I was using a Raspberry PI 2 Model B, and I installed NOOBS. I selected and installed Raspbian, and I used my Pi for about 24 hours before I decided to re-install the OS. When I plugged in my micro SD card, I deleted all of the files inside. I'm not sure if this happened before or after I deleted the files, but my SD card was renamed "RECOVERY" and it went from 8GB to only 1GB storage. How can I fix my SD card?

NOTE: When I plugged the card into my mac, there were two Disks that were on my desktop, one of them was titled "BOOT", the other was titled "RECOVERY".


2 Answers 2


Simplified version: Raspbian partitions your SD card. The partition named RECOVERY is using the FAT file system. Also, it's usually the first partition. That's why you can open it up on Windows.

The BOOT partition is also using FAT but due to some weird Windows limitations, it can't see it since Raspbian makes a lot of partitions. Sometimes partitions beyond the fourth one won't show up on Windows. Macs don't have this problem since they're basically Linux and Linux is okay with it.

Your SD card didn't magically loose capacity. It's just being used by invisible partitions. It's also not broken, so don't "fix" it.

To restore your memory card to its former glory, reformat it on Windows since Windows is usually aware of the card's real capacity and usually deletes additional partitions.

If it doesn't delete the extra partitions, you can use SD Association's SD card formatter. (Link)

  • The sd card looks like 1GB because he is only looking at the two partitions, which together are 1GB. Also, there is no need to format it on Windows, as when Mac formats a card, it erases it first, this include all partitions, even corrupted ones in some cases. Feb 27, 2016 at 4:58
  • @PatrickCook and that.
    – Aloha
    Feb 27, 2016 at 6:56

This is because Raspbian uses multiple partitions. Two of those partitions are the BOOT and RECOVERY partition, those are not the ones that contain your files, like your home directory and your desktop. The partition that contains those is formatted in EXT4 which is not readable by macs (by default), so it doesn't show up on your mac, even though it is there.

If you run diskutil list on your mac with the sd card plugged in, you can see this extra partition. Here is my sd card running Raspbian Lite, so there is no RECOVERY partition:

/dev/disk2 (external, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:     FDisk_partition_scheme                        *15.9 GB    disk2
   1:             Windows_FAT_32 boot                    62.9 MB    disk2s1
   2:                      Linux                         15.9 GB    disk2s2

The "Windows_FAT_32" formatted partition is the BOOT partition, and the "Linux" (which is really EXT4) formatted partition is the main filesystem, you can see it takes up almost the full 16GB of the card.

To "fix" your sd card (even though there is nothing wrong with it) you will need to reformat it. Treat it as if it was brand new, like the first time you formatted it. If you're on Mac I'm assuming you either used the sd card formatter program that the RPi organization lists on their site, or diskutil on the command line. Here is the offical RPi documentation on formatting sd cards on Mac.

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