flimsy external readers can give you trouble. Try using another card reader or using a different USB slot to get it working.

Step #2: Fix the Logical Issues With Your SD Card

Once you can see the volume representing your MicroSD card on your PC, it is time to get started. Now, the way you proceed from here depends on the type of problem you are facing. In case your SD card fails to even display any storage space, you need to fix that first.

Issues like this stem from a damaged or corrupted File table. This is easily solved by formatting the drive, but that also deletes the data. So you need to try a different tack.

◼️ Use the Error-checking tool

The simplest method is to use the error-checking tool. It can detect and fix basic logical errors, which is often all that is wrong with your MicroSD card.

  1. Right-click on the drive of your SD card and select Properties.Drive Properties
  2. Now head to the Tools tab and click on Check. Your SD card will now be scanned for errors. Simple issues will also be automatically repaired.Error Checking

◼️ Assign a new drive letter

A popular fix is to assign the SD card a new drive letter. This forces the PC to mount the drive again, often allowing you to access the files again.

  1. To assign a new drive letter to your MicroSD card, open Disk Management.Disk Management
  2. Right-click on the MicroSD card and select Change Drive Letter and Paths A new window will open, displaying the current drive letter.Change Drive Letter
  3. Select Change.New Drive Letter
  4. In the window that appears, you can select a new drive letter from a drop-down menu. Click on OK when you are done to actually mount the SD card with the new drive letter.

◼️ Show Hidden Files

It is uncommon, but also possible that your files are merely hidden. This can be due to malware, or even by accident. Such files don’t show up even when your file system is working properly and need to be found by other means.

You can show hidden files by using the attrib command. The File Explorer is an option too, but the cmd method is faster and works even on those files being forcefully hidden by a virus.
  1. To use the attrib command, open Command Prompt with administrator privileges. Just search cmd in the Start Menu and select the Run as administrator option.Command Prompt
  2. A command prompt terminal will open up, ready to accept commands. Enter: attrib -h -r -s /s /d X:\*.*
    Where X is the drive letter of your MicroSD card. All hidden files on the drive will be forcefully unhidden, allowing you to find your missing files with ease.Attrib Command

Step #3: Recover Deleted or Lost Data From MicroSD Card

If the basic methods outlined in the previous step fail to find your data, you need to try something else. The most powerful way of recovering data from any type of storage media is to use a dedicated SD card data recovery application.

We will be using Disk Drill to demonstrate the process, as it is an easy-to-use recovery tool that comes with a generous free plan. You can recover the important files and photos present on your MicroSD card without having to get a premium license at all.
  1. To get started, download and install Disk Drill from the official website. The download size is small, and the installation is pretty quick.Disk Drill Website
  2. Now run Disk Drill. The first few screens are for setting you up, after which you will get to the actual main screen.Disk Drill License Agreement
  3. Here you can see all the drives connected to your computer. As they display their size alongside their names, you can easily pick out your MicroSD card. Hit Search for lost data once your drive is selected.Disk Drill Main Screen
  4. Even as the program works on locating your lost or hidden files, you can see the progress being made. The discovered files are sorted by their file type immediately, giving you a look into how many files have been found. To check out these files, click on the Review found items button.Disk Drill Scanning
  5. The window will switch to a File Explorer view, showing you all the found files and folders. Disk Drill displays them with their original folder structure, making it easier to find the files you want. You can also use filters or select a specific category to locate them.Disk Drill Found Files
  6. For images, there is also a handy preview option. Hover your mouse over any photo you want to preview and click on the eye icon. This will display a reconstructed preview of the picture. This feature is especially useful for free users, as you can carefully preview and select which photos to recover with your limited free quota.Disk Drill Preview Hover
  7. Now select all the files you want to keep and click on the Recover button. You will be prompted to specify a destination folder. Any location on your PC is fine, but the SD card itself should be avoided to prevent important data from getting overwritten.Disk Drill Recovery Destination

What is the Difference Between MicroSD Card & Standard SD Card

There is a lot of confusion regarding the various names of SD cards. Some cards sport a ‘Micro’ prefix, while others are just captioned SD cards. Then there is the ‘HC’ or ‘XC’ printed underneath the main title, further complicating matters.

Basically, SD card naming conventions have evolved as the technology itself has changed during the last two decades. Cards currently in the market are usually SDHC cards, with a rare few SDXC cards also being sold.

When these cards got further miniaturized from their original form factor, they were then labeled as MicroSDHC cards or MicroSD in short. Thus MicroSD and standard SD cards differ not just in physical size, but also in technical parameters like capacity and transfer speeds.

FAQ

Conclusion

There is a lot that can go wrong with a MicroSD card. For hardware faults, there is no recourse but to contact a professional recovery service. Even then, the chances of recovery are slim.

But usually, the problem will be something milder. Be it an incorrectly formatted drive or hidden files, these issues can be easily fixed. You can take a step-by-step approach to fix these issues, or better yet, leave it to a data recovery tool to sort it all out.

Data recovery applications are built to be able to recover data lost due to any means and are the most hassle-free method of getting your files back from a malfunctioning MicroSD card.