How to format your SD Card

There are times when you might need to wipe or 'format' your memory card. We take you through how to do it on a phone first, then on a PC.

Before you format your memory card, you should back up any files or information you want to keep.  Take a look at our article on backing up your smartphone memory for help with that.

To wipe your SD card, you have two basic options: you can use a computer, or you can use a phone.

If you're wiping your memory card through a computer, make sure to choose 'ExFAT' or 'FAT32'. If you're wiping the card in your phone, don't worry about that, the phone will sort it for you.

Formatting the Memory Card in your Phone

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Wiping your Android SD card

Every Android phone is a little different from the rest – but the Settings menus are mostly the same. The screenshots we're using are from a  Sony handsets, but the instructions will stay the same no matter which Android device you're using.

 
 
 
 
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1.

Open your Apps list and find the Settings icon, then tap on it.

2.

Scroll down the Settings list until you find Storage. Tap it to view information like how much storage space you have left, and what's taking up the most space on your smartphone.

3.

Scroll down to the bottom of the Storage list to see your SD card options. You'll see a few options, the one we need to press is either Erase SD card or Format SD card. The language may differ slightly between handsets.

4.

Confirm you want to wipe your memory card by pressing the Erase SD card or Format SD card button. This will wipe your memory card clean – but the internal storage of your phone will stay untouched.

Wiping your Windows Phone SD card

If you're having a problem with your memory card in a Windows Phone, have a look at these steps to find out how to clear the data and reset it back to normal.

 
 
 
 
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1.

From your Home screen, swipe your finger from right to left across the display to see the Start menu. Scroll down the menu and tap on Settings.

2.

Make sure you're in the System section, then scroll down the page until you find Storage Sense. Press on it to continue.

3.

Here you'll see bars representing how much storage space is taken up on your phone and on your SD card. Tap on the SD card option to view the SD card's settings.

4.

You'll now see two buttons, one for removing your SD card and one for formatting it. Tap Format SD card to erase all the data on it. Confirm you want to wipe your SD card by pressing Yes.

Format your SD Card through a PC

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If your phone can't detect your SD card no matter what you try, you may need to remove the card and plug it in to a computer. For information on how to remove the back of your phone and where your memory card lives, check out our Kit guides, which cover most phones.

You'll need an SD card adaptor or card reader to connect a microSD to a computer - some computers have card readers built in, and you can find USB versions that will fit any laptop or PC. Without one of these, your microSD card probably won't fit into your computer.

 

Formatting a memory card using a Windows PC

 
 
 
 
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1.

Connect your microSD to your computer using the appropriate adaptor.

2.

Open My Computer by clicking on the Start button and clicking Computer – or by holding down the Windows key and the letter E on your keyboard at the same time.

3.

Make sure you can see your hard drives in the main window of My Computer, as in the image above. If you can't see your drives, click on Computer from the left-hand menu.

4.

When you see your drives, you will see your SD card listed under Devices with removable storage. Right-click on your SD card to view the context menu.

5.

Click on Format... to view the formatting options.

6.

Make sure that the File System is set to FAT32, which is the default for Windows 7 and newer PCs. Some older versions of Windows may offer to use FAT, which is also OK – but the most important thing is not to use NTFS, as your phone will not recognise it.

7.

Tick the box next to Quick Format. This will limit the process to the barest essentials, making the whole process much faster.

8.

Finally, when you're ready, press the Start button and wait for the progress bar to fill up. When it's finished, remove your microSD card and plug it back in to your smartphone!

These steps should leave you with an SD card that's empty, formatted and ready for you to use however you like – but if you do have any problems our experts are here.

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