SD & microSD memory card problems continue in 2014

This updated post (first published five years ago)  is not about retirement or Asia. However, mobile devices like cell phone, smartphone, tablet, notebook, netbook, computer, digital camera, pda or mp3 player are used daily by people of all ages, in all walks of life, all over the world. Most of these devices have removable extra storage ‘flash’ memory – a fingertip size card (micro SD) inside the device, accessible through an external slot or small flap on the casing. In some phones, battery removal is necessary for access.

Pointing the finger at microSD manufacturersMemory storage prices continue to drop and there are many brands on the market from leading manufacturers like Kingston and SanDisk whose 64 GB micro SD now sells for under $50. China also supplies cheaper products which can be less reliable. There is always a risk of loss of valuable data and photographs, not always retrievable, whether the genuine or cheap copy card fails or the camera or other device itself is lost or even stolen!

Therefore, the best ‘solution’ is to MAKE REGULAR BACKUPS of your SD card contents to another drive or data storage service. Leading brand names like Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Buffalo etc make small, portable external hard drives in 500 GB and higher capacities from around $50 or £35 in the UK. Note that today’s USB 3.0 drives can also be used in older computers and laptops with USB 2.0 ports. These external drives are ideal for any computer with the hard drive filling up. Changing the internal drive and reinstalling the operating system, software and data can be a nightmare. There’s also the security aspect; drives can be stored off the premises or anywhere.

But back to the post topic of SD card problems that may have already begun. Most users are not concerned with their removable extra memory as it functions as part of the system, without needing any special setting; they may not even be aware of the card or its features. But problems can arise when the card is nearly full and files need deleting, transferring to other storage, or replacing the current SD card with a higher capacity one.

More importantly, in many cases the SD card just quits or locks up for no apparent reason. It’s now already too late for backup. Perhaps read the paragraph above again? Prevention is better than cure.

Having had SD issues myself, I created a Micro SD page on the R-A website several years ago. Since then it has been consistently one of the most popular, receiving hundreds of hits every day – approaching 220,000 by the end of 2013. There’s no doubt that many have problems and card failures; there are numerous forums where people post, including phone and card manufacturer support sites. Quite a few of these refer back to my SD pages and posts too!

Common issues:  file access from phones with locked or encrypted SD cards, files lost

sandisk2g1.  If a microSD cannot be recognised by a computer (read, write, format etc), it may not be the card itself but a microSD to SD adapter typically needed for it to fit in a standard size card reader slot. The adapter usually comes with it. This is the first thing to check for a fault. Try using a different adapter (Kingston seem to have faulty ones); if you don’t have one, borrow one or get a USB card reader with Micro SD slot for about $4 or just over UK £2.

2.  Nokia phones with locked microSD cards that need a password for access (happens suddenly without user intervention). Retrieving or removing the password depends upon the model. Some Nokias have an “MMC store” folder; copy this to a computer and open with Notepad to find the password. Reformatting the card (losing all content) allows a new password e.g. 1234 to be set if needed.

3.  BlackBerry card encryption (.rem) problems were originally addressed in February 2013. A summary of comments and replies was posted on May 13. See all comments below.

4.  Android phones and tablets card data loss/files unable to be read. New 2013 software for data recovery from Android devices including messages, contacts, photos and videos. Download Android Data Recovery (free trial – Windows).

5.  Android 4 ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) phone and tablet SD cards are managed differently from previous versions, creating file transfer problems. See August comments below.

How to copy/move files between SD cards or transfer to and from a computer

There are different options for working with files. One is with the USB cable supplied with the phone and used in conjunction with a software program also supplied by the manufacturer. e.g. Nokia Data Suite. Another is Bluetooth – a wireless link between the two, as also is WiFi. If you have a built in or USB card reader, removing the microSD card from the phone and connecting it directly to a computer is easiest, but it doesn’t always work.

Some card readers now accept a micro SD card directly (see above); previously it needed a micro to standard size SD adapter often but not always supplied with a micro SD purchased separately and often the cause of problems, one of which is the write protect switch on the adapter – the micro SD itself does NOT have a switch.

Whichever way you connect the card to a computer,  a file manager such as Windows Explorer should see an extra external hard drive . The drive letter (G in the image) depends on how many drives are already in the computer, including the CD or DVD drive.

Tsd-exphe card’s folders and files (not always all of them) will be visible too and can be copied or moved by dragging and dropping them to a folder on another hard drive or perhaps burning a CD for archiving purposes.

Sometimes they are hidden or copyright-protected by the manufacturer and other means are needed to move or copy them. See our main MicroSD page for how to copy all SD card content to another location.

Due to the sheer scope of this topic, and the different problems that users experience, the web page  is long and rambling – even more so than this post, especially for someone looking for a ‘quick fix’ which may simply not be available for a particular issue.

I have done my best both here and on the more comprehensive R-A Micro SD web page to offer solutions, workarounds and utility programs I have found by searching forums for users with card problems. SD and microSD cards have issues that have never been fully addressed by card, phone or camera manufacturers or operating system providers.

If you have a problem, you need to read all the information, and/or download and run certain programs to read and manage your card. However, chances are high that your data and card format are already lost. You will need a replacement card.

Most importantly, begin BACKING UP YOUR CARD DATA REGULARLY as soon as you acquire a device that contains or has the option of adding an SD card. Don’t wait for the problem to start!

If you don’t see your problem listed here, look below in comments from others and my replies. If you cannot fix it yourself, be prepared to replace the card (under warranty if possible); you could also try visiting a phone shop or service centre. Good luck!

Apologies, but new comments cannot be made for this post.

Updated Feb 17, 2014.

