Fix: Computer Fails to Recognize SD Card

Most computers, especially laptop computers, come with internal SD card readers which you can insert SD cards into in order to be able to not only view the contents of the SD cards on your computer but also transfer data between the SD cards and the computers. Even if a computer does not have an internal SD card reader, you can simply purchase an external SD card reader which SD cards can be inserted into and which can then be plugged into a computer through a USB port. Usually, when you insert an SD card into an SD card reader that is internally or externally connected to a computer, the SD card shows up as a removable storage drive in My Computer from where both the SD card and its contents can be accessed.

However, in some cases, a Windows user may see that they insert an SD card into their computer’s card reader and wait for their computer to recognize the SD card as a removable storage drive, but nothing happens. In such cases, going into My Computer only reveals that the SD card is not showing up as a removable storage drive, which basically means that the computer has failed to recognize the SD card.

This problem can take place because of two completely different sets of causes – physical causes (causes that are related to malfunctioning or broken hardware) and virtual causes (causes related to the SD card reader’s settings or drivers). In most cases, this problem can be fixed, but the solution that you need to use depends heavily on whether the problem is caused by a hardware-related issue or a software-related issue.

Physical solutions

The following are some of the most effective solutions to use if this issue has a hardware-related cause in your case:

Solution 1: Clean both the SD card and the SD card reader

Dust on either the SD card or the SD card reader’s card slot can lead to bad contact between the SD card and the SD card reader, ultimately leading to the computer not being able to recognize the SD card. One of the best solutions you can use is to clean both the SD card and the SD card reader’s card slot, reinsert the SD card into the reader and check to see if that fixes the problem.

Solution 2: Check to see if either the SD card or the card reader is broken

If cleaning the SD card and the card reader does not work, one of the two items may be broken and no longer functional. To check to see if that’s the case, simply insert the SD card into another card reader connected to a different computer. If the SD card is recognized successfully, your SD card reader may be broken, and if that’s the case, your best option is to purchase a new, external SD card reader for your computer. However, if the other computer fails to recognize the SD card as well, your SD card may be broken, in which case you are going to have to replace it.

Alternatively, you can insert a different SD card into your computer’s card reader to perform the same test – if the other SD card is recognized, your SD card is broken, but if the other SD card is not recognized either, your SD card reader is broken.

Virtual solutions

The following are some of the most effective solutions that you should try using if this issue has a software-related cause in your case:

Solution 1: Disable and then enable your SD card reader

Press Windows Logo key + R to open a Run

Type devmgmt.msc into the Run dialog and press Enter.

In the Device Manager, double click on the SD host adapters category to expand it.

Right-click on the problematic SD card reader and click on Disable in the context menu.

sd-host-adapters

Click on Yes in the resulting popup to confirm the action.

Right-click on the problematic SD card reader and click on Enable in the context menu.

Check to see if your computer is now able to recognize and read the SD card.

Solution 2: Update your SD card reader’s drivers

Press Windows Logo key + R to open a Run

Type devmgmt.msc into the Run dialog and press Enter.

In the Device Manager, double click on the SD host adapters category to expand it.

Double click on the problematic SD card reader to access its Properties.

Navigate to the Driver

Click on Update Driver….

Click on Search automatically for updated driver software to allow Windows to scour the internet for updated drivers for the SD card reader.

If a newer version of the SD card reader’s drivers is available, it will be downloaded and installed, at which point you can check to see if the issue has been fixed.

Solution 3: Uninstall your SD card reader

  1. Press Windows Logo key + R to open a Run
  2. Type devmgmt.msc into the Run dialog and press Enter.
  3. In the Device Manager, double click on the SD host adapters category to expand it.
  4. Right-click on the problematic SD card reader and click on Uninstall in the context menu.
  5. Click on OK in the resulting popup to confirm the action.
  6. Wait for the SD card reader to be uninstalled.
  7. Restart your computer.

Once your computer boots up, the SD card reader will be automatically reinstalled, and once it has, check to see if the SD card is now successfully recognized by your computer.

Solution 4: Make sure that your computer’s SD card reader isn’t disabled in BIOS

Some computers do come with the option to disable the built-in SD card reader in the computer’s BIOS. If that’s the case, all you need to do is:

Boot your computer up.

At the first screen you see during startup, press the key that is going to grant you access to your computer’s BIOS settings (this key varies from one computer manufacturer to the other and is always described on the first screen you see during startup).

Go through the BIOS and make sure that the internal card reader hasn’t been disabled. If it has been disabled, simply enable it, save the changes, exit the BIOS and boot your computer up to verify whether or not the problem has been resolved.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Fix: Computer Fails to Recognize SD Card

If the issue is with your Computer or a Laptop you should try using Reimage Plus which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Reimage by clicking the Download button below.

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