Software & Apps Windows 138 138 people found this article helpful How to Format an SD Card on Windows Wipe an SD card with a Windows PC by Gary Newell Writer Gary Newell was a freelance contributor, application developer, and software tester with 20+ years in IT, working on Linux, UNIX, and Windows. our editorial process Gary Newell Updated on July 07, 2020 reviewed by Ryan Perian Lifewire Tech Review Board Member Ryan Perian is a certified IT specialist who holds numerous IT certifications and has 12+ years' experience working in the IT industry support and management positions. our review board Article reviewed on Apr 08, 2020 Ryan Perian Windows The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide Tweet Share Email What to Know Before you put an old SD Card in your new smartphone or camera, you should wipe the data on the card by formatting it.If your computer doesn't have an SD card slot, you will need to use an SD card reader that can plug into a USB port.To get started, open File Explorer and locate the drive letter for your SD card. Right-click the drive, select Format and follow the steps. Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, 8, and 7. What You Need to Format an SD Card Most modern computers have an SD card slot somewhere on the side of the computer. SD cards come in different sizes, so you may need an adapter if you have a micro SD card. No SD card slot? Use an SD card reader that can plug into a USB port. You can also format an SD card on a Mac. How to Format an SD Card on Windows To format an SD card on a Windows PC: Insert the SD card into your computer. Open File Explorer and locate the drive letter for your SD card. Right-click the drive and select Format. If the Capacity of your SD card is less than 64 GB, set the File System to FAT32. If it's 64 GB or higher, set the File System to exFAT. Select Start to begin. You can give the formatted drive a name by entering it into the Volume label. Select OK to ignore the warning that all of the data on the drive will be erased and begin formatting the card. Format Write-Protected SD Cards on Windows Sometimes when attempting to format an SD card, you will receive an error saying that it is write-protected, or read-only. Most cards have a little tab on the edge that you can move up or down. If your card is write-protected/read-only, move the tab to the opposite position (i.e. if it's up, move it down; if it's down, move it up). If the drive is still write-protected, or if there is no tab, follow these instructions: If there is a physical tab on the SD card, then this process overrides the above instructions, and you'll need to amend the position of the tab to turn read-only on and off. Right-click the Start menu and select Windows PowerShell (Admin) on Windows 10 or Command Prompt (Admin) on Windows 8. If you are using Windows 7 or earlier, select the Start menu, right-click Command Prompt, and select Run as administrator. You may need to navigate through the menus to find the Command Prompt icon. Type diskpart in the Command Prompt window and press Enter. Type list disk and press Enter. A list of all the available disks on your computer will appear. Look for the disk number that resembles the size of the SD card. Type select disk # (where # is the number of the disk for the SD card) and press Enter. Type attributes disk clear readonly and press Enter. Type clean and press Enter. When the process is complete, type exit and press Enter, then close the Command Prompt and format the SD card using File Explorer as outlined above. How to Tell if an SD Card is Partitioned If you've installed a version of Linux to your SD card for use on a single board computer, such as a Raspberry Pi, then the card has likely been partitioned so that it can boot correctly into Linux. Before you can re-purpose that SD card for other uses, you must remove the partition. To determine if your SD card has a partition, right-click the Start menu and select Disk Management. If using Windows 7 or earlier, click the Start menu and type diskmgmt.msc in the search box to find the Disk Management tool. Beside the disk number for your SD card, you may see a number of partitions. Usually, the first partition will be named unallocated. If this is the only partition listed, then the instructions above should work. If there are multiple partitions, they must be removed before you can format the card. Remove Partitions From an SD Card on Windows To format the SD card so that it is one continuous partition: Right-click the Start menu and select Windows PowerShell (Admin) on Windows 10 or Command Prompt (Admin) on Windows 8. If you are using Windows 7 or earlier, select the Start menu, right-click Command Prompt, and select Run as administrator. You may need to navigate through the menus to find the Command Prompt icon. Type diskpart in the Command Prompt window and press Enter. Type list disk and press Enter. Find the disk number that matches your SD card (it should be the same size). Type select disk # (where # is the number of the disk for the SD card) and press Enter. Type list partition and press Enter. Type select partition 1 and press Enter. Type delete partition and press Enter. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until there are no more partitions As soon as you delete the first partition, the next one will become partition 1, so it will always be partition 1 that you delete. Type create partition primary and press Enter. Once the process is complete, you can close the Command Prompt and format the SD card as normal.