7 Most Effective Tools to Repair Your SD Card and Retrieve Lost Data

User approval rate 94% - User approval rate


User approval rate

Last update:

sd card repair tools

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.

Jump to:

Our complete ranking

Useful Video

08:34 • 54854 views

Comparison Table

Key features analysis

Brief selection
disk drill windows icon
Disk Drill SD Card Recovery
Platform:  macOS Windows
Distributed as: Freemium
sandisk rescuepro icon
SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe
Platform:  Windows
Distributed as: Freemium
kickass undelete icon
Kickass Undelete
Platform:  Windows
Distributed as: 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.

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.

Disk Drill Logo

1. Disk Drill SD Card Recovery

Top pick

4.54 Best choice for Windows users – The Windows version of Disk Drill empowers regular users to reliably recover all kinds of lost data with a few simple clicks.

Read full Disk Drill review

Windows macOS

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest


Recover up to 500 MB for free

Price range



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.

Key Features:

  • One-click SD card repair.
  • Support for all commonly used file systems.
  • Comes with extra free disk tools.
Top Disk Drill Pros
  • Two for one

  • RAID Array Recovery

  • Windows Storage Spaces recovery

  • Organized scan results

  • Visualization of the scanning process

Top Disk Drill Cons
  • Phone support

  • Bootable disks

  • Recovery over a network

  • Video and photo repair

SanDisk RescuePRO® Logo

2. SanDisk RescuePRO Deluxe

1.6 Suitable for basic data recovery tasks – We’re still testing this software. Wait until we’re done for our final verdict!



Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest. 


Preview only

Price range



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.

Key Features:

  • Support for up to 1 TB large SD cards.
  • Can preview recoverable files.
  • Built-in backup tool.
Top SanDisk Pros
  • Supports many different types of SD cards

  • Can recover files up to 1TB in size

  • Recovers hundreds of file types

  • Free trial version to ensure compatibility with your digital camera

  • Phone support during business hours

Top SanDisk Cons
  • Does not support hard drive recovery

  • Requires recovery space equal to double the size of the recovered item

Kickass Undelete Logo

3. Kickass Undelete

2.0 Suitable for basic data recovery tasks – We’re still testing this software. Wait until we’re done for our final verdict!



Distributed as

Free All features are provided free of charge, and the software can be used, studied, and modified without restriction.



Price range



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.

Key Features:

  • Can filter by filename and extension.
  • Easy-to-use interface.
Top Kickass Undelete Pros
  • Completely free and open-source

  • Very intuitive

  • Supports both FAT and NTFS file systems

Top Kickass Undelete Cons
  • Offers only a few options

Recuva Logo

4. Recuva

3.04 Good for basic data recovery jobs – Despite its age and lack of development, Recuva is still worth taking a look at—if only because it recovers an unlimited amount of data for free.

Read full Recuva review


Distributed as

Freeware All features are provided free of charge without any limitations



Price range



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.

Key Features:

  • Recovery from damaged disks.
  • Deep scan for buried files.
  • Can securely delete sensitive files.
Top Recuva Pros
  • Completely free

  • Chances of recovery

  • Two operating modes

  • Secure file erase

  • Multilingual capabilities

Top Recuva Cons
  • No Enterprise license

  • Scanning/creation of images

  • Recovering structure and names

  • Recovery odds accuracy

  • Updating the list of drives

PhotoRec Logo

5. PhotoRec

3.37 Intimidating but rewarding at the same time – PhotoRec for Windows offers unbeatable value, but you need to overcome a steep learning curve to unlock it.

Read full PhotoRec review

Windows macOS Linux

Distributed as

Free All features are provided free of charge, and the software can be used, studied, and modified without restriction


Metadata recovery

Price range



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.).

Key Features:

  • Truly multi-platform.
  • Works even with severely damaged file systems.
  • Supports about 300 file families.
Top Photorec Pros
  • Completely free

  • Open source

  • Optional graphical user interface

  • Does not require installation

  • Capable signature scanner

Top Photorec Cons
  • Interface slows down during scanning

  • Window size settings

  • Rarely updated

  • No auto-update

  • Scan automation

R-Studio Logo

6. R-Studio

3.85 Empowering professionals; intimidating home users – R-Studio for Windows is a powerful data recovery software application, but regular home users may struggle to master it and put its capabilities to good use.

Read full R-Studio review

Windows macOS Linux

Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest


Recover files smaller than 256 KB

Price range



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.

Key Features:

  • Includes a capable hex editor.
  • Support for MBR, GPT, BSD, and APM partition layouts.
  • Advanced data recovery algorithms.
Top R-Studio Pros
  • Supports all major operating systems

  • Compatible with many file systems

  • RAID reconstruction module

  • Good performance of file system scanners

  • Network recovery

Top R-Studio Cons
  • Limited preview feature

  • Complicated

  • Unintuitive scanning process

  • Very complex scan results

  • S.M.A.R.T

DiskGenius Logo

7. DiskGenius

3.72 More than just regular data recovery – DiskGenius is a feature-rich data recovery solution that equips its users with a highly technical toolset to tackle complex data recovery situations.

