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Use ChkDsk to fix a corrupt memory card.


While ChkDsk is fairly benign, no repair utility is 100% safe. I am not responsible for any damage you do to your data or memory card by attempting to use ChkDsk or any other procedure on this webpage. If you are not sure of what you are doing, I highly recommend professional service.


Sooner or later, you are going to run across a corrupt memory card. It might be semi-functional, but you may not have all of your photos. There are many methods that can be used repair such a card - but one of the simplest is the built-in ChkDsk (Check Disk) utility that comes with every copy of Microsoft Windows.

What it does. ChkDsk will scan your memory card, looking for corruption, and most of the time - it will fix it. Typically, if you remove your memory card while the camera power is on, or the camera loses power when it is writing a photo to the memory card, the memory card can become corrupted. ChkDsk is great at repairing these issues. If you get the error "You Must Format your Memory Card", ChkDsk may fix the problem.

What it won't do is to repair a physically damaged card, or a card that you have erased the photos.

A couple reasons I like ChkDsk is that since it is part of Windows - it's free. And it generally is safe, as it won't usually make things worse. For this reason, it should be considered as a first thing to try when attempting to fix your memory card. If it fixes the problem... fine. If it doesn't, it probably did not hurt anything, and you will have to go to an advanced solution.

To use ChkDsk, simply open a CMD (Command Line) screen and enter the following information:


chkdsk e: /f


Where "e:" is the drive of your memory card, and the /f instructs ChkDsk to fix the drive. Note that the drive may be other than e: Watch the video below to determine the correct drive letter. After you depress "Enter", ChkDsk should scan the memory card and fix any problems it finds. If it does, see if your problem is fixed. If it doesn't, you will have to go to an advanced solution.





The type of filesystem is RAWif CHDSK reports the file system is RAW, it means it cannot identify the formatting of the memory card. RAW = Unidentifiable. If you get this message, your memory card is damaged beyond CHKDSK's ability to repair it.
Cannot open volume for direct accessThis is a Microsoft problem. Microsoft states the error "cannot open volume for direct access" error may come from either having a virus checker active (they suggest temporarily disabling the virus checker), or your computer is not up to date. If you don't have Microsoft updates enabled on your computer, you may need to run Update prior to using ChkDsk.
You do not have permission to run ChkDskYou must run ChkDsk as administrator. Either sign into Windows with an admin account, or right-click on the CMD.EXE icon and select "Run as Administrator".
You do not have sufficient privileges. You have to invoke this utility running in elevated mode. Same error as above, but different wording (different windows version).You must run ChkDsk as administrator. Either sign into Windows with an admin account, or right-click on the CMD.EXE icon and select "Run as Administrator".


Again, I must stress ChkDsk will not fix every problem with your memory card. But I have found that working with folks, it seems to fix problems about 75% of the time.

Best practices: To prevent memory card corruption in the future, follow these simple practices:

  • Never take photos after you have a low-battery warining from your camera.
  • Always turn the camera power off while inserting or removing a memory card.
  • Learn how to properly dismount a memory card from your computer.
  • Never manually upload photos to your memory card in an attempt to use your camera as a viewer.
  • Occasionally reformat your memory card in your camera. Some suggest doing this every time you use the card, but that is not necessary.
  • Do not use the memory card as permanent photo storage. Always upload photos to another device.

While memory cards are fairly robust, they do have a finite life... at some point, they will fail. By using these best practices, you can minimize any issues.


Still have questions?

        Microsoft ChkDsk reference        

Click on the ChkDsk reference above


Where to go from here?


If the Chkdsk prodedure does not work, you can attempt the following: