How to Recover Data from SD Card

There are many reasons you might be striving to recover data from an SD card. Perhaps you intentionally deleted files, but realized you needed them after all.

On the other hand, maybe a virus infected the card and wiped out its contents (in which case, the antivirus protection in iolo’s System Mechanic Ultimate Defense software could prevent such a disaster from arising again).

Other possibilities include that you accidentally reformatted the SD card, or it simply became corrupted — perhaps due to you:

  • Failing to properly eject the card before detaching it from its reader
  • Attempting to use the SD card with an incompatible device
  • Using a cut-price SD card that did not have any brand name on it

Fortunately, in many cases, you would be able to recover the lost data on the SD card itself or instead by finding a copy of that data saved elsewhere. Here are several methods you could try to get it all back…

Look in Windows File History

On a Windows computer, the Recycle Bin is often the first place you should look for a deleted file. However, when you delete a file on an SD card, sadly it does not send the file to the Recycle Bin of the computer it’s connected to.

If you are on Windows 10 or 11, you could still check the native backup utility Windows File History. This can be set up in advance to back up files handled on the computer — including data transferred from it to an SD card.

On the Start menu, search for File History and then open it. On the subsequent window, click ‘Restore personal files’ before clicking through to where File History would hold backup copies of the lost data.

If you do see it there, select it — and, finally, right-click the green Restore button.

Search for a Cloud Backup

Many Android smartphones come with SD card slots, and as a result they can be easily used for transferring files to and from these handsets. As Android is a Google-made operating system, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it is seamlessly integrated with Google-made cloud storage solutions, such as Google Drive and Google Photos.

If you’re looking to recover files from the SD card on your phone, it might be worth checking your cloud backup, where you might find and be able to retrieve saved copies of the data you have lost.

Install and Use Windows File Recovery

Windows File Recovery might have a similar name to Windows File History, but it’s a very different data recovery beast.

For a start, it isn’t built into the operating system; instead, it’s a separate app to download (thankfully for free) via the Microsoft Store.

This app can scan SD cards for ‘deleted’ files that actually remain tucked away on it, that may be temporarily stored on the card.

Now, there’s also some bad news: Windows File Recovery is a command-line utility. In other words, using it to recover data on an SD card will require you to do a lot of typing; it’s not exactly the most user-friendly software.

Try Accessing the SD Card with Another Device

If your Windows computer has its own built-in SD card reader, it can feel wonderfully convenient for you to be able to simply plug an SD card straight into the computer and see the card’s contents pop up on the device’s screen.

However, at times your device may not be able to read or may not be compatible with the SD card. In such cases, you should try to connect the card with another device.

That device doesn’t have to be another computer. For example, you could reach for an Android smartphone or smart TV (as long as your chosen device comes with an SD card slot).

You might find that one of these devices can access — and, as a result, help you to recover data from — the SD card.

Leverage a Windows Disk Repair Tool

What if your Windows computer can detect your SD card but the latter isn’t showing files you thought were there? The card might have developed file system errors you would nonetheless be able to resolve within Windows itself.

Believe it or not, Windows has its own disk repair tool capable of automatically diagnosing and fixing an array of issues that often affect SD cards. You can find and use this disk repair tool by taking these steps:

  • Opening Windows Explorer
  • Selecting ‘This PC’ on the consequent window’s left panel
  • Finding — and right-clicking on — your SD card’s listing
  • Clicking ‘Properties’ on the menu that appears
  • Heading over to the Tools tab and hitting the ‘Check’ button
  • Selecting the ‘Scan’ option to repair the SD card

Keep in mind that you can still use the last of those steps to fix the SD card even if you get an on-screen notice beforehand telling you that no errors have been found on this card.

Use iolo’s Search and Recover

When a file surreptitiously vanishes from an SD card, the range of plausible causes can be vast. Perhaps you inadvertently clicked ‘Delete’ without realizing, or the computer crashed when you tried to save the file.

Fortunately, in instances like these and many others, data recovery software from a third-party source can help. One good case in point is iolo’s Search and Recover, which can rescue music, photos and much more from SD cards.

If you are curious about this software, you can purchase a year’s access to it — and have a 30-day money-back guarantee thrown into the deal.

Still have questions about any of our software offerings? You can get answers by ringing our team at (801) 523-6763.

Need a PC Mechanic?

Let our experts help you

LiveTech is our affordable, 24/7 premium technical support that can help you solve virtually any technology issue. Let our utility software experts help to remove malware; set up Amazon Echo/Alexa; optimize printers, modems, and routers; block browser popups and adware, and more.

Learn More

Available 24/7
People using laptop overhead view

What is iolo's Whole Home License?

The Whole Home License® is iolo’s licensing policy that allows you to install and keep your software running on all of your compatible devices within the same home. Previously, users were allowed to install and license their iolo software simultaneously on a maximum of three PCs. Under the Whole Home License, a single activation key allows you to use your iolo software on all of your PCs, other than any PCs you use for business purposes. What you need to know about Whole Home Licensing

  • You, your spouse, and your relatives living within the same household may use the same license on any number of PCs that you own which are not used for business.
  • For full legal terms and conditions, see

To install your iolo product on additional PCs:

  1. On the additional computer, download the latest version of your iolo product. Choose from the list of downloads offered here.
  2. Follow the steps in the installation wizard, and enter the same Activation Key that you used to install on your original computer.

You can view the Activation Key on the original computer from within System Mechanic > red menu bar > key icon > Activation Key.