Memory Card not Recognized – Common Memory Card Error Fix (1)

This post was updated on June 21, 2016 (with a few more up-to-update resourced added)

There are plenty of reasons that may lead to the memory card not recognized error. I categorize these causes into two categories: card not recognized by the computer, card not read by your external digital media (such as cell phone, camera etc). And then I'll show you how to fix different kinds of errors errors.

Note: if your memory card is showing card locked error, see this post for solution. Also, this softwarehow guide is worth further exploring.

Memory card cannot be recognized by my computer…

Symptoms 1: the card is working fine on the cell phone but when using a card reader to connect it to my computer, won't be detected.

How to Fix: the problem should be the card reader, you have two options. One is to change a new card reader and reconnect it to the computer; The other is to directly connect your cell phone to your computer via a USB cable.

Symptoms 2: have a digital camera (with memory card inside), you try to connect it to your computer via a USB cable. Nothing detected (neither the camera nor the memory card).
How to Fix: Try taking the memory card out of your camera and loading it into a card reader, then insert the card reader to your computer. See if it will be detected.

Symptoms 3: my memory card is corrupted (not read properly when connected to my computer), how can I recover the data saved on it?
How to Fix: first of all, use a data recovery program to recover data as much as possible. Freeware such as Pandora Recovery or Recuva works great in my testing. If you are using a Mac, turn to this post for a list of 100% free Mac data recovery software. After you recover the data, then format the card.

Symptoms 4: when plug the memory card into my computer, it shows "the drive is not formatted, do you want to format it now".
How to Fix: there are many possible reasons for this, see this post fix format error disk in drive are not formatted for more. Most of the time, using this freeware called HP USB Disk Formatting Tool would help.

Memory card not recognized by my cell phone or camera…

Symptoms 1: my SD card is new and works fine when connected with my computer, but when insert into my digital camera it cannot be detected. Nor can I access media files from the card.
How to Fix: Since there is no problem with either the card or your digital camera, I'd suggest you read the user manual of your digital camera and read the information about supported SD memory card, pay attention to the maximum SD card volume part as usually the camera manufacturer has a volume limitation to supported external SD card. For example, if it clams only SD card with 2GB maximum space are allowed. If your new SD card is 4 GB or larger, then your digital camera won’t be compatible with it. The only way is to change another card less than 2GB and transfer the files on the previous card to the newer one.

Symptoms 2: insert the memory card to my cellphone but the phone refuses to read it.
How to Fix: you must be using an old phone or old types of phone, try power off the phone and restart again. Usually the card will be detected again.

Symptoms 3: formatted the memory card on my computer and then put it in my cellphone, it won't let me to access.
How to Fix: your cell phone may not be compatible with your memory card file system (FAT, e.g.). Better reformat the card via your cellphone by using its own format function. Then you should be able to re-access it again.

There should be more "memory card not recognized" problems out there, if you accidentally meet similar ones or have new situations and this post didn't help you out. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

Why & How Deleted or Formatted Files Can Be Recovered

Are you used to use the following methods to get rid of files unwanted? Drag them to the Recycle Bin or Trash and empty the bin, Shift + Delele (Command + Delete if you are running Mac OS X) or format the drive directly etc. Do you think the methods will permanenlty erase the data? The answer is negative. Before answering why those deleted or formatted data can be recovered, let’s learn something about how files are stored on the disk.

How files are stored?

No matter you are using computer with a hard drive (usually formatted as NTFS file system or HFS+ file system if you are Mac users) or removable drive (usually formatted as FAT file system) such as memory card or usb drive, those are called storage media. When you save a file to a specific place, the data contained in the file will be saved to the relevant sectors of the storage media. The file system is used to organize how the data will be stored (such as what sectors they will locate) and record the file attributes. Each file or folder on the disk has its own assigned attributes, such as Archive, Hidden, System, Size and so on. For example a file having hidden attribute isn't displayed in Windows Explorer view.

What happen when you delete a file…

When a file is deleted from your computer it is not really deleted. It is simply removed from the directory of files in the folder. Even though you can no longer see the file in the folder, its contents still exist 100% intact at this point. If you're using Windows the file will be moved to the Recycle Bin. If you're a Mac user, it will go to the Trash. As long as a file remains there it can easily be restored in its entirety with no difficulty. So the first thing to do is check the Recycle Bin or Trash. And use the Restore option to make it alive again.

When you empty the Recycle Bin or Shift + Del…

When you empty the Recycle Bin (or Trash) or delete a file using another method (such as Shift + Delete or Command +Delete), the file is still not deleted. Only the file attributes are marked as delete and the space occupied by the file becomes available for re-use by other files. And usually won’t get reused right away depending on how frequently new data are writted.

When you format a drive…

There are two kinds of format: low-level format and high-level format (also called quick format or full format). Generally speaking we regards format as high-level format for low-level format can only be executed after manufactoring. Low-level format will completely wipe everything on the drive while high-level format will only remove those file attibutes, which means the data are still intact there on the drive.

Why and how the deleted files can be recovered?

As long as real data contained in the files remain intact (not overwritten), it is almost certain possible to get those deleted or formatted files recovered. Data recovery software understands the internals of the system used to store files on a disk (the file system) and uses this knowledge to locate the disk space that was occupied by a deleted file. If you are running computer with Windows, Recuva or Pandora Recovery is the program that I recommended. For Mac users, see these totally free Mac file recovery programs.

