How to format an SD card

SD card

No matter how much storage our mobile phone offers us, we all want more. That is why there are many users who resort to SD Cards, or cards removable flash memory. In this post we are going to see what are the steps to follow to format an SD card and leave it ready to use as if it were new.

To execute this formatting we can use a Windows PC without problems, as we explain below. Other things that we deal with in this post are the reasons why an SD card must be formatted and how to solve any problems that may arise during this operation.

First of all, it is necessary to remember that formatting is a obligatory step for anyone who buys a new SD Card and intends to use it. Because? The reason is very simple: that is the only way to Make sure that the memory card will be prepared to be used in a specific device.

Not only that: When we think about reusing the same SD card in another mobile or tablet, it will be necessary to format it again. In this case it is an even more logical question, since this formatting is essential to completely and permanently erase the old data files contained on the card. That, in addition to preserving privacy, is an extra precaution against the (always existing) danger of data being damaged or corrupted.

In summary, formatting is always going to be better than simply deleting the data or "emptying" the SD card. 

Format an SD card in Windows step by step

card reader

Let's move on to action. Let's see how to format an SD card in Windows in a simple way. To do this, before starting, we are going to need a very specific device: a card reader. The most used models work without problems with Windows 10 and Windows 11. In most cases, the operating system recognizes them automatically without the need to resort to external drivers.

From here, these are the steps to follow:

  1. Firstly, we connect the card reader to the PC and we insert the SD card.
  2. Then we will "My PC" and there we select the SD card.
  3. Next, we right-click to open the options box. There is the one we need to use, with the name "Format"
  4. Clicking “Format” opens a new window where you can select a default formatting option.
  5. Finally, we click on "Start" for Windows to start scanning and formatting the SD card.

Alternative method: using CMD

format sd card

Sometimes, the steps that we have indicated in the previous section cannot be executed. Sometimes the process is interrupted and The following error is displayed on the screen: "Windows could not complete formatting". When this happens, we can try the alternative method using the CMD console. This is how we can do it:

  1. To start, let's go to windows search box and we write "CMD".
  2. Then we right click on the application icon and select the option "Execute as an administrator."
  3. With the command prompt already open, we write the command diskpart and press Enter.
  4. Then we write «Album list» to display all the disks contained in the computer.
  5. Now you have to select disk “N” and press Enter.*
  6. The next step is to write the command format fs = fat32 (O well format fs = ntfs) and press Enter to format the card to FAT 32 or NTFS. Optionally, you can also assign a drive letter to the card directly.

With these simple steps, the SD card will be completely formatted. All that remains is to press Enter to close the command prompt window and conclude the process.

(*) The "N" represents the disk number corresponding to the SD card that we are going to format.

Completely erase data from an SD card

Formatting an SD card is a very useful operation for the reasons that we mentioned at the beginning of the post. Especially in the case of a card that you want to reuse. However, it is important to know that this process does not delete the data completely. These can be recovered using data recovery tools or applications.

If what we want to do is a complete erase, so that the data cannot be recovered in any way, then we will have to resort to specific erasure tools. Curiously, the programs that allow us to do this are the same ones that are used to carry out the recovery task.

To carry out this task successfully, there are many good options, although most are paid. Among them we can mention Disk Drill, iCare Data Recovery y Recuva (these last two are free).

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