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Fix ‘SD Card Empty but Says Full’ on Mac & Windows With 4 Solutions

kokou adzo

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Are you feeling puzzled by an ‘SD card says full but nothing on it Mac or Windows’ glitch? Don’t stress – check out the quick guide below. We’ve shared five effective ways to fix this error and discussed how to recover your lost data from the problematic memory card.

We’ve also shared some helpful tips to prevent data loss from your SD card in the future. So, stop scratching your head, asking, ‘Why does my SD card say full when it’s empty?’ and start reading!

Part 1: Why Does My SD Card Say Full When It’s Empty?

When you get the ‘SD card full but no files’ error on your SD card, there could be many reasons behind it, such as the following:

  • Hidden files occupying space.
  • Formatting issues after recent formatting.
  • Physical damage like liquid spills, drops, or pressure.
  • Fault in the SD card.
  • Corrupted systems files.

Part 2: Recover Your Data When SD Card Says Full but Nothing on It

If the ‘SD card says full but nothing on it’ error appears due to incorrect formatting or file system issues on the card, you need to reformat it. However, to avoid losing important data, consider using a data recovery tool.

Fortunately, software like 4DDiG Data Recovery can locate and retrieve hidden, formatted, permanently deleted, and corrupted files from Windows and Mac. Check out what more benefits you’ll gain by using it:

  • Compatible with internal/external storage like SD cards, USBs, hard disks, drones, digital cameras, etc.
  • Irrespective of the file format of your SD card, it can retrieve data successfully.
  • Retrieves 2000+ file types with a high recovery rate.
  • Suitable for recovering files from various data loss scenarios, including virus-infected and crashed systems.
  • Supports both Mac and Windows OS.

Here’s how to use this tool to recover hidden or lost data from your SD card:

Step 1: Firstly, download and install the recovery tool on your Windows PC or Mac and launch it.

Step 2: Connect your SD card with the ‘SD card says full but nothing on it Mac or Windows’ error and choose it for scanning.

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Step 3: The tool will look for lost or hidden files in your memory card, and you can pause anytime when you find what you need. You can preview your target files in categories like Existing Files, Lost Location, etc, in the “Tree View.” Or switch to “File View” to check for file types like Photo, Video, Document, Audio, etc. You can also utilize the search or Filter for a refined search.

search

Step 4: Once you recover your SD card data, preview and move it to a safe location. Avoid saving to the same card to prevent permanent data loss.

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Part 3: How to Fix SD Card Full but No Files on Windows&Mac?

After you’ve recovered your data, check out the five solutions below to fix the ‘SD card full but no files’ error depending on the OS you use:

3.1. Show Hidden Files

The most common reason the ‘SD card says full but nothing on it Mac or Windows’ error occurs is because of hidden or invisible files. Thus, you can use the following steps to reveal them:

For Windows

Step 1: Type “cmd” in the search bar, choose “Command Prompt,” and run it as Admin.

admin

Step 2: Locate your SD card with the ‘SD card full but no files’ error.

Step 3: Type “attrib -h -r -s /s /d E:*.*” (replace E with the drive letter of your SD card) and press “Enter.”

nter

This command will not only remove the hidden and read-only attributes from the files and folders but also at the directories and subdirectories level.

For Mac

Step 1: Connect your SD card with the error to your Mac, open Spotlight, and find and launch “Terminal.”

Step 2: Type in “defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE” and  press “Return.” This command tells the “Finder” to show hidden files.

Step 3: Then, type in “$ killall Finder” and press “Return.” This command restarts “Finder” with the changes.

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3.2. Check Disk Errors

Your new SD card says full but could appear empty due to file system errors. In such a case, you can run the CHKDSK utility in Windows and First Aid on Mac to resolve the issue. Here’s how:

For Windows

Step 1: Type “cmd” in the search bar, choose “Command Prompt,” and run it as Admin.

