How to Unformat SD Card on Computer and Android Phone (Freeware Included)

Peter William
February 08, 2023 Preview 10.0K Preview 1
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Sometimes we just mistakenly hit the Format button or not properly format a SD Card after getting the message “You need to format the disk in drive XXX before you can use it.”, and then we lost all important files stored on the SD Card, like family photos, confidential documents, precious videos, etc. There is no function to directly reverse or undo the SD Card formatting, but we can still unformat a SD Card by recovering data from formatted SD card with tools. 

Now, let’s see how to unformat SD card on computer and Android phone, there is freeware available for this task.

Can You Unformat An SD Card?

Yes. Surely you can unformat an SD card by specific data recovery tools if acting quickly.

Most people think formatting SD card on computes, phones, camera, etc. would remove all the data from it instantly. But actually, your files won’t disappear immediately, the formatting just restores your memory card to default setting and marks the SD Card as blank.

In other words, the formatted SD Card will write the boot sector and the empty file system to the partition, and will be filled with new data until all previous formatted files are overwritten. Your file has not yet been completely deleted and you still have the chance to unformat SD card. Any operation might overwrite the existing data, which gives rise to permanent data loss. Before unformatting SD card, please stop using it.

How to Unformat SD Card on Computer?

Here we will recommend 3 ways altogether to unformat SD Card on computer. You can choose the one meeting your needs the most.

Most Reliable Tool to Unformat SD Card

With the aid of Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac or Windows, you can carry on SD card unformatting yourself on your computer, without asking an expert. As the best unformat memory card software, it can recover files from internal and external hard disk, SD card, USB flash drive, digital camera, game console, whatever be the device that connect to your computer.

It offers quick and deep data recovery modes dedicated to different data loss scenarios: deletion, formatting, partition loss, repartition, virus attack, system crash, macOS update or downgrade, etc. Cisdem allows preview recoverable items before recovery too, saving your time and space to recover unwanted files.

How to Unformat SD Card on Computer Using Cisdem?

  1. Connect the SD Card to your computer with a card reader.
  2. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery on your computer.
    Free Download   Free Download
  3. Select a location.
    Go to SD Card Recovery and choose SD Card that you have formatted.unformat sd card cisdem 01
  4. Start scanning the card.
    Click on Search for lost files to start the process. Go to Type and check files in a specific folder, or you can use the filter tool to quickly search files.unformat sd card cisdem 02
  5. Preview and recover files to get SD card unformatted.
    You can double click on the file to preview. Then select the files you want to recover and click on Recover button to restore formatted SD card data on Mac.unformat sd card cisdem 03

Alternatives to Unformat SD Card for Free

In addition to Cisdem Data Recovery, another 2 free alternative solutions will be also introduced as following. What calls for your attention is that the coming applications are not guaranteed to be 100% working on your Mac or Windows, but are still worth a try if you want to undo the format on your SD memory card and get the formatted files back for free.

1# Using CMD

Short for Command Prompt, CMD refers to the default command-line interpreter program available on Windows operating systems. To some extent, CMD is capable of detecting and fixing errors on your SD card, thus to restore files from the memory card.

How to Unformat SD Card Using CMD on Windows 11/10/8/7?

  1. Connect your formatted SD card with the computer.
  2. Press Windows+R > type CMD into the input box > click on OK to run Command Prompt on your Windows computer.unformat sd card by cmd 01
  3. Type the command: chkdsk *: /f and hit Enter to execute the command. (Replace “*” with the drive letter of your own SD card.)unformat sd card by cmd 02
  4. Type: Y and press Enter to continue.
  5. Type the drive letter of your SD card and press Enter once more.
  6. Type F:\>attrib -h -r -s /s /d *.* and then hit Enter. Finally wait for the command to complete.

If CMD is successful, your important files will be recovered and saved in a newly created folder on the SD card.

2# Using PhotoRec

PhotoRec is an open source data recovery program developed for recovering lost files from hard disks, memory cards, CD-ROM. It supports virtually all file systems: FAT, NTFS, exFAT, HFS+…

Though PhotoRec uses read-only principle to read the drive and card which makes it is safe to use, it uses commands to recover files, so users will have to use the arrows keys to make options when the commands run in Terminal app. It is not user friendly, but useful to get the files back from a formatted SD card. Assuming you would like to do the SD card unformatting on Mac with freeware, try PhotoRec.

How to Unformat SD Card on Mac Using Freeware PhotoRec?

  1. Connect the SD Card to your Mac with a card reader.
  2. Download and install PhotoRec on your Mac.
  3. Open the program and enter your user password to run PhotoRec on your Mac. unformat sd card mac free01
  4. Select SD card from the disk list and press Enter to continue. unformat sd card mac free 02
  5. Select the Partition and press Enter to continue. unformat sd card mac free 03
  6. Select file system and press Enter to continue. unformat sd card mac free 04
  7. Then select the destination to save recovered files and press C to launch the PhotoRec recovery process. Check the recovered files in the destination folder.

How to Unformat SD Card on Android Phone without Computer?

On Android phones, you can directly unformat the SD Card without computer, with the help of a Android SD Card recovery application. There are many options available in Google Play, we tested several high-ranking apps and pick the best for you: Photo Recovery developed by Daniel Braga.

The program can undelete photos, SMS, videos, documents and other files from both Android SD Card & internal storage, no rooting will be required and your files are still safe on your Android phone.

Recover Files from Formatted SD Card on Android Without PC

  1. In Google Play, install SD Card Recovery app to your Android phone.
  2. Tap the Scan button to start finding formatted files on your Android SD card.unformat sd card android 01
  3. Check the found files and select them, them click Restore to unformat Android SD card.unformat android sd card 02

Tips: How to Fix Memory Card Unformat Error?

Unformat error is one of the common errors, which doesn’t delete files from SD card but disables you to read or write the data. Consequently, to fix the memory card unformatted error, some measures should be taken.

  1. Try another devices. That because the type of the memory chip may be inconsistent with or misread by your device.
  2. SD card might be infected with the virus. It is wise to download a powerful anti-virus program to scan the memory card.
  3. You can check if your SD card is write-protected. If so, remove the write protection, as it can also cause the memory card unformatted error.
  4. Make quite sure all drivers on your computer are compatible with the memory card. If not, update them.
  5. For phone users, simply reboot the phone and attempt to boot the phone to Safe Mode.
  6. Check it over for bad sectors. If your SD card contains bad sector, you are unable to access the data.
  7. Memory card unformatted error keeps you from acquiring the file on SD card. Data recovery software can act as the go-between, fixing and recovering the files on your card.
  8. For serious physical damage, you can only contact with manufacturer or purchase a brand new memory card.


Mistaken or improper SD card formatting could result in files loss. Luckily, with useful tools like Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac or Windows, you are able to unformat your SD Card and recover files in a easy and quick manner. Moreover, backup is always the best solution for all kinds of data loss. Thus, we should keep good habit of backup by copying your important files from SD card to multi-devices, even to cloud devices.

Peter William
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Peter has always had great enthusiasm for writing, programming and web development. He likes writing about software and technology, his works are featured on some tech blogs or forums like Tom's Hardware, CNET, etc.

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  • Thomas

    Editor, can you please provide more details of the method 2# Using PhotoRec? Now I'm having some trouble in the recovery process...

    0 months ago commonReply

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