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    Problems with memory cards and how to fix

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    Aina Prat Blasi

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    You may experience problems with memory cards from time to time, and we want to point out before moving on… they are not easy to understand. Solving such problems can be a bit tricky. These tips only offer you the best way to understand how to troubleshoot memory cards.

    Use a different USB port. Some computers have more than one USB port. Check your computer's I / O. If there are USB ports on both the front and back panels, try making the switch. If your card reader works on one port but not the other, you may have a problem with the USB port and not a problem with the SD card as you initially thought. You can also try to swap the USB cable with another one.

    Restart the computer. An old but still working method, restarting the computer is a time-tested solution that surprisingly solves most of the problems users encounter. Unplug the card reader, then plug it back in after rebooting. See if the problem persists.

    Update the drivers. Most USB card readers automatically install drivers when you connect them for the first time. However, manufacturers often update their drivers to fix bugs or make improvements to their product. These updates are made available for download but often go unnoticed. Check with the card reader manufacturer for updates and install them if any. See if this solves the problem.

    Check your computer. If the USB drive is not recognized and no drive letter appears in My Computer, the computer may be out of memory. Try closing all programs for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can use Task Manager (Windows) or Activity Monitor (Mac) to force shutdown of memory-consuming applications.

    Disable write protection. If your SD card is recognized but you are having difficulty editing files, you may simply have turned on read and write protection. Memory cards have a physical switch located on one side. It may have been accidentally activated during its use.

    The computer cannot find or recognize the external memory card reader. First, make sure the memory card reader is compatible with your computing system. Older players may not work with newer operating systems, for example. Second, make sure the USB cable you are using for the connection is not broken. Then, try another USB connection slot on your PC, as the player may not draw enough power from the connection slot you originally used. You may also need to download the latest software and drivers from the memory card reader manufacturer's website.

    The reader does not recognize SDHC cards. Some older memory card readers will not be able to recognize the SDHC memory card format, which allows SD-type memory cards to store 4GB or more of data. Memory card readers that can read SD cards of at least 2GB, but may not be able to read cards of at least 4GB, are probably not compatible with SDHC. Some memory card readers may be able to recognize the SDHC format with a firmware update; otherwise, you will have to purchase a new player.

    The external memory card reader does not seem to copy data quickly. You may have a reader designed for use with USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 connected to a USB 1.1 slot. USB 1.1 slots are backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices, but cannot read data as fast as a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 slot. USB 1.1 slots cannot be updated with firmware, so you'll need to find a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 slot to get faster data transfer speeds.

    My memory card does not fit in the reader. If there are multiple memory card slots in the reader, make sure the slot in use matches the memory card. Also, make sure you insert the memory card correctly; with most readers, the label should be facing up as you insert the card. Finally, it is also possible that the reader is not compatible with your type of card.

    My memory card does not seem to work after using it in the reader. First, make sure that the reader has not left any dirt on the metal connectors of the memory card which could affect the performance of the card. Also, make sure the connectors are not scratched or damaged. Finally, the memory card may have been damaged. If you unplugged the memory card reader while the memory card was being read, causing a loss of electricity, it is possible that the card is damaged. You should be able to fix the problem by formatting the card, which will (sadly) cause all data on the card to be erased.

    No power to the memory card reader. If you are using an external memory card reader with your computer, you will need power through the USB connection. Some USB ports on your computer may not carry enough electrical current to power the memory card reader, so the reader will not work. Try a different USB port on your computer to find one that can deliver the right level of power.

    Check the cable. Another potential reason your memory card reader may not work is because the USB cable you are using to connect the reader to your computer may be broken internally, preventing it from working. Try replacing the cable with another drive to see if the old cable is causing the problem with the memory card reader.


    Formatting an SD or micro SD card will remove all of its content and somehow restore it to its original state. However, there are format settings that can affect which devices can read the SD card. You may have formatted the SD card to work on a computer and not a smartphone, for example.

    Read also: The Complete Guide to Solid State Memory Drives [SSD]

    To make a card readable on your favorite device, you'll need to reformat it again. However, please note that doing so will erase all files that are currently on your SD card. Formatting should only be done if you are comfortable with losing all data. Otherwise, you are forced to use data recovery software.

    Hopefully, one of the tips above helped you recover your SD card. If nothing worked, there may be a problem with the SD card itself. Try the reader on different computers and devices and if none of them can read it then you may need to use third party data recovery software to extract data from SD card.

    Further Reading:

    • New microSD Express cards, as fast as an SSD
    • How to fix SD card not detected
    • WiFi does not work on Windows 11, what to do
    • SanDisk and Micron announce the first 1TB microSD cards
    • How to fix camera problems on Huawei / Honor devices
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