A couple of days ago I received a new 32 GB SD card from Sandisk. Upon arrival, I flashed the Retropie 4.1 image for the Pi Zero onto it. I then put the card into my Pi, and plugged it in. Nothing. It would not boot.

I then took it out, and plugged it back into my laptop. The only thing Windows was able to discover was an unknown device, saying that it must be formatted to be used. Upon further inspection, I realized that Windows was seeing 32 MB of raw unallocated space.

I then tried some of the methods that I could find. A normal format does not work, diskpart does not work, and using SD Formatter 4 does not work. Upon doing some research, I realized that when you flash a Raspberry Pi OS onto a microSD card, it creates two partitions, one of which windows can't recognize, and the other Linux can (this however is weird, as in previous times where I flashed an OS, Windows saw two separate devices.

I figured this was because I was using a newer version of Retropie, and it somehow needed to be partitioned in a different way than older versions). So, I booted up Linux Mint on a Virtual Machine, and connected my card in hopes that using GParted I could format my card and start over. However, upon opening GParted and looking at the drive, I am greeted with what is shown below. As you can see, GParted only sees 32 MB device, instead of the two separate partitions which I was hoping to see. I could not interact with the space at all, as it said there was no partition table.

I then attempted to create a partition table, and it completes with no errors, but nothing is actually created. Am I screwed and I need to get a new card? Am I doing something stupid? I'm seriously at an absolute loss at what to do, and any help is greatly appreciated.

GParted Screen

  • 1
    This happened when I had a hairline crack in my 32GB microSD card. It showed up as 32.1 MB (30.6 MiB) in every card reader. The crack is usually invisible, but if you apply a little bending force, you'll see it.
    – Navin
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 9:43
  • I had the same issue. After flashing raspberry pi image onto Sandisk 32GB my Mac was able to see and operate on only 30,6 MB of storage. However, I fixed it by erasing the whole card with Raspberry Pi Imager (scroll to the bottom in Operation System chooser and pick "Erase"). After that you can reclaim the whole capacity in your usual tool of choice (given that your card is not physically damaged, of course).
    – anti1869
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 16:34
  • Use the Rspberry Pi Imager. Instead of selecting an OS, choose the option Format Disk. It will formar the disk again and your disk will show the correcr number again. Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 5:06

6 Answers 6


This happened to me once, several years ago. I installed on a new 8GiB card, and it failed in a couple of days and was unformattable.

I contacted Sandisk, and was advised to return the card, to be replaced under warranty. I gather this is a known, but rare, problem.

See Raspberry breaks SD card -> 31 MB RAW

  • 2
    I agree, it's probably a dead card.
    – Jacobm001
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 3:25
  • sigh That's what I was hoping I wouldn't have to hear. Alright, thank you! I'll let you guys know how it went in case anyone else here has the same problem. Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 3:12
  • 1
    I fixed mine using the "SD Memory Card Formatter" from the www.sdcard.org website. Give it a try! Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 14:33

I have the same issue that @thatoneguy245 and test my 32 GB sd card on windows and Unix with all solutions found on Google. But, after many many many pull push SD card from different devices.

I found the issue : the strength of the card was broken and micro power cuts broke the links and create circuit breakages. I only saw it after returning the SD card black side and pressing lightly on both sides. Transformation of the card into a double card ... but not from 32 GB to 64 GB. Fragility of the current cards hoping that they are not even finer in 10 years!

Nostalgia of the time of ZIP cards and others 3/4 formats...

Not fix or warranty for this, finally. broken sd card

  • Are you sure that is related to the question?
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 16:51
  • Perhaps not. Anyway, if user find this question, and not see that his sd card is broken actually, he continue to search computer solution instead of see electric problem due to this little first rift. I see this rift on this SD card only 2 days after search computer solutions on Google and found the same use case like this question, especially the showing 30 MB on a 32 GB SD card testing on Windows and several Unix OS. Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 19:54
  • 1
    I had exactly the same issue with a 16GB sandisk card - issue exactly as described, crack that was only noticeable with magnifying glass
    – Icy
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 18:30
  • 1
    And same here, as unlikely as it sounds! As soon as I read this, I pulled out my card and—yep, there's a crack! Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 18:17
  • I was sceptical that a physically cracked card would be detected at all, but yes, that was exactly it. 32MB "RAW" parition, diskpart clean doesn't help - there is a small crack.
    – EM0
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 11:54

I'm answering this because this was one of the first results on Google and I had the same problem.

Windows has great difficulty reading a SD card after the raspberry Pi installed files on it. My SD Card had 2 partitions, the first one only being 61 MB, the second one was 26 GB. Next to that, there was almost 1 GB unallocated.

Windows can only see the first partition, thus showing the card as 30/61 MB.

However, Windows Disk Management does recognize everything. Check it here:

Computer Management - Disk Management screenshot

This screenshot is from another site, but it shows the problem. In this case, Windows Explorer only shows a 56 MB SD card, while the SD card is 16 GB.

Start > type in "Create and format disk partitions"

Now, I wanted to completely reinstall Rapsbian, so what I did is the following:

  1. Delete the large middle partition
  2. Delete the small partition on the left
  3. Create a new simple partition

For me, the application recognized that there was 29 GB of unallocated space. I was able to make a new 29 GB partition. From there one, I started from scratch in installing Raspbian and Retropie.

  • A good answer, and one that not many people are aware of. In fact, if you use f3probe and f3fix in Linux, this is how f3 gets around dodgy SD cards that claim to be 32 GB when they are only 4 GB, etc.- by creating a FAT partition that matches the usable part of the SD card, while the (unusable) rest is "partitioned out". Commented Jan 14, 2021 at 16:00
  • 1
    Thank you from 2 years later <3
    – tora0515
    Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 8:13

I have same problem with an 16GB SD card of Samsung. After trying all the software solutions available on internet i moved onto hardware issues and figured out there is very small crack on the SD card that can not be observed easily. i observed it with flashlight.

SD Card Image

Its cause was the SD slot of raspberry pi. I put the PI in my backpack where he received some kind of force on it that resulted in crack. After this crack the SD Card shows on the windows disk Management as 13MB RAW Disk and noting else.

  • 3
    And what is the solution to the question?
    – Ingo
    Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 12:43
  • 1
    Please leave a specific answer. This can not be the answer Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 8:38
  • Actually I had the issue described in the question - a 16GB SD showing as 32MB in windows and not able to write - after being used in RPi 4 just once ! I looked at it with magnifying glass and found a crack just as described - so yes it could be the answer
    – Icy
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 18:26

Windows has a hard time with Linux partitions. If you have access to an android phone with an SD slot just pop it in and format it there. When finished try it out in you windows machine and see if you have it back.

  • Unfortunately, no I do not have an Android phone, so that isn't an option for me. Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 3:12

A simial thing happened to me with my 16 GB big SD card that'd only been used in a Raspberry Pi, but hadn't been used for over 2 years. My Windows laptop saw it as 42 MB and even a partitioning tool showed it as 42 MB.

I took it out, bent it a bit to check for cracks - found nothing. But, then I toggled the lock back and forth a couple of times and voila! it showed as 16 GB again!

I don't know if me switching between MBR/GPT a few times also helped, but the card is now usable again.

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