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Some time ago I installed Raspbian and Kali on two microSD-cards. It was also some time ago when I tried to format them - without success. I put them aside. Yesterday I thought I try again. I used a couple of tools suggested in previous posts on Stackexchange, and other sources on the internet. But no tool was able to format those cards to their initial state.

My microSD-cards:

  • Card #1: SanDisk Ultra 16GB Class 10
  • Card #2: Transcend Premium 32GB 300x Class 10

Both cards were flashed with the OS image by using Win32DiskImager.

I double (and triple) ensured that the cards are not in read-only state.


Used tools (without success):

  • Microsoft Windows Diskmgmt
  • Microsoft Windows DiskPart
  • SD Memory Card Formatter by the SD Association
  • Win32DiskImager
  • GParted
  • Canon EOS 550D
  • Canon IXUS 80IS
  • Etcher

Card #1

Shows up on Windows as drive that needs to be formatted. In Diskmgmt it is shown as 31MB RAW (no errors). There is no unassigned space or anything left. It really looks like just 31MB total space available. When I try to format it, it says "formatting wasn't finished without errors". Both cameras just see a faulty microSD-card and weren't able to vanish it either. DiskPart only works till I try to use create partition primary, which fails with "no free usable extensions [...]".

Card #2

Shows up on Windows as drive that needs to be formatted. Only the first partition with boot utilities is visible. In Diskmgmt it is show as 61MB FAT (no errors, primary partition), 6,78GB (no errors, primary partition) and 22,65GB (no assigned). I've been able to use the format function of my camera but afterwards all files are still there, untouched.

In both cases, I wasn't even able to fulfill the task by using gParted.


I am really at my wits' end. No program was able to reset the cards to their initial state or flash a new OS. Am I using all tutorials and posts on the Internet wrong or should those two microSD-cards go straight to trash?

I appreciate your help and advices!

  • in case you want to write an image to the SD cards (or a Paragon backup), make sure you only have 1 volume and 1 partition, and then format the sdcard (thus the enitre 16GB in case of Card#1 should be in one volume, delete all other volumes and partitions). – pieterdp Mar 28 '18 at 18:20
  • Card #1 has according to Diskmgmt, Diskpart and gParted no unassignd partitions. It shows up as a card with only 31MB. That's why I'm not sure if it's damaged or something completly wrong. – Fips Mar 28 '18 at 18:33
  • I have the same problem with one of my cards so you're not alone. I also tried all different tips found via Google without any succes. – ON5MF Jurgen Mar 29 '18 at 8:22
  • Out of curiosity I tried to dd the whole card with data from /dev/zero. It didn't change anything! It's like the card's immune against any change. Remember: read-only is NOT set. – Fips Mar 29 '18 at 11:20
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If they're damaged and will no longer format...I had two sandisk cards recently that were, goto the website and get an RMA assuming you have the receipt still. They replaced a whole bunch of media I had lying around that wouldn't work anymore. Took about two weeks.

  • Hello, I tried your approach and contacted SanDisk, as a courtesy they replace my 16GB MicroSD one time, but they also mentioned, that "normal" cards are note suitable for devices like videocameras or the RaspberryPi. They told me to buy "high endurance" cards in the future. Anyway, I got a new card, but I still don't know if it would have been possible to recover it by myself. But, a huge THANK YOU for this advice! – Fips May 21 '18 at 13:24
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  1. Combine these: Your SD Card + SD Card reader to USB + OTG Cable + Your Android phone.

2.1. When you see your SD Card is added on your mobile phone a pop up on notification bar located on the top, click on format/view.

2.2. If step 2.1. doesn't work, go to your folder viewer in your phone, and check the available volume of the capacity of your phone, you should see your SD Card with available volume.

  1. You may format your SD Card via using your phone.

This solution always helps me when I lend my SD to my friend. Source: https://www.instructables.com/id/Fix-Your-SD-Card-When-You-Plug-Out-From-Raspberry-/

  • Thank you for that instruction! Unfortunately I have no access to an Android smartphone, could anyone else try to verfiy that solution? – Fips Mar 31 '18 at 9:42
  • You may use Raspberry Pi, too! – Bay Apr 1 '18 at 12:07
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I have a couple of cards like this and they are irrecoverable. Hard disks have a tool but it doesn't work an SD cards. I would try diskpart again with select disk, then clear disk, then create partition primary, finally format disk quick. Of it doesn't work you are probably out of luck..

  • Whenever I tried diskpart it failed after the create partition primary command. But now it fails on card #2 with Sektoren auf Datenträger "\\?\PhysicalDrive1" können nicht auf null gesetzt werden. Fehlercode: 5@0101000F. Whenever one error disappers another one crosses my road. I'll follow that error code, maybe there's a solution. Thanks for your answer! – Fips Mar 31 '18 at 9:40
  • Sorry, I forgot [...] "now it fails after clean with" [...] – Fips Mar 31 '18 at 9:47
  • The problem is your card is now RAW. This means that there is no file system your os can use to locate files. There are some payed. Applications that might work for you, however the success of the results vary. I could only find one that fixes hard drives, unfortunately it doesn't work with SD cards. – Rohan Apr 3 '18 at 17:04

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