Read full DiskGenius review


Distributed as

Freemium Some features are provided free of charge, but money is required to unlock the rest


Only small files can be copied

Price range



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.

Key Features:

  • Repair and recover SD cards with a single tool.
  • Clone entire SD cards with a few clicks.
Top DiskGenius Pros
  • 2 in 1


  • Fast scanning speed

  • Bad sectors detection and fixing

  • Boot into your own WinPE

Top DiskGenius Cons
  • Very complicated interface

  • Before you recover files you should learn the basics

  • Complicated list of sources

  • No preview convenience

  • No thumbnail view

Help Us Improve This Article

Was the provided information useful? Your vote is important to use!

Comparison table


The comparison table below provides an overview of all data recovery software applications that have made our list.

FeatureDisk DrillRecuvaPhotoRecR-StudioDiskGenius
Total Score Free Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque.
Disk Drill 100% - Disk Drill


Recuva 67% - Recuva


PhotoRec 74% - PhotoRec


R-Studio 85% - R-Studio


DiskGenius 82% - DiskGenius


RequirementsWindows 10-11 (x64 only)Windows XP-10, 11 (unofficial support)Windows XP-10, 11 (unofficial support)Windows 2000-11Windows 7-11
Clever in-depth scan
Quick scan
Distributed as Freemium Freeware Free Freemium Freemium
Trial version available
Trial version limitations Recover up to 500 MB for free Freeware. No limits Freeware. No limits Recover files smaller than 256 KB Only small files can be copied
Starting price$89.00 / PerpetualFreeFree$49.99 / Perpetual$69.90 / Lifetime
See Plans & Pricing Pricing details Pricing details Pricing details Pricing details Pricing details
Raw photo recovery
Video formats recovery
Document formats recovery
Helpdesk support
Live chat
Phone support

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.

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

Solution: There may be nothing wrong with the SD card itself. The issue may be in the device containing the card. To see if this is the case, take the card out of the device and try it in a different device or your computer’s card reader to see if you can access its data.

– Fix 2: Use the chkdsk command to attempt a memory card recovery

Solution: The Windows chkdsk command may be able to correct the problem of a corrupt memory card. Use this procedure to give it a try:

  1. Type cmd in the Windows search box which opens a command prompt and choose to run as administrator.
  2. Type the following command and hit Enter: chkdsk F: /f /x /r. Replace F with the drive letter of your SD card.

– Fix 3: Fix any drive letter compatibility issues

Solution: You may need to assign a new drive letter to your card. The letter it currently has may be in use or is not recognized by your operating system. Follow this procedure:

  1. Open Disk Management.
  2. Right-click the card whose letter will be changed.
  3. Click Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  4. Select the Change button and choose from the list of available drive letters.
  5. Click OK.

– Fix 4: Format the SD card

Solution: Use this procedure to format an SD card:

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. Find the drive letter for your SD card.
  3. Right-click the card and select Format.
  4. Select FAT32 or exFAT for larger drives.
  5. Click Start.
  6. Click OK when notified the data on the card will be deleted.

– Fix 5: Reinstall the device driver software

Solution: You can try to uninstall and reinstall the device driver software for the device which contains the card that cannot be read. This may resolve the problem and indicates that the card itself has not been damaged.

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.

Software recovery tools allow 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Software corruption can only be repaired using a special software tool capable of fixing logical file system errors. However, SD cards sometimes seem to be corrupted even though they are actually just dirty or worn out. In such cases, polishing the pins may be all it takes to get rid of all read/write issues.

Yes, it’s possible to recover data from a locked SD card because SD card recovery software doesn’t modify or delete any data—which is what the lock switch on the left side of most SD cards is designed to prevent.

When an SD card is in the RAW state, it doesn’t contain any file system. To format it, you first need to create a file system, which you can do, for example, with the Disk Management utility in Windows. Once you have created the file system, you can format the SD card by choosing the Format option in the File Explorer context menu.

SD cards frequently become corrupted when they’re used in several different devices, each of which may be using a slightly different data writing method. SD card corruption can also occur as a result of a malware infection, software bug, or improper ejection, just to name some of the most common causes of SD card corruption.

No, you should stop using your SD card as soon as you notice that it has become corrupted. Why? Because corruption is among the most common causes of data loss, and the last thing you want is to risk losing important photos, documents, or any other files stored on the SD card.

David Morelo

David Morelo is a professional content writer with a specialization in data recovery. He spends his days helping users from around the world recover from data loss and address the numerous issues associated with it.

When not writing about data recovery techniques and solutions, he enjoys tinkering with new technology, working on personal projects, exploring the world on his bike, and, above all else, spending time with his family.

David’s recent reviews
David’s popular publishings
Nikolay Lankevich
Nikolay Lankevich

Nikolay Lankevich has over 15 years of strong experience in various fields and platform includes Disaster Recovery, Windows XP/7. System analysis, design, application (Inter/Intranet) development, and testing. Provided technical supports on desktop and laptops on Win-XP and Macintosh for about 2000 employees.