In this guide on how to format a memory cardI'm going to teach you how to solve problems and format an SD or micro SD. Following these steps, you will see that it is very easy to format a card from Windows like a professional.

Before you use a memory card (or to troubleshoot problems with it), you should probably format it to make it more suitable for your device, since, for example, it is not the same format an SD for Raspberrywhat format an SD for Android, format an SD for Nintendo Switch, either format an SD for GoPro.

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    Guide to format memory cards

    💡 IMPORTANT: remember that formatting a memory card deletes the data on it, so Make sure to backup your SD card files (such as photos or videos) before formatting!

    Depending on the size of the files that we are going to handle and the size of the card, we must give it one type of format or another. On many occasions, who will determine the type of format will be the limitations of the device itself. Let's take a look at it a little more in depth.

    SD card reader

    First of all, to format a memory card you need a card reader.

    Most modern computers all have a card reader, at least for SD cards. Integrated readers are usually USB 2.0 and this type of reader causes a "bottleneck". Transfers are slow because the readers are slower than the cards themselves.

    If you are going to use your SD for photography or one micro SD for 4K videothe files you are going to store are very large, so transferring them to the computer is going to be a waste of time with USB 2.0.

    The best SD card readers

    Whether you don't have a card reader or a USB 2.0, I advise you buy a USB 3.0 card reader to copy large amounts of data, as transfers will be much faster. These are some of the best cheap card readers on Amazon 👇🏼

    How to format an SD memory card in Windows?

    Let's go to the mess! Format a memory card in Windows It is very simple. You just need a card reader and follow a few simple steps. The truth is that the years have passed, and the procedure has not changed much.

    format-memory-card-disk-windows

    This is the fastest simple way to format an SD in Windows.

    Format your memory card in 7 easy steps

    1️⃣ insert your card in the reader

    format-the-sd-card

    2️⃣ Open the File Browser clicking on the taskbar

    format-memory-card-windows

    or by clicking with the right mouse button on the button icon Windows startupthen a menu will open where you will find File Browser

    how-to-format-memory-card-windows-explorer

    3️⃣ When the file manageryou must click on This team located in the left bar.

    format-sd-with-windows

    Here you will see your user folders and connected drives.

    format-microsd-with-windows

    4️⃣ Right-click on the icon or drive letter of your memory card and select Format

    how-to-format-sd-card

    5️⃣ The utility for formatting drives has been opened. At this time you must choose the type of format by clicking on File System. When you click, a menu is displayed with the following options:

    • NTFS is he windows default format and it only works under this operating system
    • FAT32 it is an older format and the most compatible. Works with both Windows and Mac computers. Format to FAT32 has a problem, the maximum capacity of a disk formatted in FAT32 is 2TB, and the files cannot be larger than 4GB. You will have already deduced that it is not the most suitable format for recording video, since when the video reaches 4 GB it reaches its limit and the recording stops.
    • exFAT It is currently the most recommended format. It is compatible with Windows and Mac, and has no storage limit. It actually does, but the file size limit on this system is in the 16 Exabytesthat is, 16 million TB, a real outrage.

    how-to-format-sd-card

    As a general rule, if the capacity of your SD card is less than 64 GB, you can select as the file system NTFS or FAT32 (taking into account its limitations). Instead, if the SD card is 64GB or more, please set the file system to exFAT.

    The allocation unit size you can leave it default to Default allocation size so as not to complicate yourself too much.

    6️⃣ Select ✔ Quick Format to do a simple format. If you uncheck this box, the operating system will do low-level format, that is, it fills all the sectors of the disk or SD card with 0 and leaves it at the factory. It is a MUCH longer process and is often used to repair and re-align bad sectors on hard drives. It doesn't make much sense to use it on a card, unless we want to securely delete the data (and there are even better options for this).

    7️⃣ Finally click on Start and accept the warning to start format SD card.

    Once the process is finished, the card will be formatted, cleaned and ready to use in your device.

    How to format a write protected memory card?

    When you try to format an SD card, you might get errors like the typical write-protected memory cardeither read-only memory card.

    If you are formatting an SD, you should look at its upper left part. Most cards have a small tab on this side that you can move up or down.

    If the card is write-protected/read-only, try moving this tab to the opposite position (ie if it's up, move it down; if it's down, move it up). Normally if the tab is facing up (near the connectors) it is in write mode. If the tab is down, it is usually write-protected.

