Can Magnets Ruin An SD Card? 6 Common Reasons Why You Can’t Use Your SD Card

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sd card magnetsGuess what – magnets can’t ruin your SD cards. Let’s just get that one out in the open. Flash memory just doesn’t work that way! I mean, magnets could work, but it would have to be really, really powerful. Nothing that you have in your household would ruin one, for the record. So yeah, let’s just dispel that myth.

However, there are a variety of reasons that you can’t your SD card, and it seems as though nearly everyone faces the same issues. Below are six simple SD obstacles that most tech users face, and for a few of them, there are actual solutions. Use this article as a troubleshooting tool so you can handle your SD card woes.

It’s In The Wrong Format

sd card magnets

Let’s say that you supposedly have a blank SD card, and you’re ready to roll. However, for some reason it just isn’t working. Well, think about the last time that you used the particular card in question. Have you used it in multiple devices? Different phones? Different cameras? That may be your problem.

There’s a chance that your SD card is actually formatted for a different device. The reason it isn’t working is the very same reason that hard drives formatted for different operating systems can’t be read by your computer. In this case, make sure you have removed any important files from the card onto your PC, and then reformat the card using your new device.

You Unsafely Ejected It

magnets and sd cards

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Bad news kid – there’s a reason that you should safely remove your SD cards. Imagine throwing a wrench into the spinning gears of a fast-moving machine. One, it’s going to stop. Two, it’s probably not going to work anymore.The same principle applies to SD cards (minus the spinning gears). If you take it out of your PC while it’s still being read, you could possibly cause problems!

Most of the time, the files won’t be corrupted. However, if you do happen to screw things up, the card itself should still be usable. Chances are that you will actually have to reformat it, though (bummer). From now on, make sure you safely remove it just as a security precaution.

The Casing Is Damaged

magnets and sd cards

Sometimes it’s all about physical damage. Believe it or not, SD cards can’t handle nuclear explosions, forest fires, or tsunamis. Furthermore, they can’t handle little problems like being lost in the washing machine or crushed by a heavy object. There are recovery services for these cards, but they are very, very expensive. Sometimes they can be thousands of dollars.

Do yourself a favor by keeping loose SD cards in their proper cases, and force yourself to be organized by putting them in a safe place each and every time you are done using them. (Extra tip: another common reason people can’t use their SD cards is because they can’t find them – take it from someone who has experience.)

The Card Is Locked

magnets and sd cards

We’ve covered this on MakeUseOf before, but SD cards actually have the ability to be locked so none of the files are changed or erased – pretty nifty. While it’s a safety precaution, it’s also a nuisance for some users. However, it’s very easy to lock and unlock your card.

If you look on the side of the card, you’ll notice that there’s a little switch (it’s usually a different color from the rest of the device). Just flip it away from the locked position, and you’re golden. Yep, it really is that easy.

Your Card Reader Is Too Slow

magnet destroy sd card

I’ve faced this situation before! It was really annoying. If you have an older or cheapie card reader (whether it be external or on your PC), then it very well may not keep up with the speeds of today’s SD cards. Sometimes, if you have connected your camera to your PC with a USB cord, the transfer rate isn’t quite fast enough either.

An easy fix is to simply find a newer, faster SD card that can properly read your cards. They aren’t too expensive, and in the long run, it will definitely be worth it.

The Write Speed Isn’t Fast Enough

sd card magnets

In a similar fashion to your card reader, there’s the possibility that your SD card is too old or too slow for the device you are using it on. Use your manual to find out the write speeds of your device, and this should be an easy fix.

The only real solution to this is to purchase a new card. However, I doubt you have any attachments to your SD cards. I mean, maybe you do. In that case, tough luck.


SD cards are pretty darn handy, and you can read more about them in my article: How To Choose The Right SD Card For The Job.

What other reasons prevent you from using an SD card? Do you have any extra tips for other readers?

Image Credits: Collin Allen, Boegh, All Hands Volunteers Photobank, m thierry, Robert S. Donovan, Clive Dara

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Comments (36)
  • Lisa O

    If you use your SD cards as alternative of USB sticks like me, consider collecting all programs and files you put in the SD card in one folder, so next time you have to format the card, you can simply copy everything instead of wasting time installing everything again (in my case, portable apps and a variety of recovery/rescue discs).

  • pmshah

    Ever since SDHC cards have been introduced the situation has reversed for me. The side tab does nothing and I can right to the card regardless of the tab position. I have come to realise that the cameras that use SDHC cards have “write protection tab” position sensors but none of the standalone readers have this. I have a 10 year old Datafab card reader which supports cards only up to 4 GB has this protection function. I have unsuccessfully searched for over 2 years and have also had communication with SanDisk about this without success.

    I used to use such “write protected” cards with “portableapps” virus cleaning solutions. I have 4 cards which I can use with my old reader and protect them for dear life. There is no alternate solution even on the horizon.

  • Brandon Ragoo

    Interesting….. I often used the wonder the difference between all these SD cards.

  • Dave Muckey

    Conversely, you might have an older device that cannot read anything beyond a Class 1 or 2 card.

    Or maybe I should just pop for a new camera.

  • hildyj

    Another reason is the letters after “SD” (like “HC”). For example, a reader that can handle SDHC can handle SD but one that’s built for SD cannot use SDHC. The letters after “SD” indicate cards that support more bites (HC stands for High Capacity) or faster speeds. Make sure you buy a card that works with your equipment. Also, SD cards come in standard, mini, and micro sizes. Make sure you get the right size.

    For PCs, both issues can be cured with a external card reader that supports enhanced cards and multiple sizes. But keep in mind that cards still fail (more often, in my experience, than hard drives). Buy cards from a reputable manufacturer. If you are going to use them for backups (which I do) or long term storage, buy twice as many cards and store things redundantly.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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