Try as we might to secure our files and keep our images safely backed up, there are times when our memory cards fail, or appear to fail, usually when we least expect it. If you ever plug an SD card into your card reader only to find your memory card is not recognized, know that all hope is not lost. The issue you’re experiencing is actually rather common and there’s a very good chance that you will be able to find and recover your files, even if they are damaged or deleted.

Here is a three-part workflow for how to fix memory cards not recognized on Windows 7/8/10.

  1. Reasons the SD Card Is Not Recognized on Windows 7/8/10
  2. Ways to Fix Detection Issues
  3. Method for Recovering & Repairing Data from Corrupted SD Cards

Part 1. Why is the SD card not recognized on Windows 7/8/10?

If you find that your SD card does not show up in Windows 7, 8, or 10 after you insert it into the card reader, don’t panic. There are several reasons why this might happen and most of them have an easy solution. To help you save time on troubleshooting this issue, here’s a quick overview of a number of reasons why your card might not be recognized:

  • The SD card might not be fully plugged into the card reader
  • The card reader might have a loose connection or need to be cleaned
  • The “Write Protected” feature may be activated on the SD card
  • The driver for the card reader might need to be updated and/or reinstalled
  • There may be no assigned drive letter
  • The SD card or the card reader might be damaged

[Related Reading: When Should You Replace a Memory Card? – Q&A]

Part 2. How can we fix the SD card or memory card not detected on Windows 7/8/10?

Below, we’ll explore some ways to fix the issue based on the possible causes listed above, and we will hopefully get your card reader (and more importantly your SD card) working again.

Try a New USB Port or Card Reader

As scary as it is to have any issues with your files, it is not uncommon for SD cards to stop showing up for any of the reasons listed above. At the top of the list for potential fixes, I suggest you begin troubleshooting by simply testing your SD card and card reader. First, try a different USB port. If the problem persists, then try using another card reader. Hopefully, the issue is with the USB port or the card reader (both of which are still inconvenient), and not the SD card itself. Testing USB ports and alternate card readers is a good way to find out.

If you’ve tried the above fixes and find that your SD card is still not recognized in Windows, then it’s time to move on to some more technical troubleshooting.

Switch the “Write Protected” Slider (If Necessary)

how to fix sd cards not recognized by windows write protected 01 2

We already mentioned that the “Write Protected” feature may have been activated on the SD card. It’s a little slider that can usually be found on the side of the card (see the image above). If you can’t find the slider but suspect that this feature has been activated, here’s a quick fix:

  • Locate the “Disk Drivers” option:
    • Access Device management
    • Launch the Run Window (Windows key + R)
    • Type devmgmt.msc and click the “Ok” button
  • Open the ‘Disk Drivers’ option and find your SD card
    • Right-click on your card & select “Properties”
    • Locate the writing policy option under the “General Tab” or “Policy Tab” and switch the tab off
    • Click the “Ok” button

Change or Add a Drive Letter

Assuming this doesn’t help, then you may need to assign a drive letter to the SD card, which you can do by following these steps:

  • Locate and select “Disk Management” option (look under the “Start” button)
  • Find your SD card and right-click to choose ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’
  • Select the “Change” button & choose a drive letter from the list
  • Confirm your selection and exit
  • If it turns out that your SD card is missing a drive letter, click on the “Add” button

Run CHKDSK to make the SD Card Detectable

One option you have that often helps those in a similar situation is to run CHKDSK to make the SD card detectable. Just follow these steps:

  • Locate and select “Disk Management” option
  • Press Windows + R and type cmd. into the box when prompted and then press the
  • Type chkdsk D: / f and press “Enter”

Reinstall the Driver for the Card Reader

If you recently updated or upgraded Windows, then you may need to reinstall the driver to resolve the issue and make your card appear on your device again. Here’s how to do that in a few short steps:

  • Locate and/or download the card reader driver file. You can typically find the driver file on the website for the brand of the card reader you’re using
  • Open and run the driver file
  • When the driver file is ready, click “Finish” and insert the SD card reader
  • The card reader should now appear under your list of “Devices and Drives”
  • Open the card reader

Format the Card

Finally, you may also need to format your card, which I recommend doing only after you’ve retrieved whatever data you don’t want to lose.

Part 3. Using Data Recovery Software

how to fix memory cards not recognized by windows recoverit box

In a worst case scenario, your SD card not showing up could have to do with the card becoming corrupted or damaged. If that is the case, we recommend using specialized software such as Wondershare’s Recoverit Data Recovery (or other similar software) to retrieve deleted or lost data from your corrupted or damaged SD card. This software should simplify the recovery process.

Here’s an example of how to recover and repair data from corrupted SD cards using Wondershare’s Recoverit Data Recovery software:

Step 1.

how to fix memory cards not recognized by windows recoverit example 01Make sure your SD card is connected to your computer and select it from the disk list, which you’ll find when you open the software.

Step 2.

how to fix memory cards not recognized by windows recoverit example 02

The software will automatically scan your SD card and search for data.

Step 3.

how to fix memory cards not recognized by windows recoverit example 03

When the scan is complete, you can preview and select which files to recover and save to a new device.

These tools often include advanced recovery functions for retrieving all sorts of files, from songs and videos to photos, documents, and emails. The best part about using specialized recovery software is that it’s intuitively designed and often effective. You can try more data recovery software for free in the market when need it.

Prevention Tips

As you can see, most of the time, the issue can be resolved fairly quickly with just a little bit of troubleshooting. To conclude this article, here are some tips for preventing data loss in the future:

  • Only use high quality memory cards from reputable brands
  • Only use memory cards in good condition without any physical damage
  • Use a memory card wallet to protect your cards
  • Consider cameras with dual card slots
  • Transfer images to another device immediately after a shoot

If you have any other tips or questions, please let us know in the comments below.