    If you have changed the tab position and it is still write-protected (or if your card is a micro SD or an SD that has no tab at all) follow these steps:

    💡 IMPORTANT: Using DiskPart in the Windows console is not complicated, but if you do it wrong you can cause damage to some partition or system disk. Follow the steps as I indicate

    1️⃣ Open the Windows console

    Right-click on the Windows Start menu and select Command Prompt (Admin) or if it is available it is also useful to open Windows PowerShell (Admin) in Windows 10.

    If you are using a version earlier than Windows 10 and want to format an SD card in Windows 8 or Windows 7, you should follow the first step and select Symbol of the system with the right button and open it with the option Execute as an administrator.

    If you have already opened the Windows console, these are the commands that you must enter:

    Scribe diskpart in the Command Prompt window and press enter.

    format-sd-card-with-windows-diskpart

    A list will appear with all the drives available on the computer. Find the disk number that matches the size of the SD card.

    Type the list of disks and press Enter.
    Type the selected disk number (where # is the disk number for the SD card) and press Enter.

    Select the disk number for the SD card.
    Type attribute disk clear readonly and press Enter.

    Type clear readonly disk from attributes and press Enter.
    Type clean clean and press Enter.

    Type clean and press Enter.
    When the process is done, type exit and hit Enter, then close the command window and format the SD card using File Explorer as above.

    When the process is complete, type exit and press Enter, and then close Command Prompt.

    Format a memory card with SD Formatter

    Another way to format memory cards is by using third party software like SD Formatter.

    SD Card Formatter It is a simple and very intuitive application. This tool is free, is developed by the SD Association (the association that regulates standards for the SD card industry), and is ideal for formatting SD and micro SD cards.

    💾 SD Memory Card Formatter: Format your memory cards

    When there are incompatibility issues with the file systems of operating systems like Mac OS, Windows, or Android, formatting a card is usually the way to fix it, although this almost certainly means losing data on the card.

    SD Formatter 5.0.1

    My advice is that, to avoid problems, download SD Formatter from its official website, since they keep it constantly updated. I leave the links in the table below. The most current version of the program is 5.0.1 and it is compatible with the following operating systems:

    Windows Windows 7 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 8 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 8.1 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 10 Version 1511 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 10 Version 1607 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 10 Version 1703 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 10 Version 1709 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 10 Version 1803 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 10 Version 1809 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 10 Version 1903 (32/64-bit)
    Windows 10 Version 1909 (32/64-bit)
    Mac Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
    Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks
    Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
    Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan
    macOS 10.12 Sierra
    macOS 10.13 High SierramacOS 10.14 Mojave
    macOS 10.15 Catalina

    The application is not yet compatible with SD Express memory cards, but it will surely be as soon as they are released.

    How to use SD Formatter: user manual

    Once the program is downloaded, installed and opened, you only have to follow a few steps to format your SD card with SD Formatter.

    1️⃣ Choose the drive of the card to format

    The first thing you see when you open SD Formatter is a field called Select card. The drives available on your computer will appear in this list.

    Format memory cards

    If you connected your memory card before opening SD Formatter, as a general rule, the application detects the type of available drives and selects the SD card automatically. If not, you just have to tell it which memory card you want to format.

    Hard drive partitions are not displayed, so it is unlikely to get confused and select the wrong drive. However, check the drive letter and make sure it is correct, especially if you have other devices connected.

    If you inserted the SD card into the reader after starting the app, the drive may not appear in the list. In that case, press the Refresh button so that it shows all the units again.

    The blue logo in the main window indicates that the card has been successfully connected.

    2️⃣ Format Options

    The next step is to choose the type of format that we are going to give the memory card. The app gives you the option to use two types of formatting:

    SD Formatter Interface

    • Quickformat is the quick format. With this option the program formats the data table, the files and folders are marked as inaccessible for writing, but the format itself does not affect the data in the files and it should be possible to recover them with some software.
    • overwrite format is the full or low-level format. With this option SD Formatter erases everything, including the data written on the card. Data recovery in this case is more complicated, but it is often useful to repair bad sectors.

    volume label

    This is an optional field. It is used to give the card a name and to appear next to the drive letter.

    3️⃣ Apply formatting

    To accept the configuration and start formatting, all that remains is to click on Format

    When it finishes formatting an SD card you will be able to see a small summary information about the file system, the total space and the size of the card.

    I'll leave you here a little explanatory video of the use and SD Formatter download link: https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter/index.html