SD cards provide a great way to extend the storage on a digital camera, smartphone, or another mobile device. Unfortunately, these small storage devices can easily become damaged or corrupted, causing you to lose precious photos, important documents, and other files. Let’s take a look at the top 7 best SD card repair software tools that you can use to recover data from a corrupted SD card for free.
What to Look for in an SD Card Repair Tool?
SD card repair tools are available from many different developers, each offering a unique set of features and capabilities. Here’s what you should look for to select the best SD card repair tool available:
- 🔧 Repair & recovery features: Some SD card repair software solutions can perform only a basic file system integrity check, while others can repair even severe corruption and recover permanently deleted data.
- ⌨ Usability: Unless you’re an advanced user, you probably don’t want to learn complex terminal commands just to recover data from a corrupted SD card, right? Fortunately, there are many great SD card repair tools with a beautiful graphical user interface that you can choose from.
- ⚡ Performance: Obviously, you want to recover as many of your files as possible, which is why it’s critical to choose an SD card repair tool that recognizes and retrieves all common image, video, audio, document, and other file formats.
- 📂 File system support: While FAT32 is the most commonly used file system when it comes to SD cards, there are many situations where other file systems, such as exFAT or NTFS, are more suitable. That’s why you need to choose an SD card repair tool with support for all commonly used file systems—or at least all file systems that you personally use.
- 💲 Price: While there are free SD card repair tools, their performance and usability are often far behind their commercial counterparts. To get the best of both worlds, choose a commercial SD card repair tool that lets you recover a certain amount of data for free.
Part 1: The Top 7 Best SD Card Repair Software
Now that you how to choose SD card repairing software, it’s time to take a closer look at the top 7 best solutions currently available so that you have something to choose from.
1. Disk Drill (Windows & Mac)
Disk Drill is the best SD card repair software for free main reasons. First, it can recover permanently deleted files and lost partitions from all SD cards because it supports the FAT (FAT12, FAT16, FAT32), exFAT, NTFS, NTFS5, ext2/ext3/ext4, HFS+, and APFS file systems.
Second, Disk Drill has an intuitive user interface that lets you scan your SD card with a simple click and gives you the option to preview all recoverable files before you commit to their recovery.
Third, the basic version of Disk Drill can recover up to 500 MB of data for free, so you can fully test how it works before upgrading to Disk Drill PRO. What’s more, all versions of Disk Drill come with extra free disk tools that you can use to protect important files and organize your data.
- One-click SD card repair.
- Support for all commonly used file systems.
- Comes with extra free disk tools.
- Disk Drill Basic: can recover up to 500 MB of data
- Disk Drill PRO: $89.00
Here’s how to recover files from a corrupted SD card with Disk Drill:
- Download and install Disk Drill for Windows.
- Connect the SD card to your computer using a mobile device or card reader.
- Launch the application and select the SD card from the list of available disks.
- Click the Search for lost data button to begin the scanning process.
- Preview the files that can be recovered and select those you want to restore.
- Click the Recover button and select a new location to save the recovered data.
2. SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe (Windows)
SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe is a handy SD card repairing software tool from one of the largest manufacturers of SD cards in the world. The tool has dedicated buttons for recovering photos, audio/video, and other files, allowing you to begin the recovery process with a simple click. The Deluxe version can repair even 1 TB large SD cards, while the Standard version is limited to 256 GB.
- Support for up to 1 TB large SD cards.
- Can preview recoverable files.
- Built-in backup tool.
- RescuePRO Standard: $39.99
- RescuePRO Deluxe: $59.99
- RescuePRO Deluxe Commercial: $249.95
3. Kickass Undelete (Windows)
If you’re looking for a simple SD card repair tool that you can use to undelete lost files without any limitations, then Kickass Undelete is a great choice. Well, at least if you’re a Windows user because that’s the only operating system this software supports. Apart from its price, perhaps the next best thing about Kickass Undelete is its straightforward user interface, which greatly benefits from the tool’s limited number of options and features an almost hideously large scan button.
- Can filter by filename and extension.
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Kickass Undelete is an open-source project hosted on Sourceforge.
4. Recuva (Windows & Mac)
Recuva is a straightforward general-purpose data recovery application for Windows and Mac that works great as SD card repairing software. Its free version doesn’t have any significant limitations, so you can use it to recover an unlimited amount of data from any SD card. While the software does support all commonly used file systems, the fact that it was last updated in 2016 tells us that its support for modern file formats is limited.
- Recovery from damaged disks.
- Deep scan for buried files.
- Can securely delete sensitive files.
- Recuva Free: $0
- Recuva Pro: $19.95
5. PhotoRec (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
PhotoRec stands out as the best open-source SD card repair software currently available. If it wasn’t for its command-line user interface, which makes it intimidating for beginners, it would easily rank a lot higher on this list. Why? Because it runs on all major operating systems, can recover more than 480 file extensions, and works with all memory cards (Secure Digital/SD, CompactFlash, Memory Stick, SmartMedia, MMC, etc.).
- Truly multi-platform.
- Works even with severely damaged file systems.
- Supports about 300 file families.
- PhotoRec is completely free and open-source.
