Formatting the SD Card

SD card formatting

by Alex Gustman

Updated: May 11, 2021

We recommend that you format the memory card before using it or if there are problems. How to format the SD card in your phone and on your PC, and this article will let you know the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Important! When formatting, all information is deleted and most of the data is not recoverable. Therefore, save all important files before formatting.

Why format the drive?

Formatting is used to prepare the drive for operation or to troubleshoot problems. If the SD card is new, the formatting will allow you to create a new layout of the file system table, sometimes select the appropriate file system. For previously used drives, formatting will allow you to recreate the file system table, restore or hide unreadable corrupted memory cells.

The same formatting of the SD memory card is used:

  • to completely delete information without the possibility of recovery;
  • to configure the file system;
  • recovery after crashes or viruses, when the drive does not allow you to read or write information;
  • to create multiple local partitions, or to merge partitions into a single disk.

Ways to format the SD card

There are usually three types of formatting used:

  1. By standard means of your phone or tablet.
  2. Using a computer.
  3. Through third-party programs.

Each method offers a different level of convenience and a specific set of features. Next, we will consider each method in more detail.

Method 1: formatting by standard means

It is the easiest and most affordable way to format an SD card. It does not require additional hardware or a PC. All actions are performed directly by the smartphone or tablet.


1. Open the settings section

2. Select the Memory or Storage Drives


3. Select the memory card

memory card

4. Open the drop-down list

hidden menu

5. Next, select the Memory

storage settings

6. Then select the format function

function formatting

7. In a new window, confirm the action

memory format confirmation
formatting in progress

Starting with Android 6.0, after formatting, the system can offer two options for using the drive: as a removable disk or as a shared drive. In the first case, the SD card is used as a removable storage device. In the second, the internal memory is combined with the external memory, which allows you to compensate for the lack of internal space.

data transfer
memory card ready

If the card needs formatting, the system prompts you to perform this action immediately after the drive is detected. As a rule, when the card is hot-installed.


The method is convenient because formatting does not require removing the card from a mobile device, nor does it require a computer or card reader. And thanks to the simplicity of the method, even a novice user can easily cope with formatting.


The built-in formatting function is limited in its capabilities. You cannot select the file system type, or split or merge local disks. Often, during the formatting process, there is a failure, which does not allow you to clear and restore the memory card.

Method 2: formatting using a computer

This method requires a computer, a card reader, and an optional drive adapter.


Install the SD drive in the card reader (card reader) connected to the computer. If there is no suitable slot, use a microSD to SD adapter.

In the My Computer section, right-click on the Removable Disk drive detected by the system and select the Format option.

To quickly clear the data, specify the Clear Table of Contents. For full formatting, uncheck the Clear Table of Contents option.

Specify the file system type or leave all the default settings.

Confirm the start of formatting if you are sure that all the important data from the memory card has been copied and saved.

Wait for it to finish; the process can last from a few minutes with a quick clean and up to several hours with a full one.

When the process is completed successfully, a window appears:


Formatting the SD card via the computer allows you to select a file system. It is also less likely to cause errors in the formatting process.


Formatting requires a computer and a card reader. Additionally, there are some limitations when working with the drive. For example, you can’t work with additional partitions, delete or add an additional partition.

Method 3: formatting by third-party programs

To format the memory card, you will need a computer, a card reader, and an optional microSD adapter. At the same time, specialized programs are used to work with the drive: MiniTool Partition Wizard, SD Formatter, EzRecover, etc.

SD Memory Card Formatter
SD Memory Card Formatter.

The principle of operation in the programs is relatively the same, only the formatting and maintenance capabilities of the drive differ low-level formatting, complete data deletion without the possibility of recovery, recovery from software failures, etc.


Programs allow you to perform several types of formatting, restore data, or resume the operation of the drive. The utilities also offer to select and configure the file system type, set the size of the drive, etc.


Some programs are limited in their capabilities, are distributed on a paid basis, or work only with certain types of storage devices. Most programs only support English localization. Also, do not forget about the need for a computer and a high-quality card reader.


How do I format the SD card on android?

In the settings of your android device, select the memory section. Next, select the drive and click Format Drive in the Hidden Actions menu.

How to format SD card as fat?

Connect the drive to your computer, open the media properties, and specify the file system type in the format section.

How to format an sd-card for a camera?

Insert the memory card into the camera and select the format option. Alternatively, the camera prompts you to format it after inserting the memory card.

How to format SD card without losing data?

Pre-save the data to another source, and then transfer it back after formatting.

How do I format my android sd-card in fat32 or NTFS?

Connect the device to your computer in data transfer mode. Open the SD card and save the data. Select formatting and specify the file system type.

Does formatting SD card delete everything?

Yes. In this case, the data is often recoverable, because usually the file cells are not erased, but marked as “writable”.

How to format a new SD card?

Insert the memory card into the device; if necessary, the system prompts you to format the card with the desired parameters.

What does format SD card mean on android?

Erase all data from the drive and prepare the card for use in the device.

Will formatting SD card delete photos?

Yes, all the data will be taken away.

Formatting SD card stuck at 20%

Additional time may be required for formatting. Wait 30 minutes, then abort the operation and format again.

Why formatting SD card?

To prepare for work in the mobile device, to quickly delete files, sometimes to restore the card to work.


Here we’ve described how to format an SD card. Every of the three described ways has its cons and pros. Please, ask questions and write comments below.

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About the author 

Alex Gustman

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