What to Do When Chromebook is Not Reading SD Card

Chromebooks are powerful and convenient devices that give you a lot of control. As they are Google machines, they easily work with the many great apps and features the platform provides.

That’s why so many people use them in both their personal and professional life. However, as with nearly all forms of technology, sometimes problems can arise.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at what to do when your Chromebook is not reading an SD card. That will then help you get around an annoying and problematic situation.

Fix #1 – Hardware Reset

The first method to use when trying to get your Chromebook to read an SD card is to perform a hardware reset on the system. That’s different than a regular reset because it fully resets more parameters on your Chromebook than simply shutting it off and starting it back up again.

The steps below can often help a Chromebook read an SD card if you were experiencing issues.

  1. Completely shut down your Chromebook. Note: it’s crucial that you actually turn the Chromebook off and not just close the lid. The device needs to be powered down in order to perform the hardware reset.
  2. Make sure to remove the SD card from your Chromebook.
  3. Hold down the Power button and Refresh key at the same time for at least 10 seconds.
  4. Release the Refresh key.
  5. Release the Power button.
  6. Your Chromebook should now go through the regular restart process.
  7. Insert your SD card and see if it’s now able to be read.

Fix #2 – Make Sure Software is Updated

Another reason why an SD card may not be read on a Chromebook is due to software issues that can result from not having the latest updates installed on your device. A quick check for updates can fix this issue.

Your Chromebook will usually check for updates automatically when you’re logged in and have an internet connection. However, if it doesn’t update for one reason or another, follow the below steps.

  1. Turn your Chromebook on.
  2. Make sure the Chromebook is logged into a stable internet connection.
  3. Click on the time icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  4. Click on Settings.
  5. From the Settings window, select About Chrome OS from the bottom left-hand side of the window.
  6. You will see “Google Chrome OS” pop up. It will tell you what version of the operating system you’re currently running.
  7. Click on Check for Updates.
  8. If there are any updates available, your Chromebook will find them and begin to download the newer version automatically.

More likely than not, you’ll also see a notification when a new update is available. You can click on that notification and then select “Restart to Update” to perform the update in an alternate way.

Remove your SD card while performing the update and then reinsert it once the update is complete to see if the files on the card can now be read.

Fix #3 – Reformat SD Card

If the first two fixes above don’t help you get your Chromebook to read your SD card, you may need to reformat the card to get it to work. This process will wipe the information off of the card, so you should always try to have a backup of any important files on the device before attempting a reformat.

Follow these steps to reformat an SD card on your Chromebook:

  1. Turn your Chromebook on.
  2. Plug your SD card into the USB port (or whatever port you connect it to).
  3. Open the Files app.
  4. Locate the SD card that you want to reformat. Be sure that you’ve selected the correct drive before continuing.
  5. Two-finger tap or right-click on the SD drive.
  6. From the option menu, click on Format Device.
  7. You will see a window pop up asking you if you wish to continue with formatting the SD card and erase its data.
  8. Click OK.
  9. The process may take a few minutes, but you will have a reformatted SD card once everything is complete.
  10. You can now add files to the SD card and check to see if it can now be read.

Note that this reformatting process will automatically format your SD card to a FAT32 file system. That is a common format that’s widely used and works well across various devices, but it may not be the exact preference you have.

Even so, it’s the only option you have when reformatting directly on your Chromebook.

Last Resort Fix – Get a New SD

Unfortunately, it’s possible that your SD card is bad and you’ll need a new one in order to properly read the files. That’s the last resort option, but if none of the above methods help you fix the issue, you may have to bite the bullet and get a new card.

Before you do that, you may want to recover your SD card data if they are important.

I usually recommend having a few SD cards on hand so you don’t have to worry about going out and getting a different one. Luckily, SD cards are fairly cheap.

I would also suggest always making a backup of your SD cards so you don’t lose files and data in case your card cannot be fixed. That will allow you to easily access the files in a different way without completely losing internal information.

You can also attempt to plug in the SD card on another device as another double-check method before conducting the steps above.

Final Thoughts

If your Chromebook is not reading an SD card, there’s no need to freak out. Follow the fixes outlined in this article and you’ll be able to get everything back to normal in no time.

Each method is easy, but if none of them work there’s a chance your SD card is corrupted and can’t be saved. Always remember to make a backup of your files just in case!

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