MicroSD page at Retire-Asia.com

274 Comments

274 Comments

  1. If you have tried all the tools suggested, then you probably need a new card.

  2. If you have tried all the tools suggested, then you may have already lost your files. You probably need a new card.

  3. I have just installed windows 8. I have an Alltel razr maxx and my sd card seems to not be recognized by win 8. I have a micromate sd reader for the mini sd and when i insert it into the laptop it keeps wanting to format the card. I dont wana lose my photos and videos of my grands so how can i transfer?

  4. Have you tried using a USB cable to connect the phone directly?

  5. These were definitely the most helpful set of pages to help me SUCCESSFULLY add an SDHC card to Nokia X2 after some initial hiccoughs. Main points:
    * Nokia_X2-01_UG_en-US_TMO.pdf which implied that a microSD card was required (not SDHC).
    * Used a SanDisk 8GB microSDHC card OK.
    * The Nokia X2 was full of photos/music etc (less than 2MB free) – had to clean up quite a bit of space before I could get the music play facility to work from the SDHC card. This problem had previously made me think the SDHC card was NOT being recognised.
    * Inserting the card into slot was tricky I found – needed a mag glass to make sure it was correctly seated.
    Thanks to author of these pages.

  6. If anyone is thinking of getting a micro SD card to expand the memory on their toy, I would suggest staying away from SanDisk. They have just come out and admitted they produced a series of bad 32GB/64GB cards, but they allowed users to lose data for years before admitting that they produced a bad card. The problem is that now all those cards are suspect because they haven’t produced a list of batch numbers that were bad. Buying from such a dishonest company is just risky, the cards may work for a few months to even a year and suddenly fail and there goes all your memories. I understand that bad production runs do happen and the honest companies immediately tells the public and issues a recall instead of blaming the device as causing the issues. Seagate had a bad run a few years back, but you could download a program to check to see if your hard drive was affected before the drive failed. That is what I call proactive and that is why I still use Seagate today. I will never buy another SanDisk product because saving $10 isn’t worth the headaches of an RMA or trying to recover lost memories.

  7. This is definitely a cause for concern for SanDisk card owners. To those who have not yet had problems with genuine SanDisk or other quality brand SD and micro SD cards, I would say MAKE REGULAR BACKUPS! To those with cheap copies or dodgy Chinese generics, you’re already taking a chance on losing your data and images. MAKE MORE REGULAR BACKUPS!

  8. my 2gb micro sd memory card automatically password generated how to reslove the problem what is the solution..all files does not removed

  9. Can’t help you without knowing what device the card is in.

  10. My friend and i got the new samsung glasaxy s4 mini about a month ago, my sd card has been working fine up until now. I can play everything thats on it but i can’t move or delete anything – not even back to the phone memory itself. I tried my friends SD card in my phone and that worked fine but now she has put her own SD card back in her phone hers doesn’t work either now?? any ideas what went worng?

  11. Her card may have lost its format. First, try some of the utilities as described above to retrieve important files, photos etc and save them somewhere else.

    Then post your problem in a Samsung Galaxy forum; you may find similar issues.

  12. Nokia asha 308 ,hcl me tab y3,samsung monte, mts ZTE N855D, 32gb sand disk memory card cannot access, password random generated by sd card. remove password without killing the data(offical)

  13. What device was the card in when the password was generated? Was it created by an app? Search forums for similar problems. That’s all I can suggest.

  14. pahle 8 gb micro sd card card reader me lagane par laptop PAr show up karta tha par ab ni karta usi card reader me vahi 8 gb micro sd card tell me reason..
    or nahi ye kisi mobile me show up ni kar raha h..
    tell me please

  15. Sorry I cannot read your language. Try using a different card reader?

  16. Why so complicated

    Ditched all your android device

    Just buy a iphone

    Android platform simply doesn’t work

    Failed storage system

    Failed RAM management

    I’ve gone thro all that

    Till today it’s still in a mess

    Can we sue Google and demand our money back???????????

  17. We’re all entitled to our opinions as well as choice of device or operating system, whether it’s based on value for money, reliability or anything else. I don’t know why but I have never been tempted to buy Apple. My choice.

  18. my micro sd card 4gb not showing in mobile nokia c6 or laptop. I had tried some proces ,the problen is still now. When this problem occure showing the msg stop disk data may be lost. Then i stop& check the memory card bt memory not showing in my nokia c6..then i tried to connect the pc bt not showing memory card..many time insert & remove card bt not show ..plz sir help me..how can i recover data & how to solve the problm sd card work properly. Plz help me

  19. It sounds like the card has lost its format already and data cannot be recovered. Sorry.

  20. Its been 2-3 months that i am facing a problem regrading random rebooting of my nokia x2-01 whenever i insert any microSD card in it. Whenever i insert any sd card it restarts automatically…..n does reboot simultaneously till i remove it. What to do. Please reply on my E-mail. Thanks.

  21. Suggest you find a Nokia users forum and others who might have similar problems. What you see on the blog and website are all the help I can provide.

  22. i am using 2 gb memory card in nokia 2700. my memory card is getting readable only in my phone. but it is not readable in other phones like samsung micro max and computers what can i do for to make my card to readable atleast in computer

  23. my memory card does not paly all songs in mobile phone all songs are mp3 format. and it is also does not show some folder in phone. what is problem

  24. Sorry people, I have done my best both here and on the R-A web page to offer solutions, workarounds and utility programs I have found by searching forums for users with similar problems. SD and microSD cards have issues that have never been fully addressed by card, phone or camera manufacturers or operating system providers.

    If you have an SD card problem, you need to read the information fully, and/or download and run certain programs to manage your card. However, chances are high that your data and card format are already lost. You will need a replacement card.

    Most importantly, start BACKING UP CARD DATA REGULARLY as soon as you start using a device that has an SD card. Don’t wait for the problem to start!

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