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October 31, 2011 4:14 AM   Subscribe

When trying to read a Sandisk 16Gb Class 2 Micro SD card (on my Win7 PC through a USB reader) it will show up briefly but as soon as I try to copy any files the drive itself will disappear, meaning I can't save any of the data (or pics) from it, so I'm looking for a way to keep the drive visible to my PC so I can save the data. (The card comes from my Android HTC Desire HD which randomly dismounted itself this morning and now reports itself as 'damaged' in the phone). Any help would be greatly appreciated - thanks in advance!
posted by timpollard to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have an external card reader? Sometimes even if the card is corrupted, you can plug in an external card reader and it will read you SD card. You might try that. I am not as computer savvy as some others here, you may get some better advice later, but try that if you can.
posted by Yellow at 4:21 AM on October 31, 2011

Response by poster: Apologies, I should have made it clearer - yes, I'm trying to read the card using an external USB reader on my PC (in fact I've tried it on two separate PCs) and in each case the Autoplay options will appear, allow me to 'Open folder to look at files' but will then just disappear both from the screen and the list of available drives. I can't even attempt to read it from the 'phone.
posted by timpollard at 4:27 AM on October 31, 2011

Is it an Old Card Reader? My old laptop can't read my 4Gb SD Card but the newer Netbook can. Both win XP. I think its a hardware issue with the old card reader built into my laptop. So it could be something similar?
posted by mary8nne at 4:27 AM on October 31, 2011

Oh sorry I mean that some card readers seem to fail on cards of larger sizes. 16GB is very big (so I assume quite new) I would try reading it with a new can reader.

My laptop is fine with smaller older cards - its just this most recent 4Gb it freaks out on.
posted by mary8nne at 4:30 AM on October 31, 2011

Response by poster: Nope sadly, it's a new reader that has read that very card before quite happily...
posted by timpollard at 4:34 AM on October 31, 2011

Response by poster: And I've just tried a different (and even newer) reader too and the same thing happens - autoplay appears then disappears.
posted by timpollard at 4:37 AM on October 31, 2011

There are a couple of possibilities, I think. It could be a hardware failure in the card itself. In this case you're unlikely to get your data back without a lot of equipment and expertise (i.e. forget it).

Or it could just be corruption in the data, specifically the part of the data that tells the computer (or phone) that this card contains a valid partition containing files in some format or other. There's lots of different data recovery software around that might help in this case. Some will require a valid drive letter, which isn't very useful in this case. Other software will look at connected storage devices, even ones with no valid partitions. It's this second type of software that might help. You could maybe try your luck one or two of the free portable apps on this page.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:50 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

A quick solution might be to boot up with a linux live CD and see if the card will mount and be readable on there.
posted by gjc at 5:09 AM on October 31, 2011

This seems to be something commonly encountered too. One forum suggested checking for bad sectors (chkdsk /f /r). Although I would be cautious with chksdk if there's a hardware problem as it could in some cases make the corruption worse.

From what I'm reading, this is also something more common with class 2 SD cards. Some have switched to class 6 and the problems stopped. But I wouldn't say that's a guaranteed fix.

Another possibility is Apps2SD. There's plenty of discussion in this forum ranging from SD speeds to faulty main boards. Another thread suggests ThunderROM as well as copying out everything and reformatting FAT32 (which unfortunately will not work in your case as you cannot open it to copy). I think gjc has a really good approach to that however, if you can burn and boot off a linux live CD you might have better luck salvaging the contents. You can grab a copy of Knoppix, which is one of the easier distros to use, here.
posted by samsara at 6:28 AM on October 31, 2011

$1000 question: Do you think the data that might be on that card is worth $1000 to you?

If so, do *nothing* and call either DriveSavers or Ontrack Data Recovery. Anything you do could save the data, or make the data unrecoverable.

So, if there is something critical, call them first (free) and get a quote. I've used both in the past, in dramatic situations, and they've gotten the data back. The worst I've thrown at them was a HDD that the heads had landed and dug a groove into the disk surface, they got 90% of the file back, including all the critical data for the client.

If the data isn't important, sure, throw utilities at it. And, of course, if it works, back them up and replace the media.
posted by eriko at 6:38 AM on October 31, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all so much, sadly I think I'm stuffed (well, the card is anyhow) - I tried the Linux approach (cool OS, looks like I may have to play with that more, thank you gjc and samsara).

It still bummed out on that though and nothing else has worked either (it won't be read in other phones, WinMo or Android and nor in Macs or tablets). Luckily it's just some photos I'll really be missing so I'll use this as a lesson to back up more often and live life a lot more to make new memories!

Thank you all guys, I deeply appreciate your time and trouble!
posted by timpollard at 9:41 AM on October 31, 2011

If the pictures are the important thing, try PhotoRec.
posted by mhoye at 10:31 AM on October 31, 2011

It's more of what you already tried, but PartedMagic is my go-to for data recovery. I've used it on drives that won't register at all in windows.

It's a live CD with lots of tools (I run it from a flash drive myself), including testdisk and photorec, but honestly it just mounts just about anything even when the data is corrupted. Worth a shot.
posted by TomMelee at 11:29 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe the card reader is right at the limit of what your USB port can power ?

In that case the OS wouldn't matter, you would need to try a different laptop or better yet a self-powered USB hub.
posted by rfs at 8:42 PM on November 2, 2011

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