Accidentally removing a card reader without first ejecting the Sandisk 256GB MicroSD in it has caused the SD card to become corrupt. When inserting it now, OSX prompts that it cannot read the card and offers an option of initialising it. This doesn't work, and Disk Utility gets stuck "waiting for the disk to re-appear" when I try to format it. In Disk Utility and in /dev list, the card shows up as 8MB rather than 256GB. I am hoping that I haven't damaged the controller and that the card might be fixable. Any thoughts?

  • Unlikely you've damaged the controller, and the card will probably be fine when you re-format it. You could try something like DataRescue, which you can evaluate for free to see if there's anything salvageable on there first.
    – calum_b
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 10:51
  • DataRescue is unable to recover anything.
    – Rune Abro
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 13:22
  • Having the same issue with the same size and brand of microSD card. About to boot from a live OS from a USB stick to see if I can debug this. Will try and follow-up if I'm successful.
    – vhs
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 19:11
  • Success. I've posted my solution below. Hope it helps others.
    – vhs
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 5:18

3 Answers 3


Just setting up a new volume is pretty easy with:

diskutil eraseDisk ExFAT SD256 disk44

(I chose disk44 above for the example but you will need to choose your disk number after making sure you're not erasing the boot volume or other critical disks - check your backups and disconnect any external drives you aren't prepared to restore from backup)

See Cannot unmount disk0 resource busy and When erasing media in Disk Utility, how can I change the default format? for a little extra visual or other options of diskutil that work on a volume instead of destroying all data on the disk.

  • 1
    Seemed unsuccessful.: "MacBook-Pro-3:~ eyeRune$ diskutil eraseDisk ExFAT SD256 disk3 Started erase on disk3 Unmounting disk Error: -69877: Couldn't open device"
    – Rune Abro
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 13:23
  • Bummer @RuneAbro - if you can't even wipe the entire card, the card reader is bad or the card is bad. Is it under warranty? Many SD cards have a very long warranty period.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 16:56
  • It was a discounted card from ebay, maybe it was a fake then :(
    – Rune Abro
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 17:28

I had the same issue using a SanDisk Ultra 256GB MicroSDXC UHS-I Card. Card became corrupted when a child removed it during a 100 GB data transfer process using macOS 10.14.3 (Mojave). Long story short the SD card was recoverable but not using Disk Utility, diskutil nor dd on Mac.

What worked for me was to boot from a USB card running Tails using the Opt key at boot on my Mac then use the graphical Disk Utils app installed to format the card without a partition table.

After the reboot Mojave presented a dialog stating it couldn't read the card and provided an Initialize... option which I was then able to use to successfully format (erase) and repartition.

I ended up using a GUID Partition table with an ExFAT file system for cross-platform portability. The lesson learned here for me was never let a kid near an SD card during a back-up process.

Edit: Turned this into a blog post with photos.


When all else fails... I try the other platform -- find a PC that supports the SD card and try formatting it there.

Good luck!

(Back in the day, I got my first 1GB USB stick from a friend who often brought it to me for reformatting on my eMac (1GHz G4!) after removing it from his PC without ejecting.)

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