6. R-Studio (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
R-Studio is a feature-packed data recovery software solution that can be used to recover data from any SD card. Because it’s aimed predominantly at professionals, it includes advanced features such as a hex editor. For heavily damaged or unknown file systems, R-Studio uses raw file recovery to scan for known file types and recover as much data as possible.
- Includes a capable hex editor.
- Support for MBR, GPT, BSD, and APM partition layouts.
- Advanced data recovery algorithms.
- R-Studio FAT: $49.99
- R-Studio NTFS: $59.99
- R-Studio: $79.99
- R-Studio Network: $179.99
- R-Studio Technician: $899.00
7. DiskGenius (Windows)
DiskGenius describes itself as an all-in-one repair and recovery solution that addresses most issues users face when working with SD cards. For example, it can find and repair bad sectors, fix various data loss problems, resize or extend partitions, and more. While DiskGenius doesn’t have the most polished user interface out there, the fact that it’s used by companies such as Samsung, Lenovo, and Microsoft says a lot about its performance.
- Repair and recover SD cards with a single tool.
- Clone entire SD cards with a few clicks.
- DiskGenius Free: $0
- DiskGenius Standard: $69.90
- DiskGenius Professional: $99.90
Part 2: Causes of Memory Card Corruption
Memory cards can become corrupted for a variety of reasons, including:
- 🧑 Human factor: Here’s an interesting fact: humans are responsible for most cases of SD card corruption. Even though we don’t like to admit it, we’re often lazy to properly eject our SD cards before removing them, and we also have the tendency to use the same SD card in multiple devices even though we know that we shouldn’t.
- 🐛 Malware and viruses: Many viruses and malware are designed with the intention of destroying files or corrupting the storage media with which they come in contact. Especially exposed to malware and viruses are memory cards in smartphones and other mobile devices because their users often download apps and files from the internet.
- 🌎 Environmental factors: Excessive heat and moisture can cause any SD card to become corrupted. These small storage devices are not meant to be durable, and they can easily be damaged if not properly protected and stored.
- 🏭 Manufacturing defects: Except for their storage capacity and data transfer speed, all SD cards seem more or less identical. However, there’s a huge difference in how reliable bargain bin versus brand-name SD cards are. To avoid corruption caused by manufacturing defects, you should always pay extra for SD cards from reputable manufacturers, such as SanDisk or Lexar.
- 👩💻 Software errors: Memory card corruption can also be caused by buggy software, which is why it’s a good idea to first copy files from your SD card to your computer before you start editing them.
Part 3: Methods to Fix SD Card Corruption Without Software
Here are some tried and tested methods that you can use to fix a corrupt or unresponsive SD card. To save time, we recommend you try the methods in the order they’re listed.
– Fix 1: Try to connect the SD card to another device
– Fix 2: Use the chkdsk command to attempt a memory card recovery
– Fix 3: Fix any drive letter compatibility issues
– Fix 4: Format the SD card
– Fix 5: Reinstall the device driver software
Recommendations to Protect your SD Card
Protecting your SD card is really a matter of exercising caution and common sense. Some suggestions that can minimize the chances of losing data from your SD card include:
- Keep your SD card in a storage case when not in use: SD cards are fragile—perhaps too fragile considering the massive amounts of data they can store these days. To prevent your SD card from becoming physically damaged, we highly recommend you keep it in a storage case when not in use.
- Make sure your SD cards are properly organized: Many people simply throw their SD cards inside a camera bag or drawer without organizing them in any way. That’s a bad habit because it makes it really easy to pick the wrong card and accidentally format it. Even if you’re in a hurry, you should always take the time to organize your SD cards.
- Use one SD card for just one device: Some devices, such as certain cameras and smartphones, are greedy and don’t like when they don’t have the entire SD card for themselves. To avoid issues with data corruption, you should always use one SD card for just one device.
- Lock your SD card when you’re done using it: The mechanical lock located on the left side of most SD cards makes it impossible to delete or modify any data. As such, you should take advantage of it whenever you’re done using your SD card to avoid accidental formatting.
- Safely eject your SD card: Removing an SD card from your computer or camera before all data has been written can cause the same data to become unreadable, so always take the time to safely eject your SD card before you physically disconnect it.
If you remember and practice these five simple suggestions, your chance of losing important files will be far lower than it would be otherwise.
Why You Should Use SD Card Repair Software
The main reason why you should use SD card repair software is that it provides you the most reliable method for recovering data from a corrupted SD card.
A software recovery tool allows you to get back important photos and files that cannot be restored through native Windows features or other means. An application like Disk Drill can get back photos that you thought were gone forever with a few simple steps—no special knowledge or skills required.
What’s more, the best SD card repair software lets you preview recoverable files (and sometimes even recover at least some of them) free of charge, so there’s no reason not to give SD card repair tools a try.
Did You Know?
You can obtain SD cards that are intended to withstand harsh conditions while retaining their storage capabilities. SanDisk has a line of high-endurance SD cards that are designed to record for up to 20,000 hours. They can operate in freezing and extremely high temperatures and are both waterproof and shockproof. These devices increase the functionality of SD cards by enabling them to be used reliably in extreme conditions that would damage ordinary cards.