When the files are overwritten…

When the files are overwritten (space get reused by other files), it is almost impossible to bring them back with data recovery tools. The only option is to send the device which contains your lost files to a technical data recovery company and see if they have any special means to do data recovery. It’s been said IBM ever successfully recovered data overwritten 7 times. So do your best to avoid data overwritten. Do not save more files to the drive where your deleted or formatted, do not modify data, do not damage the drive etc. Better put the drive in a safe place if you want to maximize chances of file recovery.

Fix Format Error: Disk in Drive Is not Formatted Want to Format now?

If you accidentally encountered this kind of formatting error "The disk in drive is not formatted, do you want to format it now?" Do not format it right away! More similar situations can be seen here and there, I was wandering on several Internet communities.

“When I connected Canon digital camera SD memory card to the computer via a card reader, Windows detected the memory card and showed as Removable Drive under My Computer. But when I try to access the drive, it said ‘the drive is not formatted, would you like to format it now?’ I have plenty of precious photos and video chips insides the card. How could I get them out before formatting the card?” – by Daniel 

“I have a D drive and every time i try to access a folder in that drive it keeps saying ‘Drive not formatted, do you want to format it now?’ But another partition under that drive works fine. I don't want to format it because I need the files. The drive also acts really slowly on any of the other files I click on. How to fix the problem and make my folder become alive?” – by Rose 
“My Western Digital external hard drive recently didn’t let me view the data insides. Windows sometimes won’t recognize it well thus each time I try to open it says disk in drive not formatted error. I followed it but very wired it won’t let it format. Any way to fix the error?” - by Jack

It seems this kind of problems happen more often on removable devices such as a pen drive, SD memory card, external hard drive, etc. It says you have to format the disk and but it won't let you format it. Instead, it shows you some weird errors. 

What are possible "culprits"?

  • The device is too old and may be corrupted after it shows its age. As you know like any other old technology, an external storage device has its own lifespan. And you never know when it's going to retire.
  • There are bad sectors in the specific area of the disk that is required for a file system, e.g. for a boot sector or the FAT table sector. Since the drive obviously can be fully accessed, Windows refuses to format it.  
  • Sometimes, you cannot format the drive to the FAT file system if it has been formatted to another file system which is not recognized by Windows.
  • Some incompatibilities in the drivers or BIOS result in such an error. It makes sense to try to format the drive on another computer. In most cases, the incompatibility problem only concerns the format procedure. Once the drive is formatted, it would work fine.

Solution to fix the format error

Step 1. Try the problematic hard drive or external removable media on another computer. See if the device can be accessed normally. This way helps clear the buffers and eliminates incompatibility issues. Sometimes the error disappears and you disk drive works normally again.

Step 2. If step 1 doesn't help. Try recovering the data with some free data recovery programs first. If you are under Windows, you can use PhotoRec, RECUVA, or Pandora Recovery. For Apple Mac OS, turn to the posting free Mac file rescue software I wrote earlier.

Step 3. After your files are recovered, follow those steps to try formatting the drive (if you are using a memory card or flash drive, connect it to your PC first). Go to My computer -> Properties -> Manage -> Computer Management -> Storage -> Disk Management -> select the problematic drive and then format it here. If this won't help, use this third-party HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool to format. It should work.

Step 4. It’s not over. If step 2 doesn't recover all of your lost files. Now you should try to re-use the data recovery software recommended to re-scan the disk to see if you can rescue more data. Note: a quick format won't erase the data permanently, learn more from this article for why.

That's all what I want to share. Do you find the solution? Will the message "The drive is not formatted, do you want to format it now" still appears? Or any new problems? Let me know, leave a comment below.

Copy Machine Security Risk: How to Prevent Your Personal Info Being Eaten

Information technology brings us huge security risk as well as great convenience. Never underestimate digital devices around you. The copy machine is no exception. It makes it easier to give away your personal information than PC and sometimes for free. I am not kidding. Those security risk posed by the copier should never be ignored.

Copy Machine Security Risk

Watch this video about the security issue first.

Confirmed The Security Risk - My Personal Experience

In order to confirm some facts as shown in CBS News, I came to a print shop nearby. Customers of the shop are mainly students from a university. During the conversation with the service person, I talked about the copy machine security topic intentionally to gauge if she knows something about it. At the beginning she was very open to talk about that and even showed some curiosity about where I heard about the news. But later with the topic went deep to the technical layer (such as the hard drive insides the copier), she became kind of cautious. From her implication, I’d better not let too many people know about the risk. Obviously, she was concerned about her business. The more students know the machine risk, the more risk the shop’s business is put in. Her concern is quite reasonable as her income relies heavily on paper copying or printing (such as students’ CV, activity materials etc.)

The Results:
1. It's true that nearly every copy machine is equipped with a hard drive like a computer does.
2. Also every copy or print paper is recorded as an image and stored in the hard drive. And the images can be exported and duplicated without needing the original papers. It means the students’ personal info insides the resumes can be leaked out.
3. Even if you command delete button through the copier to erase those copying records, they can be recovered with data recovery technology.
4. Most disappointed to hear that nearly 90% of the students know nothing about the security risk or copy machine hard drive issue. A survey held by SHARP in 2008 indicated that 60% of Americans don’t know that copiers store images on hard drives.

How Prevent Your Private Information

Now that you have known the copy machines are with high security risk, here are several tips that may help you protect your privacy as most as possible.

1. If possible take good control of your source papers. Better not print or copy those containing highly-private info on machines that you can’t control (such as outside copy or print shop etc.).
2. If you are in a company, take good care of the copier and don’t let unauthorized persons to access the attached hard drive.
3. Better stay away from leased or used copy machines. Do not sell or buy second-hand ones from or to anyone in case you get legal problems.
4. If you really have to give away the copy machines, wipe the hard drive data permanently.