Step 2: Type in “chkdsk C: /f /r /x,” replacing “C” with the drive letter of your SD card. Press “Enter.”

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This command will repair logical errors and bad sectors on the SD card and recover readable data.

For Mac

Step 1: Open “Launchpad” from the “Dock,” search for “Disk Utility,” and launch it

Step 2: Choose a volume of your SD card with the ‘SD card says full but nothing on it” from the sidebar, and click “First Aid.”

aid

Step 3: Run and follow onscreen instructions, then click “Done.” Repeat this for all volumes on the SD card.

3.3. Format SD Card

An incorrect file system, often caused by improper formatting, can also lead to the ‘new SD card says full but appears empty’ problem. To resolve this, you’ll need to reformat the SD card correctly. Here’s how:

For Windows

Step 1: Plug your SD card into your Windows PC and locate it in the “File Explorer.”

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Step 2: Right-click on it, choose “Format,” and opt for “NTFS” or “FAT32” as the file system. Click “Start” to begin the formatting process.

proces

For Mac

Step 1: Insert the SD card into your Mac, head to “Applications,” and choose “Disk Utility” from “Utilities.”

Step 2: Find and pick the SD card with the ‘SD card full but no files’ error and click “Erase” at the top.

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Step 3: Choose a format (FAT, ExFAT, NTFS, or HFS+, depending on what you’re using the card for, e.g., choose FAT or ExFAT for the camera).

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Step 4: Name the SD card, then click “Erase” to start the formatting process.

3.4. Directly Access the Default Path

A simple way that might help with the ‘new SD card says full but appears empty’ problem is to access the DCIM folder directly. Your digital camera usually saves photos and videos in this default folder, and you can access it directly to find the files you need. Here are the steps to reveal hidden files in Windows and Mac:

For Windows

Step 1: Connect the SD card with the ‘SD card full but nothing on it’ error to your Windows PC, and open “Windows Explorer.”

Step 2: Type the file path of your SD card’s DCIM folder, e.g., “D:\DCIM.” Here, replace D with the drive letter of your SD card.

Step 3: Open the DCIM folder and access the hidden files.

For Mac

Step 1: Stick your SD card into your Mac and launch “Finder” from the “Dock.”

Step 2: Choose “Go” from the top, then press “Go to Folder” and enter the file path of your SD card’s DCIM folder, e.g., “/DCIM/.”

Step 3: Open the DCIM folder and access the hidden files.

3.5 Send for Professional Repair

Still pondering ‘Why does my SD card say full when it’s empty?’ When none of the previous solutions work to fix your memory card, it might be damaged or corrupted beyond repair. Therefore, consider sending it for manual repair or getting a replacement. If it’s still under warranty, you can get free service.

Part 4: How to Prevent SD Card Data Loss?

If you are able to recover your memory card from the ‘SD card full but nothing on it’ error, it’s well and good. But you must take some preventative measures with your memory card to avoid data loss from this issue in the future. Consider following these tips:

  • Regular Backup – Backup your memory card data regularly.
  • Choose High-Quality Cards – Opt for reputable brands when buying SD cards, as generic ones may have unreliable flash memory chips that can fail unexpectedly.
  • Prevent from Damage – Shield the SD card from physical harm by avoiding moisture, extreme heat, and cold and store it in a protective case when not in use.
  • Eject Properly – Always eject your SD card properly to prevent data corruption. That extra moment of clicking the Eject button is worth it.

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve answered your query, ‘Why does my SD card say full when it’s empty,’ it will be easier for you to resolve the issue. We’ve shared four ways for Windows and Mac users to get rid of this SD card malfunction for good.

However, it’s wise to recover the data from the card before you fix the ‘SD card says full but nothing on it Mac or Windows’ issue. Consider using the 4DDiG Data Recovery software to retrieve the data from the problematic memory card. It can recover 2000+ formatted, lost, hidden, corrupted, or deleted file types with a high recovery rate.

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Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at Startup.info.

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