Kim Barloso

Card reader for memory cards: What to do if it does not work


Content of the article :

  • What is a Cardreader?
  • Pictures of Cardreaders: Internal and External
  • How to choose the right card reader
  • How to connect to a PC/laptop
  • What to do if the card reader does not work

Video overview

What is a Card Reader?

A card reader is a compact device for rapidly reading memory cards, thumbdrives and other types of memory (you may also encounter variants of writing "card reader" and "card reader").

It is a useful device for owners of phones, tablets, iPhones and other mobile devices. The three main functions of a card reader are:

  • When connected to a PC, you may quickly transfer /files to an sd-card or compact flash
  • If data have been deleted from the phone memory card, you cannot do without a card reader
  • Backup important /files to your computer

What a card reader looks like

The most common is the built-in (or embedded) card reader. It is integrated into the notebook: the slot is on the front of the notebook (Windows PC) or on the side (Macbook).

External card reader is a small box with several slots to insert cards.

Card reader types

There are several types of card readers, and Wikipedia defines them. We would not go into the terminology, and would divide all card readers into external, internal (embedded).

Are there any card readers specifically for phones?

Yes, there are also card readers for phones, like the OTG Mobile Phone Connection's flash card adapter. We will not touch such specific devices: they are rare and not very usable.

Internal card reader

The card reader in a laptop is the best option if you are actively copying /files to and from the sd card. You do not need a usb port to read memory cards and flash drives.

Most Windows laptops have a built-in card reader, older Macbook models also have one.

Find out if your notebook has a card reader by checking your laptop's sockets yourself or through the documentation.

External usb card reader

An external card reader is a module you connect to your computer via usb. This would be the best solution if:

  • the manufacturer of the computer does not provide a card reader
  • you have a normal desktop PC
  • can not use the integrated card reader in the notebook.

External card readers operate like USB sticks: you insert the card and the usb protocol transfers the information to the computer.

Wi-fi card readers

There are also wifi card readers. They are wireless, i.e. no wired connection is needed to connect and read the cards. These devices are mobile and easy to use.

How to choose a memory card reader

Before you buy a card reader, you should know the type of memory card you use and/or intend to connect to your PC or notebook.

This is easy:

  • disconnect the memory card from your phone, camera, etc..,
  • read the card type and format on the label
  • According to this choose your sd-memory card reader.

    There are many simple and complicated card readers available on the market, each one supporting only certain types of memory. Among them:

    • Compact Flash
    • Secure Digital
    • MMC
    • SDHC
    • Memory Stick

    You can get a universal card reader with several ports such as the one supporting compact flash.

    Tip . If you need a card reader to recover your sd card /files, then it is a good idea to get the right photo recovery software. Actually read here how to recover photos on your phone.

    How to use a cardreader

    If you have a built-in cardreader:

    1. Insert the card into the socket, the card will be indicated as a separate drive
    2. Insert the sd card into the cardreader

    If you use an external one:

    1. Please connect the usb cable containing the cardreader to the socket of the computer.
    2. Insert the card into the card reader

    What to do if the card reader is not working

    Let's look at some problems that some visitors of my site are complaining about.

    Trouble: Card reader does not see the memory card (sd card)

    1. Check the contact between the memory card and the card reader
    2. If the card reader is external, check the connection between the PC, the usb cable and the card reader.

    Trouble: Card reader does not work

    1. If the card reader has a lamp, check if it is on. If not, check once again if the cardreader is connected to a PC or notebook.

    Trouble: the PC does not see the cardreader

    1. Open the Device Manager and check if the cardreader is in the Device List. Instead of the Device Manager you can, and should better, use a specialized software such as AIDA64 (formerly Everest).
    2. If you cannot see the device in the Device List, please install the Card Reader Driver, which is available from the Laptop or the Card Reader manufacturer's website.
    3. Check the integrity of the usb cable. Test it with other devices, e.g. your telephone.

    If the computer does not see the card reader anyway, test the card on other readers. You may need to buy a different card reader.

    “Hello. My name is Kim. I discovered that technology, when used with a purpose, can be pretty amazing. To share the wonder of tech, I’ve written for blogs like and With over three years of freelance writing experience in the technology and entertainment niche, I can write a storm about a software app, a cool browser extension, a new mobile device and other geek-centric stuf... “

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    Kim Barloso